It's that time of year again! A yard with a beautiful landscape is one of the few home investments with a value that increases over the years. Buyers love mature plants and trees, so giving your yard some love even if you're not planning on selling for a few years is a smart way to go. What's even smarter? Employing these money-saving tips:

1. Free mulch.
Many municipalities recycle the yard waste they pick up curbside throughout the year into mulch, which is then made available to residents for free or a very low price. Surrounding your shrubs and trees with a layer of the stuff not only makes them stand out visually, it also helps conserve moisture and stave off bugs.

2. Look to the list.
Craigslist's “farm and garden" section can be a treasure trove of outdoor planters, border stones and even “used" trees and shrubs. Check here first before heading to the nursery.

3. Go big with your neighbors.
Bedding plants are often less expensive when you buy them in bulk.

4. Compost.
Instead of buying bags of fertilizer, generate your own black gold for gardens by composting your kitchen waste. It's not as hard – or smelly – as you'd think.

5. Chat with a master.
Master gardeners often hold free Q&A sessions at garden centers or local libraries. Before investing in new plants, seeds or shrubs, check with an expert to find which options will thrive without expensive maintenance.

6. Rein it in.
Trim back any trees, shrubs or vines that hide or overwhelm your windows, porch or patio. Sometimes the most effective landscaping upgrade can come from removing greenery, not adding it.

7. Pull your weeds.
It's the outdoor equivalent of de-cluttering your home, an inexpensive way to boost your yard's visual appeal.

8. Powerwash fences and patios.
It can take years off your fence and patio in just minutes. You'll be amazed at how much brighter they'll look with just a bit of effort that requires little more skill than running a vacuum. Rent a machine at your local home improvement box store for about $30.

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Buying a home is a huge endeavor. The paperwork, deadlines, and research can all be a little stressful. Couple it with selling a home at the same time, and it can be very overwhelming. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're buying and selling a home simultaneously.

You can buy and sell a home around the same time, but unfortunately it is uncommon to be able to close on a new home the exact same day you sell your old home. It would be awesome if everything was timed so perfectly, but the process isn't that neat. You're at the mercy of the market and potential buyers. You might find a great home you're ready to buy, but no one has put an offer on your current home. Or someone might be ready to scoop up your current home, but you haven't found a new place yet.

There are ways to line up these dates, but chances are, you'll have to focus more on either buying or selling first, and there are pros and cons to each.

The Pros and Cons of Selling First

When you sell your home before buying a new one, you know how much money you have to work with.

It's also easier to get a new mortgage when you've sold your old home. You won't have two mortgage payments holding you back. Logistically, selling first is usually the best way to go. But it does come with a few disadvantages, too.

For one, you could sell without having anything lined up. You may have to rent while you look for a new home, or keep some belongings in storage.

The Pros and Cons of Buying First

If you buy a home before your sell your old one, you have plenty of time to move. This give you more time to get your home ready to sell and ease into the process.

Of course, if your home doesn't sell for a while, you could possibly be paying two mortgages at once. If your home is already paid off, that's not a big deal, but most of us would struggle with two mortgage payments. Plus, it's harder to qualify for a new mortgage if you have two mortgage payments, because you have a much higher debt to income ratio.

If you buy first, one solution is to rent out your old home. This would help you cover the mortgage payments while you move into your new home. Of course, now you have the added responsibilities of becoming a landlord. You will also want to ensure there is a market in your area for rental property.

The Market

While selling first might seem like the best bet, it also depends on the market. That way, you can optimize your stronger role while protecting yourself in the weaker role.

As a general rule, you want to sell first in a buyer's market. In a seller's market, you might consider buying first, provided that your property can indeed sell quickly. Market trends vary not only on a large scale, from city to city, but even within communities. Your Realtor can determine the types of markets to expect in both the community you are selling in and the community you plan to buy in.

Closing Dates

Ideally, you want the closing date on your old home to come after your new home. You can make the selling and buying dates line up a little better by preparing for one while actively doing the other.

For example, if you’re actively selling your current home first, prepare to buy a new home in the mean time. Research your options, keep your credit score high & make sure to discuss your plans with your lender.


With a little preparation, it's possible to minimize the stress of buying and selling a home at the same time. Together with your Lender and your Realtor, come up with a plan for making it as seamless as possible.

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Life with kids can be hectic & messy, putting your home up for sale in the middle of the mix could be chaotic. Here are some great tips to help you from cleaning & purging to constructive ways to involve & excite your kids about this milestone in all your lives!


Before you list your home

  • Start with a good “Spring Clean”! Taking it one room at a time, collect items such as: Outgrown or out of style clothing, surplus items, unused toys, baby gear or fitness equipment. These items can be donated, sold in a garage sale or via local buy & sell websites! Print my home staging check list here.
  • Once your house is free of clutter, get a consultation from a home stager who can help point out what your top priorities should be. A consultation will help you maximize the layout of your space, show you how to use what you have, select neutral, buyer friendly paint colours, and more.
  • It is ideal to try to appeal to as many buyers as possible, increasing the number of eyes on your home. Paint over any wall murals with a nice fresh coat and keep everything as simple and fresh as possible.

Want to take your mural with you? Hire a photographer to document the painting as a high-quality image that you can re-print as a canvas for your new space!

  • Get the kids involved! Moving to a new home can make kids anxious and emotional as they don’t quite understand the idea that their familiar home will become someone else’s. Have them help with the packing, put price stickers on items for an upcoming garage sale, and get them planning their new bedroom or play room!

After you're on the market

  • A good general rule for selling your home while you have kids is to literally be in your house as little as possible. Listing in the spring or summer can help to avoid making mess or clutter, and it’s much easier to take the kids to the park for a half-hour during a last minute showing than to figure out what to do in the dead of winter.
  • Food contributes to a ton of mess, not to mention potential smells that may deter buyers during an open house. Dining out for every meal may not be ideal, so preparing picnic style meals in advance can be helpful when needing a eat on the run.
  • Planning a family vacation? Take it during the sale of your home! With all of the electronic & online systems now available to real estate agents, I can manage showings and you can easily negotiate offers from the comfort of your beach chair or lakeside hammock.
  • Be flexible: It might be nap time for your baby or toddler, but last-minute showing requests do happen. Just remember, this is only temporary. By disallowing showings you could potentially lose a prospective buyer. The more showings you allow, the quicker your home will sell.
  • Create a specific play space, like one location in the basement, and leave just enough toys to keep them busy without too much clutter. Also try to avoid bringing out the “messiest toys” during the time your home is listed. In the case of a last minute showing you don’t want to be caught “Red Handed” with finger paints!
  • Do what you can to reduce your stress level. Prepping your home for a move, on top of managing your daily job, kids’ activities, and more can take its toll. If you can afford it, hire professional packers & movers to save you time and sanity. Everything will be neatly organized, wrapped with care, and ready for your new home while you focus on other things. On a budget?? Provide pizza (and beer) for your friends and family in exchange for their help!

Do you have a tip that helped your family survive a move? Please leave a comment! 

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The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
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