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Mortgage pre-approval – what is it and when should you get it?

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Mortgage pre-approval – what is it and when should you get it?

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Buying a house is an interesting time in one’s lifetime, and why shouldn’t it be? You’re making what’s likely to be the greatest purchase in your whole life, and it’s somewhere you could be living for the following decades.

However, getting approved for a loan and finding a homes you can afford is tricky at the best of times, and without proper guidance from a home loan lender, you could be going totally unaware, risking to find your dream house only to find that the lender won’t approve you.

The lending company may consider you won’t be able to afford the property or judge the property itself as too big of a risk to take on. You could avoid this situation by ensuring your mortgage pre-approval prior to begining your home search.

What is mortgage pre-approval?

Mortgage pre-approval is basically an initial assessment from the lending company where they agree, in principle, only to lend you a certain amount to buy your property.

In essence, a mortgage pre-approval serves two purposes:

  • It indicates just how much the company will lend you, and what type of house you can afford to buy
  • It establishes your financial position with yourself and the lender

Contrary to many misinformed first-time homebuyers, a pre-approval is not a binding guarantee of investment – things that may still change during the homebuying process can affect your ability to secure a loan. However, it is typically a smart move to get pre-approved before settling on a property to buy, because it can give you a much better answer to the question: “Can I afford to purchase my dream home?”

When to get pre-approval

Home pre-approval letters are usually valid for 60 to 90 days. Lending companies put an expiration date on these letters as your credit profile and finance could change. When a home loan pre-approval expires, that means you will need to fill out a new mortgage application and send updated paperwork to receive another one.

If you’ve found an ideal property and suspect you might have some issue getting a loan, going through the pre-approval process can help you identify credit issues – and potentially give you time to tackle them.

The sooner, the better – when you seek pre-approval six months to one year in advance of a serious home search place you in a stronger position to improve your overall credit score. In doing so, you will have more time to save for closing costs and down payment.

When you’re prepared to make offers, sellers often ask about a mortgage pre-approval and, in some circumstances, proof of funds to show that you’re a genuine buyer. In major housing markets, home sellers have an advantage as there is a strong buyer demand and a restricted number of houses for a sale – they may be less likely to accept the bid without pre-approval letters.

The pre-approval process

Applying for a home loan can be both nerve-wracking and exciting, no doubt. Some online lending companies can pre-approve you within hours, while some can even take days. A pre-approval interval depends on the complexity of your finances and on the lender.

New-home buyers will need to fill out a mortgage application. That includes identifying information, as well as social insurance number so that the lending company can pull your credit. Even though a mortgage credit check counts up as a hard probe on your credit reports – which may impact your credit score – if you’re shopping for several lenders in a short amount of time, the combined credit check counts as a single inquiry.

Here’s an example of a uniform mortgage application. If you’re applying with a co-borrower or with your spouse whose income you need to qualify for the mortgage, both candidates will require to list employment and financial information.

  1. Terms of the loan and type of mortgage
  2. Purpose of the loan and property information
  3. Borrower information
  4. Employment information
  5. Monthly income and combined housing expense information
  6. Liabilities and assets
  7. Details of the transaction
  8. Declarations

Can I get multiple pre-approvals?

Doing multiple pre-approval in a short amount of time can leave a mark on your credit history, since the lending company will usually run a credit check, at least with a full pre-approval assessment. In doing so, you will leave an inquiry on your credit history.

What are the chances of getting dismissed after a pre-approval?

If your financial or personal status changes between pre-approval and your final application, your pre-appproval will most likely have to be reassessed – which can mean anything from:

  • You receiving a lower income
  • You or your spouse losing their job
  • Having to spend your deposit on an emergency
  • A change in the property’s condition
  • A change in government policies and more

Not to mention that changing interest rates, such as the ones we experienced in 2019, can also influence how much you can borrow. The lender will typically evaluate your repayment ability over the life of the theoretical loan based on their own usability defence – increasing interest rate might mean a once-approved request is denied, due to you being a risk of not meeting higher payments.

What happens next?

The lending company is required by law to provide a document called loan estimate within three business days of getting your completed mortgage application. The document notes whether the mortgage has been pre-approved and summarizes the loan amount, types and terms of the mortgage, estimated interest, interest rate and payments, estimated closing costs (even lender fees), an estimate of house taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

If you happened to be pre-approved for a loan, your file would eventually transfer to a loan underwriter who will check your documentation against your loan application. The underwriter also has to ensure you respect the borrower guidelines for the specific loan program for which you’re applying.

