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The following tips will increase your confidence in your ability to take back control of your life.

1. Determine The Size Of The "Opportunity"      

Problems are actually opportunities waiting to be discovered. Adopting this attitude will help you see that you can make choices that will positively impact your life.


Action: recognize that not all debt is equal.  Classify your debt by the interest cost of the debt. The highest interest cost debt is the first opportunity to pursue.


2. Follow The Money

You’ve likely heard the expression “follow the money”. Begin by reviewing your expenses. When expenses exceed income, savings reduction, debt accumulation or both is always the result.  Next, what opportunities exist to increase your income?


Reducing your expenses is often easier than increasing your income. 


Action: make a monthly list of expenses for each of the past 3-6 months and categorize each expense as either “must have” (example: food) or “like to have” (example: entertainment).


3. What Are The Viable Alternatives?

It is easy to get “locked” into your behaviour as it is related to how you spend your money. Your past experiences have shaped your habits and consequently your beliefs about the future . 


Be willing to confront your past behaviour by changing saving and spending habits.


Action: Identify less expensive alternatives for some “must have” and “like to have” purchases with the objective of reducing your total spending.  Establish a savings goal.


4. Start Small

Provide yourself opportunities to succeed. If you start with a small change in behaviour, you can experience success more quickly and provide yourself with needed encouragement.


Action: eliminate one or more small expenses from your “like to have” list.  Use the savings to reduce high interest cost debt and/or increase savings.


5. Celebrate

It is important to recognize the progress that you make on this journey. Keep the celebrations small but do celebrate. They will become a habit that you’ll want to repeat.


Action: set a modest goal that you can achieve quickly. Take the necessary action to achieve your goal; have a small celebration and then repeat the process.


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Send Me Your Wish List

Your Dream Home Wish List 


If you’re thinking about buying your next home or your first home, a wish list can be very helpful to me as your realtor.  When I search for properties for buyers, I am able to drill down a little further and get more specific with a home than a consumer is able to view on, so by sending me your wish list, I can make sure that properties that have what you are looking for are sent to you immediately. 

In Kitchener Waterloo, on any given day there are over 1200 homes listed for sale, by sending me your wish list, I’m able to narrow that amount of listings down to a manageable amount and show you the homes most fitting to your needs and block out any of the white noise from properties that just don’t fit.

When making your wish list I do suggest that your items are categorized into items that you NEED to have and items that you WANT to have and items that would be NICE to have.  This will allow me to meet all your needs immediately, such as number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, price, and location. 

Once I’ve met your needs on a home, I then look for wants, such as finished basements, size of garage, white cabinets in the kitchen, I know that when you are looking for your 2nd, 3rd or even final home, the wants are very specific, since you’ve lived with items you have hated in the past.  Please don’t be shy when providing me with those wants, this is your home and I’ve been tasked to find it and don’t worry, I will! 

Once we’ve found a home that has all your needs and your wants (if it fits the budget) then we can look at the nice to haves, I often look at the nice to haves as items that add value to the home that you are purchasing, but they are also items that if you needed to add them later, you could.  This could be something like a hot tub, a certain type of flooring, maybe even a finished basement (depending on your handy skills).  The nice to have items I often don’t search for in the search criteria, but would be sure to point them out when choosing between more than one home. 
I do caution first time buyers not to go too overboard on your needs and wants, remember to keep your budget in mind so that we can find a realistic home.  If you happen to have a lot of needs and wants, by all means include them so I can look for the dream house, but all choose your top 3 in each category, these are items that you could not live without!  I also like to remind first time buyers that in some cases, the place they are renting or even their parents’ home may be nicer than their budget allows, but not to worry about size all the time, believe me, when you own your own home, no matter how small it is, you will make it yours and feel so happy to have your first home. 

When I look back now to when we were looking for our first home, I cringe to think of the things we would have settled on, but I know we would have still been blissfully happy…for a few years.  If your plan for your first home is more than a few years, please let me know that, I can assist with getting a home with better resale value down the road and one that will allow you to enjoy it now and your returns later when you sell.

