Are You Prepared?

Freezing Rain? Snowfall warnings? What’s next?

As I sit down to write this blog, we are experiencing our first ice storm of the year. This one is pretty minor, but had this been a substantial storm, with damage to hydro lines and more, would you have been prepared? We are fortunate to live in an area where floods, hurricanes, tornados and more are not annual events, but many of us have become too complacent.

Every family (individual) should have a plan in place in case disaster does strike. As REALTORS® we sometimes see the results of not being prepared, whether it be flooded basements from frozen pipes when the hydro went off for an extended period of time, or fire damage after people use the fireplace or woodstove that they never got around to having checked out…

Also, are you prepared should you have an automobile breakdown, and get stranded for a number of hours in the cold? Keep in mind that a couple years ago, Southwestern Ontario motorist were stranded in a snowstorm for 2 days in their automobiles. Would you have stayed warm, had food and water, and lasted for the 2 days?

There are a number of websites that provide a detailed plan to get prepared. I have listed a few of them below.

If you are looking to have your house checked out to be sure its systems are in good shape, speak to your REALTOR®. They should be able to provide you with the names of some contractors/inspectors that can be of assistance to you.


Since we are in the middle of an extreme cold weather system I thought I share with you some information on home safety in this kind of environment.

The first thing home owners worry about during extreme cold weather is frozen water pipes so here are a few tips or precautions you can take to avoid any damages.

  • Outside faucets that are dripping or leaking should be repaired prior to the winter season
  • Disconnect outside water hoses otherwise they will freeze and expand and damage the hose as well as outside faucets and connecting pipes
  • If you are going to be away from home during the winter it is a good idea to turn off the main water supply to the house. Be sure to set the furnace to a minimum 10 degrees celsius
  • If you have any pipes running along outside walls make sure they are insulated or allow the hot and cold water to trickle over night
  • If you have pipes running in an unheated area such as a crawl space add insulation such as heat tape or thermostat controlled heat cables
  • If you have discovered frozen pipes be sure to shut off the main water supply
  • If the frozen pipe is exposed use a hair dryer or space heater to thaw the ice blockage. DO NOT use an open flame
  • After they are thawed examine pipes for any leakage. Even if you don’t find any leaks you should have a professional plumber inspect the pipes that were frozen

Have you ever noticed that your heating system only breaks down or it isn’t working to its capacity when you’re in a deep freeze? Always make sure your heating system has a regular maintenance plan to ensure it is working properly. This will help you avoid a possible break down. Also make sure your furnace filters are cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. You should also clean your warm air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Also make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpet or draperies. One more thing, don’t forget to have any wood burning device cleaned and inspected before the cold weather arrives.

So snuggle up, stay warm, and have a hot toddy. It won’t last forever!

Please feel free to share any tips of your own.



Are You Inviting Strangers in While You Are Away?

Be sure you are not asking to have you home broken into while you are away.

This time of year many are fortunate enough to be able to head off to warmer climates, maybe for just a week or some for months at a time. I have compiled a number of recommendations as to what to do to safeguard your home while you are away. These suggestions cover keeping your home secure, and also preventing unexpected incidents. Here they are…

  • Cancel the newspaper and redirect your mail. Alternatively have someone retrieve these DAILY for you.
  • Have the walk and driveway cleared promptly after a snowfall.
  • Have a friend or neighbour check your home regularly. Insurance companies require frequent monitoring and many require notice that the house will not be occupied.
  • Use timers to have various lights come on in the house to mimic someone being home.
  • Don’t leave a key hidden outside your house.
  • Lock up or put away your valuables.
  • Turn off the water valve for all outside taps. You may also want to turn off the main water supply, depending on how long you plan to be away.
  • Turn off the water supply to your toilets. (Prevent expensive leaks)
  • Ensure that all windows are locked. Be sure to secure sliding doors perhaps with wood at the bottom to prevent the door sliding.
  • If you have an attached garage be sure it is secure. An interior door can provide hidden access for a would be thief.
  • If you have an alarm, be sure to let the monitoring company know you are away, and provide contact information.
  • Be aware of what you post on social media. Save the holiday pictures for then you are back home.
  • Turn down the thermostat. About 12 degrees will keep everything functioning and not waste your money heating an empty house.
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater.

These are just a few suggestions to keep in mind. There is no 100% guarantee, but if you take some measures, you will limit your risk.

One last thought – Have a great holiday!

If you have any tips, please let us know.