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What to Expect from a House Inspection in Canada

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What to Expect from a House Inspection in Canada

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A house inspection is a vital step to consider when shopping for a home, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. While it can be exciting to find a dream house, knowing what’s behind the walls can be quite tricky. That’s where a home inspection comes in.

A professional house inspector will examine the condition of the house you are about to buy to ensure it’s in great condition. They can identify flaws that buyers can’t, making them an ideal choice for potential homeowners. So, what do home inspectors look for?

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House Inspection Checklist for Homeowners in Canada

What does a house inspector do? When hired, a house inspector will examine both your home’s interior and exterior to see if they can find something wrong. They can also find things that could potentially pose significant risks in the future.

After examining the entire house, the home inspector will give you a detailed report covering all the findings. Some home inspectors will even give pictures and the potential timelines for certain projects, including systems or components not performing properly.

New build homes tend to have few or no flaws, simplifying the inspection process. So, buying such homes can help you save a lot on the house inspection cost. Thanks to home builders like Paradise Developments for building flawless structures in Aurora.

As inspectors examine a home you intend to buy, make sure you accompany them. It will also give the home inspector the chance to show you how various house items operate. You’ll also get to know the location of all the shut-off valves in the house.

The house inspection checklist below will ensure that the house is in good shape. Here are the things to check during a home inspection.

  • Attic: Ensure that there’s sufficient insulation, proper ventilation, and no signs of water damage
  • Basement: No signs of water damage, sufficient insulation, and solid foundation, floors, and walls
  • Bathrooms: Ensure adequate water flow and pressure in the fixtures and a functioning toilet, bathtub, sink, and shower.
  • Ceilings: Check if the ceiling is straight and level and ensure there are no cracks or stains
  • Electrical Systems: Ensure that there are working light fixtures, exhaust fans, smoke detectors, and circuit breakers
  • Exterior Surfaces: Ensure there are no damages on the sides, no peeling paint, and no loose or damaged stucco
  • Garage: Functional garage opener, no ceiling damages, up-to-code electrical systems, and a solid foundation
  • HVAC System: Ensure there are no air-conditioning and furnace malfunctions. Also, check if the water heaters are working efficiently.
  • Kitchen Appliances: Check if all the kitchen appliances are functional, including the dishwasher, stove, fridge, and microwave
  • Plumbing Systems: Ensure there are no damaged or leaking pipes and confirm if the sinks, faucets, toilets, bathtubs, and showers are functional
  • Roof: The roofs’ shingles shouldn’t be loose or damaged. Also, ensure that the gutters are functional and chimneys in good condition.
  • Windows: Ensure that the windows are well-aligned and the drip caps properly installed

A house inspection should occur after making an offer, but before you are fully and financially committed to buying the house. Make an offer to buy the home on the condition of an inspection. You must also ensure that all your bases are covered.

What Does a Home Inspector Look for?

A house inspection aims to give information on your home’s components and systems at the time of inspection. The visual inspection aims at finding anything that’s unsafe, or needs replacement, or requires repairs.

One of the things that most inspectors will check for during inspection is the state of the roof. They will inspect the roof coverings, accessible drainage, flashing, and skylights. However, they might not get to the rooftop but check the conditions from the ground.

The inspectors will also inspect a house’s foundation and framing for any deterioration. However, they can’t report anything happening behind a finished basement’s drywall. If any investigation might cause damages, the inspector will not inspect the section.

Generally, here are the other major things that a qualified house inspector can look at:

  • If the house plumbing and electrical connections require upgrades
  • How good the home’s ventilation and insulation are
  • If there are cracks or other damages on the roof and foundation
  • Structure’s overall integrity

What Happens Next after a House Inspection?

After inspecting the house, a home inspector will provide a detailed report highlighting all the defects that require repairs. Read the report carefully and inquire about anything you do not understand. Issues like unstable roofs and foundations can be very costly.

To avoid costly repairs, you can include a clause in the agreement that you will buy the house upon a successful inspection. If the home fails during the inspection, you can adjust the agreement to cover all the necessary repairs then purchase the house.