No matter which stage in the home buying process you are, send me your wish list and share all your dreams with me, my job is to make those dreams a reality.  I look forward to seeing your wish list and helping you in the future.

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10 Things Your Home Stager Did NOT Learn From HGTV


We get it, you've watched all of the home renovation and home sale shows, read all of the online articles and tips regarding setting up your home to sell, and you have checked off everything on every home selling checklist you could find, so why would you need to hire a Professional Home Stager? We often hear homeowners say, “I don’t need a stager, I watch HGTV all the time, and I know that I need to remove the clutter and the personal items.”


These reality shows have really put the home staging industry in the spotlight over the last few years, and have helped homeowners to better understand the importance of preparing their home prior to listing it for sale. But, while these shows provide the basics of what this preparation involves, they don’t provide the full picture of what it really takes to properly style and STAGE your home in order to evoke the emotional connection that your prospective buyers are looking for.

Your home is one of a kind, and it should be treated as such! You want to stand out from the competition, so why would you use the same checklists as everyone else? Would you clean your own teeth, or would you choose to hire a trained professional to do this for you? Your home deserves the right attention with specific recommendations, geared towards your home, from an expert that specializes in doing just that, in order to highlight your home’s greatest features. So what are these articles and lists NOT telling you? As a Home Stager, these are just a few of the things that we have learned, through our professional training and many years of experience:


      1.      Where to place YOUR furniture so that the room remains open and inviting, while maintaining function and flow


This does not mean simply moving all of your furniture to the edges of the room. This means understanding proper traffic flow, as well as the latest furniture styling trends. We will evaluate what should stay, what should be removed, and where to properly position your furniture to optimize flow, eliminate awkward spaces, and highlight the best features of the room.


      2.      Shelf Styling


By far one of the trickiest decorating techniques to master, this is the art of filling the shelves to catch your eye, without diverting your attention from the room. This means selecting the right size and style of pieces to compliment the space and the shelving unit, and understanding the balance between too little and too much.


      3.     Paint Colour selection


Just because a colour is popular or trendy, does not mean that it’s the best one to use for your home. Colours are selected based on lighting, home style, and the colour of the finishes of the home. Sure, we have our favourites, but each colour is selected to best suit the home.


      4.     What local trades will provide you with the best services, at the best value prices


We have spent a great amount of our time forging valued relationships with highly skilled trades to ensure that you receive quality work, every time. We only work with professionals, and often these professionals will provide special discounts to our clients.


      5.     Where to shop for the final touches and accessories that your home needs


We spend more time than anyone shopping for home décor items and finding the best deals, and we can provide you with some direction on this to help you to avoid driving all around town looking for the perfect piece. Of course, you would save even more time if you hired us to provide you with the accessories and accent pieces that your home needs.


      6.     Which updates/upgrades will most benefit YOUR house in YOUR market, neighbourhood, and price range


We not only evaluate what upgrades and repairs would add to the value of your home, but we look at what will help to increase it’s overall sell-ability – upgrades are not worth much if they’re not the right ones to entice your specific buyers. We consulted on a home once that spent a great deal of money replacing their kitchen, but for their target market, their funds would have been better spent doing other repairs to the home and minor updates to the kitchen.


      7.     How to make a bed


Forget what your mother taught you – making your bed before work, and styling your bed to sell your home are completely different! I can’t tell you how often we see this common mistake in listing photos.


      8.     How to utilize a piece of furniture for an alternate purpose


This does not mean putting an end table in an office and calling it a desk. It’s about thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding the right piece, often within your home already, to fulfill a purpose for a room and help to clearly define the space.


      9.     How to enhance your curb appeal


Yes, cut the grass, trim the trees, and mulch the gardens, we know that you have that covered. But there’s likely more that you should be doing. If your buyers are not engaged with the home before they get to the front door, you could potentially lose out on that sale. We are property stylists, and we want to be sure to create an inviting space, inside and out.


