Friday, February 21, 2014

Getting Territorial: Should you be looking for a “neighbourhood specialist”?

What really matters when choosing an Ottawa real estate agent? Depth of experience, certainly. Track record, naturally. Professionalism, definitely.

Emotions play into the decision, too: good personal rapport between you and your agent generally translates to a better all-over experience.

But there’s one factor that shouldn’t carry as much weight as it often does. More and more, I’m seeing agents promote themselves as “neighbourhood experts”, suggesting that they have the inside scoop on a given part of the city because it’s their home turf.

I can hear you thinking: “But I’m looking to move to Awesometown! Why wouldn’t I want to hook up with an agent who’s lived in Awesometown for fifteen years?”

Well, if that agent happens to check all the other boxes, by all means. But what exactly is it that a self-appointed “neighbourhood specialist” can offer you?

A good agent, regardless of where they live, will use all possible resources to research the heck out of a neighbourhood. A good agent will understand the trajectory of a neighbourhood: where it’s been and where it’s headed. A good agent will lay the groundwork with the numbers – finding “comparables”, as well as statistics on local schools, demographics and taxes – and build out from there.

True, “neighbourhood experts” may know which diner has the best coffee. But, more to the point, are they able to be objective about market values of homes to which they have an emotional connection? Are they able to steer clients towards alternative, promising neighbourhoods if the numbers just aren’t coming together? On occasion, small playing fields lead to tunnel vision.

Consider this: suppose an agent does possess “insider knowledge” about a certain school, street or neighbour. If that knowledge would discourage a purchase, will it necessarily make it to your ear?

Realistically, all real estate agents have zones where their business is concentrated. However, as a realtor based in downtown Ottawa, I’ve helped clients find and sell properties throughout the region, and far beyond the city limits. I do my homework and we’re off, taking my expertise along with me.

The takeaway? Any agent worth her salt can help get you the right house in the right part of town. There’s no need to run screaming from those who claim to be neighbourhood experts; just stay clear-eyed, and don’t give that claim more weight than it deserves.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Start with Your Closet

Guest Blogger - Dean Large, D.I.D. - Astro Design Centre

You’re sitting at your computer, looking at image after image and nothing is catching your eye. One minute you think you’ve nailed it down, but then something else seems better. Finally you just give up and put it off for another year…

Tackling a renovation to your home is a major commitment; you’re deciding to invest tens of thousands of dollars into your dream home. You want to make sure that the decisions you make are the right ones, that they will be both profitable and pleasurable. Instead of going in blind and diving in too deep, here are a few tips that will make the process that much less daunting.

Assess Your Style

                Start with your closet, look at the colours and textures you decide to cover yourself with each and every day. The way you choose to represent yourself to the world is a major hint as to what you are most comfortable with. If you notice that each day you are putting on a strict, tailored uniform of dark denim, a white shirt and a black blazer, it is safe to say that you’re not going to be at one with a room that is frivolous, colourful and whimsical.

Something similar to this contemporary bathroom could be appealing to the persona mentioned above.  It is functional, yet classic and sleek, which in most cases fits their style.

 Consider how you plan to use the space. A family of 5 in a kitchen full of fragile materials such as marble would be a terrible pairing. 

Do not forget to use online resources like Houzz and Pinterest. These are fantastic fountains of ideas, not to mention free. You can enter in the most out of the box concept and something will come up to assist you with your vision.  Once you’ve developed a concept of what you would like, it is time to meet with the professional.

Style Guide

                Working with a designer is a phenomenal way to ensure that you will get a well thought out space that is as functional as it is beautiful. Sometimes the dream of a big prep-island just isn’t feasible given the space, but a designer can help you determine that. It is best to seek out the experts in each field of home renovations. Any of the five designers at Astro Design Centre can help you with this, as they have years of experience working in the kitchen and bath industry. Your designer can help you realize what is feasible with your space, your budget, and your wish list.

                A renovation can be a frightening task, but it needn’t be. Simply step back and evaluate what is a priority. Consider your style, and how you live. Make sure to contact an experienced professional. And most importantly keep in mind that the end result will be worth it!

Here's a great video featuring Dean Large - Trends in Kitchen Design

For all your design needs visit or CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR FREE Design Consultation
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Family Day in Ottawa

With Family Day coming up on Monday February 17th 2014, Ottawa is a hot spot for events! Here is a list of great activities for you and your family to enjoy during this holiday!

  1. The final day of Winterlude 2014! You can see a full schedule of the day's events HERE  
  2. Skate with Mayor Jim Watson at the Rink of Dreams (City Hall) on Monday from 11am - 2pm. And if that doesn't interest you, maybe the free hot chocolate and music will!  
  3. Some Ottawa museums are open for Family Day including: Canadian Museum of History, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Aviation & Space Museum,  Canadian War Museum and Canada Science and Technology Museum. Some are even offering free admission for Family Day

  4. The public is invited to celebrate the 4th Annual English Theatre Family Day in the NAC lobby.  Presented by Boston Pizza, this special event features a cornucopia of hands-on activities for children and the people who love them! Join us for a memorable day of stories, songs, games, interactive displays, and special workshops throughout the NAC.
  5. The final day of "Chill Factor" presented by the Downtown Rideau - a "cool" collection of high fashion, cuisine and culture that takes the edge off winter.    
  6. For the adults, a number of cozy bars and restaurants on Elgin and in the Byward Market will be open for business throughout the day

IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER most major shopping centres are closed Monday with the exception of the Rideau Centre which is open from 10am to 6pm. Stores in the Byward Market are also be open for business. Most grocery stores are closed Monday (Loblaws on Rideau is open 9am-6pm), with the Beer Stores and LCBOs closed as well.


Have a safe and enjoyable long weekend!

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