How to Choose a House Inspector

When hiring a house inspector, you want someone well-trained, knowledgeable, and experienced in doing home inspections. Look for inspectors who have completed inspection courses on building sciences, home construction, and defect-recognition.

You can hire a house inspector certified by the Canadian Association of Housing and Property Inspectors (CAHPI). They understand the various systems and components of a home. Besides, most of them have a background in construction engineering.

A professional house inspector should also understand all the standards of practice and codes and ethics. Here are the other things to consider when hiring a house inspector.

  • Certifications, qualifications, and training
  • Number of years inspecting houses in Canada
  • Related work experience in the industry
  • References and referrals from friends and family members
  • Knowledge of all the building codes

Final Words

Performing a house inspection will help you understand the kind of house you intend to buy. Consider hiring a house inspector who is qualified and has multiple positive reviews. Such an inspector must have inspected several homes in Canada for many years. Most importantly, their home inspection prices need to be affordable.

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4 Best Architecture Software Programs for 2020

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4 Best Architecture Software Programs for 2020

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Various professional construction workers and contractors desire more than just 2D and 3D modeling with their architecture software. Nowadays, architecture software has become a necessity in the modern, digital age that we live in today. The programs that we have access to these days enable us to easily draw, save, and print plans for our designs.

Some of the best architecture software and platforms integrate Building Information Modeling (BIM) to enable engineers and architects to collaborate on labor, design, planning, materials, and other technical aspects of a project. According to a recent report, BIM has prompted over 70% of the US architects to believe that it reduces several project error risks, while 56% of them suggest that their clients are far more satisfied upon integrating collaboration solutions in their BIM projects.

Fortunately, we have taken the liberty of reviewing several of the best architecture computer programs and platforms based on several coveted features such as user-friendliness, particular functionality, compatibility with other architecture software programs, and being able to help large teams collaborate on and share their projects.

Best Architecture Software

1. AutoCAD

AutoCAD has a long history behind it. It was developed as far back as 1982 and brought about computer-aided design (CAD) from mainframe computers to that of personal ones. Four years later, AutoCAD became the most renowned CAD program around the world. If there’s any other software that rivals the multifaceted features and capabilities of Bridgit Bench, it is definitely AutoCAD.

Architects mainly use AutoCAD as a 2D drawing tool for making floor plans, sections, and elevations. The program allows users to speed up their drawing process by using pre-configured objects within the platform, including doors, windows, and walls that behave like their real-life counterparts. The program also provides particular mechanical, electric, and architectural, among other toolsets to support any manner of design and drawing.

AutoCAD also allows us to change 2D drawings into 3D objects with a vast range of surfaces, mesh objects, lighting, and solids for more realistic and detailed renderings. The program can be integrated with its parent company Autodesk allowing us to access more powerful 3D tools for our convenience.

2. SketchUp

You have a knack for painting and sketching, then SketchUp can help you realize your dreams. Architects can unleash their true inner creativity by sketch drawing, allowing any of their concepts to take physical form. With this software, we can quickly develop 3D drawings faster than we ever could before. It will also help us modify any of our past models with ease.

For those starting up an architecture, SketchUp is the one software you can count on to give you your training wheels. Its image rendering capabilities will certainly surprise you. Although making a 3D model on this software isn’t easy, it is possible if you follow the right steps.

With the latest updates, you’ll be able to use a wide set of new tools like virtual reality, which allows you to walk around your desired project. What’s more, is that SketchUp comes with the biggest 3D model library, where you can add a plethora of objects like trees, chairs, or anything else to your 3D model.

3. Revit

Created in 1997, Revit was built to support BIM workflows and assist designers, engineers, and architects in planning and keeping track of every planning and building stage from conceptualization to construction. Later in 2002, Autodesk acquired Revit, allowing it to be compatible with some of the other best software for architecture like AutoCAD.

It can tackle a variety of disciplines other than architecture, like interior design, engineering, contracting, and landscape architecture. You can quickly and efficiently make 3D designs for any project you have in mind for your model-based building designs and documentation. You can even use it to automatically update floor plans, sections, 3D views, and elevations. Besides that, you can use 3D visualizations to get a view of the building before it’s constructed.

It also features impeccable collaboration where team members can share and also save their work instead of switching between emails seamlessly, FTP sites and, several other platforms.