      10.    How to maintain function and daily life, while living in a staged home
      We understand that it’s not easy to maintain a show-ready home, but we have seen it all and are prepared to provide you with easily implementable solutions to help you to get through the day-to-day. Of course the best part is, in a professionally staged home, you won’t have to maintain it for long before it’s SOLD!


The checklists and tips you find online are a great step towards preparing your home, but a Professional Home Stager can provide you with the specific recommendations that will help you to bring in the buyers and sell your home.

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Multiple Offers - Buyer's Perspective 


Multiple offers are the things dreams are made of for sellers, but a nightmare for the buyer.  Today I wanted to provide some tips for buyers who end up in a multiple offer situation.


1.  Don’t wait:  If you’ve found the one, don’t wait to offer on it.  Every day that you wait, other buyers are looking at the property and the more people that see it, the more likely you are to end up in multiple offers

2. Be Ready:  Have your mortgage pre approval, once you have your mortgage pre approval you’ll know what you can afford and you’ll be confident when you put in an offer.  If you have a questionable pre approval it is advised to not get into a multiple offer situation

3. Have your Professionals Ready:  If you do in fact end up offering on a multiple offer situation, you may be asked to tighten up your time frame to complete home inspections and final mortgage approvals and even lawyer tasks.  It is best to know who you will be using for these services and to make sure that you have them ready when you are.

4. Let you agent know your position: Having open and honest communication with your real estate agent is best and you need to let them know how you feel about multiple offers.  If you are willing to compete for the perfect house or if you are willing to walk away and keep looking.  If your agent doesn’t know your true feelings for the house or your motivation, they won’t be able to properly assist.  Remember, with a signed buyer’s commitment, your real estate agent is working for you and you are free to tell them how much you love or hate a house and don’t be afraid to hide your true feelings, chances are your agent doesn’t own that house and won’t be offended.

5. Plan a Strategy:  I can’t give up all my multiple offer strategy tips here, but those of you who have worked with me in multiple offers are aware of what can be done.  One tip that I will provide to everyone is don’t compromise on the big items, if your agent is asking you to remove your conditions of financing (if your financing is unsure) or to remove a home inspection, those aren’t items you should be compromising on.  Maybe not asking for that wall mounted TV or appliances you know the owners want to keep are good items to remove from the offer, but not items that can affect your ability to purchase the house, the added stress isn’t worth it.

6. Remember it’s your Best Shot:  Make sure when you are choosing what price you are going to offer in a multiple offer situation that what you are offering is your one and only chance.  This price is the price you have to live with, make sure it’s a number you can afford, a number that doesn’t make you second guess how much you spent on the house and a number that isn’t just below the other offer and when you found out you lost the house over $1000 you don’t want to kick yourself over and over again.

7. Feel Good about your decision:  Remember that if you don’t get the house you wanted there is always going to be another that you love even more.  If you did get the house in the multiple offer, Congratulations don’t worry if you paid a little more than you wanted, the house was the one and you’ll be there long enough to make a return on your investment.

Multiple offers can be exciting and nerve racking at the same time, make sure you are prepared if the situation arises and remember if you work with a good agent and the home is meant to be yours, it will be!

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Is Furniture Holding you Back?

Is your Furniture Holding you Back?


Are you looking for the perfect home to fit your couch, a Persian rug or maybe a dining room table?  Does this make sense to anyone, why are people buying homes for objects and not for those people who are living in the home?  Too many times I’ve seen families turn down the perfect home in the perfect neighbourhood because it won’t fit their bedroom set or their mirrored dresser. 

Don’t let your things rule your life, the people who live in that home now obviously have a bed and it seems to fit, so sell your larger than normal bed and buy one that fits in that perfect house, or trade with a family member if the item is important to the family.  I understand keeping a family heirloom, but if your home budget doesn’t allow you to buy a home with a living room that is 20x20 then maybe Grandma’s rug should go to a family member who has space for it and then you can find a home that is right for you and your family, not a rug that you feel obligated to keep.

Reality is budget is a large deciding factor in what kind of home you end up in and if you are forced to choose the home with the largest dining room to fit a table you never eat at, you may be giving up on other items that you need such as an extra bathroom, a large yard or even a home in a condition that you can move into right away.