Another common question I get asked by homeowners is, ‘should I put my house on the market during the winter months?’ In my opinion there are usually fewer houses for sale during this time of year therefore there is less competition to get your house sold and you may even sell it for a higher price.

When selling your house during the winter months you need to prepare your home differently than you would if you were selling your house any other time of year. Let me go through a few items that will need special attention.

First, make sure all walkways are free from ice and snow at all times. The last thing you want is a potential buyer injuring themselves on your property as this could result in a law suit. Since it becomes dark earlier in the day this time of year, make sure all exterior lighting is left on before you leave for work in the morning as there may be showings in the early evening before you return from work. This will provide better vision for the REALTOR® and their clients. It also makes it easier to access the lock box. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to open a lock box and put the key in the door in the dark. And a reminder to all the REALTORS® out there, if you show the home and the lights have been left on for you, please leave them on as there may be another showing after yours.

Now for the interior of the home. It is always a good practice to leave one or two lights on inside so the REALTOR® and their clients are not entering a dark house. Also it is a good idea to have a large floor mat and even a boot tray at the front door, especially when there is an Open House. It is difficult for the REALTOR® to ensure your house stays clean if there is no mat to step onto to remove wet shoes and boots.

These are just a couple of tips to make viewing your home a more enjoyable experience for the potential buyers. If any homeowners or REALTORS® have any tips of your own please share with your fellow readers. For more information on the advantages of selling your home during the winter months please contact a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate, Brokerage Sales Representative at 905-388-1110 or 905-522-1110 or at


Thinking About Becoming a Real Estate Sales Person?

Big Money, Set Your Own Schedule, Why not try real estate?

I know a lot of people believe the above sentence to be true, but as a 28+ year practicing REALTOR® I can tell you that’s not how it works.

I am often asked how one can get into selling real estate, so I thought I would provide some information for anyone who might be giving it some thought.

In order to help people buy and sell homes in Ontario, you need to be licensed through the Real Estate Council of Ontario. In order to be able to apply for your license, there are a number of criteria.

1) you need to be at least 18 years of age
2) have a secondary school diploma or higher (or complete the OREA Real Estate College Admissions test)
3) Complete the required courses

The required courses are offered by the Ontario Real Estate Association, and are provided online, by correspondence and in class. You have the option of selecting how you wish to take the courses, except for the third course that requires your presence in a classroom setting.

From the point you start the first course until you finish the third one, you have 18 months. If you do not complete them in the 18 month time period, you will be required to start over from course one, should you decide to proceed with obtaining your real estate license. The courses cover a variety of topics regarding Real Estate as a profession, but do not provide any marketing or sales skills. Those skills will need to be developed after you complete the licensing courses, and should be offered by the real estate brokerage you join.

Once you have completed the courses (or perhaps while you are still taking the courses) you should interview a number of different brokerages to find one that will offer you lots of training and also will be a good fit for you personally and financially.

Common questions are: How long will it take to complete the courses? When will I start earning money? How much does it cost?

The average time period to complete the courses is 5 to 6 months. You can do it quicker if you really work at it. I know of one person who completed them all in 7 weeks, but I can tell you that would have been a full time job.

The average time to actually get a paycheck is 90 to 120 days from when you start. Some individuals start off right away with a sale, but remember there is a time period from buying a house to moving in, and the REALTOR® doesn’t get paid until the seller receives their money. (60 days is a pretty average closing time)

The courses, getting your license, paying your Errors and Omissions Insurance, and joining the local, provincial and national real estate associations costs, in total, around $5000.00. This may seem like a lot just looking at it, but remember you are starting your own business, and the payback on your $5000 investment can be pretty fast.

I know I used the word ‘average’ a lot, but there is no set rule on how long to finish (except for the 18 month max), and each person’s experience in starting is different. Some may come from a sales background and be fast off the start, or know a few people who are ready to buy or sell.

The real estate profession is a relationship type of business, it is not just showing properties and writing up offers. If you are not inclined to ask people for business (prospecting) and want to help them solve their housing needs/problems, this is not the profession for you.

Real Estate can be a very rewarding profession. You meet some wonderful people, both through clients, and also through REALTORS® you meet during the course of business. You see people at the best and their worst, and hopefully you help them get where they need or want to be.

If you would like more information on becoming a REALTOR® our company hosts monthly information sessions which go into detail of exactly what is involved in getting licensed and also outline what our Brand (Coldwell Banker) is all about, and what our Company, Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate, does to help our sales reps reach their full potential, and why we think our company is such a great place to work. If you would like to attend a session, please contact Carolyn Bowman at 905-522-1110, or