4. 3D Studio Max

3D Studio Max is an old-time favorite for many when it comes to making 3D animations, games, images, and models. Apart from being used by builders, contractors, and architects, 3D Studio Max has also been used by TV commercial studios, video game development studios, and more.

3D Studio Max is ideal for 3D presentations because it enables users to develop complete architectural visualizations of a project using photo-realistic renderings and professional animations and walkthroughs. This software is also incredible for importing 2D drawings and then turning them into 3D versions that are fully rendered, textured, and lit.

Best Resource Management Software for Architects: Bridgit Bench

Top general contractors and specialty contractors (including architects) in North America use Bridgit Bench when it comes to resource planning and workforce management for architecture projects. That’s because software simplifies the construction process using a construction resource management system that makes workforce planning easier.

Architects use this program for various tasks such as project tracking, capacity management, skills tracking, forecasting, utilization reporting, and much more. Its features are aplenty, including full project history, powerful Gantt views, real-time dashboards, infinite projects and users, order integrations, open API, and dedicated applications for Android and iOS.

Bridgit Bench also offers real-time utilization and capacity management, simplified skill tracking, easy-to-use resource allocation, strong data insights, and visualization.

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Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a skylight

Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a
skylight

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Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a
skylight

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Bathroom renovations can be fun, exciting and sometimes even stressful. Over the years, we have seen bathrooms morph from only functional spaces to highly stylized rooms of function that speak not only of personal style but also in customized luxury. It may be a “spa-like” retreat or a simple, classic look, a bold, colourful tile or the elegance of book-matched marble on your shower walls. Whatever you desire, today’s bathrooms are delivering large on glam, luxury and functionality. And no matter what your design tastes are, your bathroom is the first room you see in the morning and the last you see at night, and it should reflect a bright start or a relaxational end to your day.

Design trends may come and go, but one thing that does remain consistent when planning a renovation is maximizing lighting – a definite must for a bathroom. When I’m designing a bathroom, I look to add layers of lighting options, and one of them should be natural light – the perfect way to start your day. Adding natural light to a bathroom offers many benefits, starting with our own physical and mental health and well-being to the health of your home. Windows paired with skylights will maximize the amount of natural light in your bathroom and can become the primary source of natural lighting.

Photo by Jeff Mindell
Photo by Jeff Mindell

Installing a skylight in your bathroom will undoubtedly improve the look and feel of your overall design aesthetic, brightening the room and making it feel like a much larger space. The bathroom is also a perfect place to add a skylight or sun tunnels, as you will gain the additional natural light without compromising your privacy.

If you’re wondering how skylights can improve your home’s health, this is where the venting skylight comes into play. VELUX’s programmable skylights will open and help prevent trapped moisture from producing mould or mildew by letting out the humid air and bringing in the fresh air – which is perfect for your bathroom. These are skylights that open to provide fresh air in your room. As hot air rises, this seems a natural addition to the bathroom to assist in the circulation of air and help to prevent trapped moisture from producing mould or mildew.

In the end, be inspired by all that you see in colour, finishes and design, but also be realistic about your space and budget. Good bathroom design should bring together all that is best of what you envision. It should deliver the maximum of light, storage, usage and aesthetics for you while creating a wonderfully luxurious and inviting room that reflects your individuality. Your bathroom should offer you optimal convenience and relaxation for years to come – adding a key element like a skylight to the mix will make it seem like the “icing on the cake.”

If you’re planning to give your bathroom a whole new look by adding a skylight or sun tunnel, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Set a realistic budget. Once you start looking at all the finishes and fixture options available, you may be surprised at the costs involved.
  • Depending on your bathroom size, a series of skylights or sun tunnels can be a complementary design feature.
  • Be sure that when you’re positioning your skylight or sun tunnels, you are also considering the placement of other lighting in the room. Whether it’s pot lights or surface mounted lights, you want to make sure that your ceiling does not appear chaotic or messy in design.
  • Remember, a vented skylight is an excellent option for increased ventilation in the bathroom.
  • Good quality porcelain tile is durable and doesn’t fade from increased amounts of sunlight. If you are south facing, you may be concerned about too much natural light or heat in the summer, consider adding a built-in blind, a perfect option to diffuse the light.