The best suggestion I have to avoid being caught in buying a home for your items is to make a list of why you are moving from your current home, these are items that are driving you out of your current place and into a new one.  Once you know what is driving you out of your current home, what is on your list of need to have and nice to have, knowing the difference between need and want can be very difficult but make the process easier.  If you are buying the home with another person, I strongly suggest making this list together, you may find out that your spouse hates that large couch you inherited and buying a home with space for it makes no sense if it’s uncomfortable anyways.

Remember when you are looking for a home why you are moving, I’m sure your bedroom set didn’t wake up one morning and decide to move because it didn’t like your current neighbour, if you have to part with some items to move to where you want to be, I’m sure your happiness in the new home will outweigh the cost to replace an item that is too large for your new home.

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Do it for Yourself

Do it for Yourself


Packing, Cleaning, Freshening and Staging.  There is a lot of work involved in getting your home ready for sale.  I often have clients tell me after they’ve gone through the list of work to be done for their home that they are so much happier in the home they are looking to sell.  Instead of rushing around last minute to do all the work to give your home to someone else, do those items ahead of time and for yourself to enjoy! 

Everyone knows what needs to be done to their home and any homeowner can name a list as long as their arm of things in their home that bother them.  If those small items bother you, it will bother the buyer of your home as well.  So do those small jobs now, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel about your home and how quick it was to do it.  Doing these small jobs as you go along also save you some time when you are actually ready to list your property, you can focus more on the staging and less on the little jobs that you know should have been done months or even years earlier.

Some examples of small jobs include:  painting scuffed baseboards, caulking countertops and tubs, painting the ceiling, cleaning eavesthrophs both inside and out, straightening kitchen cupboards, replacing taps, laundry hoses, updating lighting, replacing or cleaning older and stained carpet , updating bathroom and kitchen flooring,  and anything else that you notice on a daily basis that needs updating or repair. 

Take the time to show your home the love it deserves and the love that you had for it originally by maintaining it well now so when you are ready to list your property you can focus on the cleanup and staging and less on the small jobs, and you’ll be able to enjoy your home more when the list isn’t getting longer and longer until it becomes a burden. Complete those items for you and your family to enjoy now instead of working hard in the month before you sell your home to let someone else enjoy all your work.

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I am the proud owner of an ugly little house with a lot of personality. Maybe you're in the same boat?


Just over a year ago, my partner and I decided to buy an older home with a great location; we found it in Uptown Waterloo. A far cry from our new-build first house, the Uptown house is a two-story, 1920s double-brick building with some interesting features. Rather than spacious rooms with plumb and level walls, our new house has tiny, divided spaces with lumpy plaster walls — level is just a state of mind anyway. The change has taken some getting used to, but bit-by-bit we’ve been rehabbing the house and making it into a warm space that feels like home.


Here on the blog, I’ll be sharing our various projects, decorating tips and DIY tutorials to hopefully help you make the most of your own space. Since we’re just kicking things off, I thought I would start with three tips for getting your new house to feel like a home as quickly as possible:

  1. Paint. 
    Chances are good that your new house either has the previous owner’s terrible taste splashed all over the place, or looks like it has been dipped in a swimming pool of buyers-beige. As soon as you can, pick up a can of paint and change the wall colour in the main living spaces. Paint is cheap and can have a huge, visual impact. If you’re like me and are nervous about picking a colour, go neutral. A white paint with a hint of blue/grey/green is a lovely fresh look and will go with everything you own.
  1. Hang your Artwork.  
    As soon as those walls have dried, open the moving box marked “Art” and get something personal on those fresh, blank walls. Whether it’s a canvas print, family photos, or your kids finger paintings in dollar-store frames, adding something beautiful to a room will instantly give you that at-home feeling. Like the paint, art is really easy to change and/or rearrange. Don’t get paralyzed by arrangement decisions. Look for some inspiration, then get hanging! If you can't find the box marked "Art" buy yourself some flowers instead — you deserve them; this place is a mess!
  1. Make a Memory. 
    It’s going to take time to settle into your new home. Just looking around at the chaos of moving boxes, furniture and bubble wrap is enough to give anyone buyer’s remorse. So, take an evening, stop unpacking and spend some time with the people you love. Order a pizza, pop a bottle of champagne, and dance around your box-maze-mansion like no one’s watching — although, you’re neighbours probably are watching, so take like 5 minutes and put up a sheet or something before you break out your A-list dance moves.