Known for creating innovative, stylish interiors and full-scale design builds, Linda Mazur Design Group is a multi-discipline design firm with more than 15 years of experience in both residential and commercial design.


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5 roof replacement tips you can’t live without

5 roof replacement tips you can’t live without

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5 roof replacement tips you can’t live without

There are several reasons to replace your property’s roofing. But whether it’s due to damages caused by a storm or simply old age, a roofing replacement can help maintain your home’s value and provide adequate protection for your family.

However, this is one home improvement project you need to take seriously. It costs a lot to install a new roof, so you have to make the most out of this major investment.

For that, here are the tips you need to get the best value from your roofing replacement.

1. Have the right reasons

Before you get around to replacing the roofing of your home, you need to have a good reason to do so. Damages due to termite infestation or a strong hurricane warrant a costly replacement, especially if these damages are affecting the structural integrity of your roofing. You can also consider a roofing upgrade if you are planning to sell your home. A new roof can have a lasting impression on serious homebuyers.

2. Consider the materials

Once you have the right reason to replace your roofing, you will need to determine the best types of roofing materials to purchase. Regardless of what your roofing is made of, you should always opt for the highest quality that fits in your budget. You do need to consider the cost of upgrading your roof to a sturdier material. If you are planning to replace your hardwood roofing with lightweight steel, you may need to pay more compared to installing asphalt shingles.

3. Look for the right contractor

Considering the fact that you need to replace the entire roofing system, you will need to get help from an experienced roofer in your area. Of course, this would involve searching online or the local directory for renovation companies that are up for the task. But when it comes to quality, it’s still best to ask for recommendations from people you know. You can also do a background check on a local roofer through the Better Business Bureau. That way, you can determine if a certain contractor is worth your trust and money.

4. Consider lifetime value

A roof replacement should last for a very long time. After all, it doesn’t make sense to pay a lot to replace your damaged shingles and framing only to see these deteriorate within three months. For this, it’s important to compare different replacement strategies. This should help you maximize installation and maintenance costs and ensure that your new roof will stay for the long run.

5. Install mitigating measures

Replacing your roofing doesn’t stop with getting rid of damaged shingles and rehabilitating the framing. You also need to reinforce your new roof so it could withstand extreme weather, termites, and time. For this, it’s best to pick designs that hold fast against extreme winds and install added protections against winter frost. These might cost a lot, but the benefits they offer are worth it.

Roof replacement is a great way to make your home standout and not to mention keep your property structurally sound. Following these tips should give you even more reasons to undertake this value-adding home improvement project.


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DIY lawn tips for homeowners

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DIY lawn tips for homeowners

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For most homeowners, having a green, lush and patchless lawn is a symbol of responsibility, dedication to yard work, and a signal to your neighbors that your home’s interior is as well-kept as its outdoor spaces. Being marked as the neighbor with the browning, weed-infested lawn can be the vision of nightmares for those homeowners who pride themselves on a well-groomed front lawn.

Not only does a luscious lawn accentuate your garden, but it provides excellent outdoor space for your kids to blow off steam. To maintain this play-pad and lawn-game arena, it takes more than just planting some grass and hoping it grows. To achieve that widely coveted green lawn, you’ll have to give it some tender loving care.

Attaining that full and healthy lawn is a multi-step process. Lawn-care practices such as selecting the right type of grass for your climatic zone, picking great quality seeds, and watering go a long way in realizing your dream lawn goals. Below are some DIY tips that can help guide you through the process, so your lawn can be the talk-of-the-town (or, at least, the pinnacle of lawn-care success in your immediate neighborhood).

Choosing between sod and seeds

Whether you’re rejuvenating an old lawn or growing a new one, you may find yourself at a crossroads when choosing between sod and grass seed. Understanding the difference between the two and the unique benefits of each option sets a course of action for achieving your lawn goals.

Both start in seed form. Sod is simply transplanted from the well-maintained farms directly to your lawns. When choosing between the two, the convenience factor and your level of patience may influence your decision.

Advantages of raising your lawn from seeds

It’s cheaper to nurture your lawn from a standard grass seed than it is to purchase sod. Despite popular misconceptions, planting grass seed doesn’t require a green thumb. In fact, it’s a simple garden practice that even the most inexperienced homeowners can perform.

An upside of growing your lawn from grass seed is that you have a greater variety of grass types to choose from and intersperse in your backyard. The ability to customize your own grass variety is important, as the type of grass planted is the biggest determinant in how your lawn will perform. With seeds, you’re in control. You can assure that your grass germinates and matures in the same place, giving your grasses a chance to establish and develop healthy root systems.

Disadvantages of grass seeds

Since you’re the initial grower, seeds will require a lot more maintenance (such as constant irrigation). As the gardener and planter, you’re limited to specific time windows, as these grass seeds must be sown in peak growth times. These peak growth times will, ultimately, depend on grass types you handpick.

Unlike sod, you will have to wait for the seed to germinate, grow, and mature before you notice any sizable results. If you’re a homeowner who craves instant gratification, purchasing sod may be a better fit for your household.

Advantages of sod

For those homeowners who are interested in the instant results of sod application and want to transform their backyard overnight, you can purchase sod from your local sod farm or a nearby home improvement store.

After installing your sod, your lawn will appear thriving, mature, and well-nourished. Sod takes just a couple of weeks to be properly rooted on the site. Areas in your front or backyard that are prone to soil erosion can benefit immensely from sod applications, as these patches of sod act like a blanket and hold the soil in place.

With sod, you won’t be limited by restrictive planting times and peak planting windows. Sod can be installed at any time of the year, except during months of extreme heat.

Downside of starting with sod

Unlike grass seeds, fully-grown sod is very expensive. You may also have to hire a professional to install your sod to properly complete the job. Hiring a professional may be inevitable if you are physically incapable of performing manual labor or if your busy schedule doesn’t allow weekend projects like sod installation.

A poorly installed sod lawn has visible seams and bad rooting. You may face several challenges in transplanting the grass to your property if your yard’s conditions vary tremendously from the conditions of the farm where the sod was grown. Sod also has a narrow transplanting window. The ideal time for transplanting sod is no more than 24 hours after being cut.

Select the right grass type

There are lots of factors to consider when selecting the right grass type for your particular lawn. Different strains of grass perform differently under different climatic conditions. Depending on the grass type’s tolerance to warm or cool conditions, you’ll want to select a grass type designed to withstand the weather conditions of your neighborhood.

Some grasses are ideal for a lawn in warm regions, while others perform exceptionally in cold regions. Warm-season grasses, like Bermuda grass, do well in the summer heat and year-round warm climatic conditions. Cool-season grasses, such as ryegrass, fescues and Kentucky bluegrass, excel in the cool temperatures of spring, fall, and winter.

When choosing the best grass for your backyard, consider the purpose of your lawn, how much maintenance you’re willing to dedicate to your lawn, and other region-specific climatic and erosion factors. For more information on how to find the best grass type for your region, check out this helpful resource.

Purchase premium quality seeds

The key to a successfully established lawn is the use of premium quality seeds, best suited to your property site. The label on the seed package is an invaluable source of information for assessing how well-suited a seed is to your specific region. In the US, by law, all seed labels must be printed with 100% accurate information.

Quality seeds come at a higher price. When purchasing lawn seed, consider the germination percentage. Only purchase seed whose package label indicates a germination rate of 85 per cent and above. You can tell the amount of non-seed material in the package by checking the percentage of inert matter. This should be less than two per cent. The weed percentage is the total weight of all weed seeds and should ideally be no more than 0.5 per cent. Noxious weeds like quack grass shouldn’t be present in your seed bags.

Manage irrigation wisely

Lawn grasses spike in growth when watered deeply in less frequent intervals. This ensures the roots are deep, so the grass is not susceptible to drought conditions. With a good sprinkler system, you can grow healthier grass and still save money, by reducing water consumption.

Some grasses require less watering and are, therefore, ideal for the inaccessible and hard-to-water areas of your lawn. While the watering schedule may vary with the seasons, it’s important to always accommodate the requirements of your lawn.

Besides boosting the curb appeal of your home, a flourishing lawn can help establish a welcoming environment for potential houseguests, the occasional visitor, and all backyard barbeque attendees. Once your lawn is rooted or your sod is applied, you can invest in a deck, an in-ground pool, or you can hire a team of contractors to build the front deck of your dreams.

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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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For the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which recently embarked on its third full year of operations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is as unique a challenge as we have faced in our journey together with Ontario’s condominium communities thus far.