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Attending Open Houses

Are you going to Open Houses in Kitchener/Waterloo?


Attending open houses can be fun, you can see your neighbours homes, get decorating ideas, go into large homes and dream of the possibilities; but are you doing it right?  When you attend an open house the agent working that open house is there to sell that home or to connect to potential clients.  Are you leading that agent on?  Are you pretending to be an interested buyer?  Are you not interested in the home and walk around giving negative comments? 

While as a realtor we are happy to have people come through the open house, there is some etiquette that we would expect.  If you are a neighbour and simply coming through to “check” out the house just let the realtor know.  I often find that neighbours can be the best source of finding buyers for a home, they let all their friends know how great the neighbourhood is and they see the signs go up first, but if the realtor hosting the open house thinks you are an interested buyer they may be wasting valuable time speaking with you at an open house when they could be answering questions for a truly interested buyer.   The same rules apply if you are a person who frequents open houses as something to do on the weekend or is looking for decorating ideas.  A simple “I’m just looking for decorating ideas” or “I’m a neighbour, not looking to buy myself” can go a long way in an open house and will most likely guarantee you won’t be hounded for information either.

If you are a buyer who is interested in buying but the house is not what you had expected, simply leave.  Remember the agent doesn’t own the house and while constructive feedback is appreciated, often the agent is aware of the condition of the home and if there are obvious defects, they are aware of that too.  When you walk through an open house with lots of negative opinions and there are other people in the house, remember that this may be the home of their dreams or their budget may differ from yours and this home is all they are able to afford and they will make it work.  If you walk around and provide negative comments around every corner you may be jeopardizing the sale of the home.  The agent will not be offended if you simply walk in, say it’s not the right home for you and leave. 

I look forward to seeing you at any open house I hold and hope if you attend other agents open houses that you keep these tips in mind, happy hunting!

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Keep your Floors Clean

Keep your Floors Clean for Bare Feet


With Spring finally here,  more and more buyers are looking at homes and are wearing sandals.  While you may wear summer shoes in your home, buyers feel it’s rude to leave their shoes on in your home, so they take them off and are left with bare feet.

I urge everyone who has their home for sale in the summer to do the barefoot test.  Take a walk around your home like you are a potential buyer in your bare feet and make sure that nothing sticks to your feet, that your feet don’t stick to anything and that your home in general feels clean. 

Areas that I commonly find to be a concern are front entrances, make sure that if you do wear your shoes in the house that you aren’t leaving sand and dirt particles at your front door, a barefoot visitor will grab these on their feet as their first and last impressions.  Basements, all buyers go into the basement, even if you don’t go there a lot, so make sure even your furnace or utility room is clean.  Another basement area that can feel very dirty to bare feet is a kitty litter area, I’ve often walked into a basement and ended up with kitty litter on my feet from little fluffy walking it around the basement.  I would suggest a small carpet outside of your kitty litter box for fluffy to wipe his paws on before he treks it all over the basement.

Buyers will also step outside of your home, into the garage or onto the deck, so make sure those areas are swept up as well.  All areas of your home, inside and out need your attention, not only in the summer, but all year round.
Another item that can set off barefoot buyers is sticky kitchen floors, if you have children I’m sure a spilled drink it common, but in a buyers mind, a sticky floor is dirty and a dirty floor can mean a dirty home which causes them to wonder what else has been left unattended.

Before your home is ready for sale, make sure all areas of your home are bare foot tested and ready for those summer buyers.

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Stephanie Catcher
September 9, 2020
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Steve Catcher
June 9, 2014
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