Yet, as chair of the CAO’s Board of Directors, I am proud of the steps our organization is taking in light of the current situation, and I remain optimistic about what lies ahead. Our vision has always been to promote harmonious condo communities across the province and to be of value to condo owners. By empowering the growing number of Ontarian’s who take part in this unique form of homeownership, we remain committed to achieving these goals.

We operate under the Condominium Act, 1998 (the Act), and we have a mandate to support consumer protection by providing services and resources for condo owners, buyers and directors across Ontario. This mandate remains our priority, even as we proceed through the uncertainty created by the current situation, which has had a significant impact on our province.

Suite of resources

I take great pride in announcing that we continue to deliver our full suite of resources and services throughout the pandemic to the more than 1.6 million condo residents in the 11,000-plus condo communities across Ontario. Ever since we were identified as an essential service by the provincial government in March, our dedicated team has not missed a beat, transitioning to a work-from-home business continuity plan, and maintaining the service standards that owners, directors and all our users have come to appreciate.

Our website is updated regularly and is where users can continue to access all our digital resources. Our information services team remains available by email or phone to help users and answer questions and concerns directly. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), Canada’s first fully online tribunal, has also stayed active throughout the pandemic, accepting cases and resolving disputes.

What’s more, we recognize the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 situation poses for condo communities, and have responded accordingly with new measures to provide additional support during this difficult time.

In addition to the 25-per-cent assessment fee reduction already implemented for the year, all late fees were suspended until June 30, 2020. We have also been ramping up our efforts to help condo directors meet the six-month deadline to complete director training. We want to keep directors active on their boards, so that they can continue to operate on behalf of owners and provide their corporation with governance and guidance, which are especially needed in this uncertain period.

Unique pressures

Condo owners in particular face a unique set of financial pressures, which may prevent them from making their common expense payments. With this in mind, our staff developed resources to help corporations consider various factors when trying to strike a balance between the collective owners’ interests and an individual unit owner’s circumstance.

Our team is also hard at work developing new resources to help owners navigate the constantly evolving ways that business must be conducted now and in the future. One example is in-person owners’ meetings, which are now a health and safety concern. To lessen the need for face-to-face contact, we created a guide to help condo corporations establish a bylaw for holding owners’ meetings and/or voting by telephonic or electronic means. We also provided an overview of the subsequent temporary changes to the Act, introduced through the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order, to provide temporary relief for how and when owners’ meetings can be held.

With social distancing becoming our new collective reality, the place that we each call home has never been more important. For us at the CAO, this means doing everything in our power to ensure that Ontario’s condo communities can continue in a manner that respects their collective responsibility for addressing the current situation, while still striving towards harmonious condo living for each and every member.

In our efforts to connect with owners across the province, we encourage you to subscribe to subscriptions@condoauthorityontario.ca for further updates from the CAO, and to share this article with other owners and members of your own condo community.

Heather Zordel is Chair, Board of Directors, of the Condominium Authority of Ontario, Toronto.


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Royal LePage

Should real estate agents invest in Facebook or Google Ads?

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Should real estate agents invest in Facebook or Google Ads?

Royal LePage
Photo: Royal LePage

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It’s a tough world out there. As the world becomes a global village and embraces tech-friendliness, real estate agents might wonder if they’re slowly losing relevance as a real estate agent. Unless they get on this fast-moving train.

If you’re a realtor and you’ve decided to promote your real estate business online, you may be wondering whether to use Facebook or Google Ads to market your services.

This is where your search ends; here, we offer some valuable tips on how to select the right marketing platform.

So, Google or Facebook? Let’s dive into that!

The basics – lead classification

The essence of online marketing is generating leads, right? With marketing, you gain awareness for your brand and ideally convert leads into paying clients. From your clients, you can get positive reviews for your business to further strengthen your brand. All of this starts with gaining leads and nurturing them effectively. However, before you begin seeking out leads through Facebook or Google Ads, you need to establish some facts:

What should be the intent of your lead?

You must quickly figure out which leads are interested in taking immediate actions, and which platform they typically use. With this knowledge, you can then channel your energy into the right platform. For example, a lead that checks land transfer tax in Toronto is likely buying a property in Toronto.

Know your lead acquisition cost

Your lead acquisition cost (LAC) is the net cost spent on getting a single lead. If the total cost expended on getting one lead surpasses how much the customer brings into the business, you would be at a loss in the long term. This is why you must choose a marketing channel with a lower LAC.

Types of leads

Classifying leads based on age, city and other demographic information would help create a superb online strategy. For instance, you may be searching for specific real estate leads in Canada – rather than in the U.S. Another way of segmenting leads is based on their ability to afford the kind of property you’re offering.

After lead segmentation, you can then decide which of Google Ads or Facebook would better position you to find the right leads.

Online leads are classified into three broad categories: Buyer leads, seller leads and agents.

Buyer leads

Buyer leads are individuals that are ready to strike the deal and get that house. If you are targeting these kinds of leads, you should make Google your preferred marketing channel.

Why? When a person performs a Google search, it shows an already bloomed interest. So, we have found Google to be the best when it comes to intents such as this. A similar benefit of using Google Ads is the ability to target a specific region. For instance, if your aim is lead generation in Canada, you can make that extremely succinct on Google, while still getting leads that are ready to strike the deal.

Seller leads

Seller leads are individuals who are looking to lay off their property. Similar to buyer leads, seller leads would preferably make a Google search rather than wait for a selling opportunity to appear on their Facebook timeline.

While traditional marketing teaches us to approach potential customers, online marketing allows us to be approached by ready-to-buy customers. And, this is exactly what you do with a Google Ad.

Agent leads

These include leads who are acting on behalf of customers. In this regard, Facebook Ads would likely be more productive. Why?

With Facebook, you can target customers – agents in this case. And, this is a huge advantage.

The bottom line

So, should you use Google Ads or Facebook? Your choice should depend on:

  • The kinds of lead you are targeting
  • The lead acquisition cost for each channel, and
  • Which channel offers you the best lead segmentation

While Google Ads are generally more effective for buyer and seller leads, Facebook ads are preferable if you’re targeting agent leads.

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5 ways homebuilders and renovators can also profit from real estate CRM

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5 ways homebuilders and renovators can also profit from real estate CRM

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Often interchangeably used by the public, homebuilders, renovators and realtors are, indeed, different professions. They sound like they are doing the same thing, and the nature of the work – construction and sale of a residence – can generally be similar, but their duties are different. Homebuilders’ work can be identical to that of real estate agents, and both can take of a great gadget – a real estate CRM – which provides the following benefits:

Maintain contacts

Just as keeping important contacts is essential to a realtor, builders and renovators can also be on top of their connections. Connections are critical to every business. For home renovators, contacts mean everything. With a CRM system, clients and potential customers can be kept in one place. Doing this will allow you to access them to proceed with a job or make new contracts easily.

Just like that, following up with existing clients will be necessary. And having a full list in front of you each day will only make things more productive and well-organized. Also, these contacts can be synced into the CRM to be accessed by any tech device to channel information from anywhere at any time.

Organize jobs

An excellent performing real estate CRM from sites such as IXACT Contact can provide efficient keep up to everyday tasks. It will be able to offer you information that you may otherwise forget on a daily basis. House renovating or building jobs will have unique details that can be forgotten if not noted and have set reminders for. So, a CRM can come in handy for providing information for every job and aid efficiency by showing detail on delivery and timelines.

Fast response system

There are thousands of home renovators or builders out there, so better organization using a good CRM can help them stand out from the crowd. These companies need to give reasons for clients to contact them and contract their services. One of the things that customers look for is a stronghold in responding to their piqued inquiries. With CRM, companies can contact their clients from anywhere, even when they’re not online, through an automated response system. But make sure to personalize the electronic response messages to reassure clients that you will reply to them soon.

Find potential clients

Builders and renovators usually have websites or social media accounts to help connect with leads. But not all of them will be interested in contracting services. Some may just have inquiries, while some will be exploring different options. So, with the help of a CRM software, companies can attain information on all their leads by pushing the right buttons and knowing which clients are serious and worth spending time on. This way, companies can get more done in less time, while automating their operations.

Personalize

When companies get useful information by checking up on clients with a CRM, they can personalize their communications. As people usually have emotional attachments to their homes, personal touches go a long way when it comes to renovating, building or buying. Companies can search for the right potential clients and send them messages that touch on their interests, and how you can meet their needs. This will help build deeper connections and understanding with clients.

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