Tuesday, September 12, 2017

11 Things We LOVE about Waterloo Region

Each month, the BTSH team meets to review past, current, and upcoming projects. Often, our discussion will lead us into a chat about some of our favourite places to shop, favourite restaurants, and weekend plans. So, we thought that we would put together a list of some of our favourite things about Waterloo Region and surrounding areas. This is a great city to discover, and we are proud to be a part of the community!

Did you know? Huffington Post reported that Waterloo is one of the top Canadian cities to live, touting our high-tech industry as a catalyst of this.

In a 2016 Moneysense report on the best places in Canada to live, Guelph ranked #10 and Waterloo #3. While this report touted economic factors, mobility factors, and even the weather, locals here have a long list of reasons for loving the area. Here are just a few of ours (not in ranking order, but simply in a random order, though we have noted each team member’s personal favourites):

1.     St Jacobs
With so much to do, what’s not to love about St. Jacobs! From the Farmer’s Market, a great place to stock up on farm to table fresh foods, to an up-close look at a traditional Mennonite culture that has built the community. The Kissing Bridge, Home Hardware, Picard Peanuts, the downtown shops, and even Darryl Sittler!

2.     The Grand River
The Grand River by Paris
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
The Grand River is the largest river that is entirely within southern Ontario's boundaries[1]. Flowing through Grand Valley, Fergus, Elora, Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Paris, Brantford, Caledonia, and Cayuga, the Grand River offers a spectacular scenic view, and draws countless canoers and kayakers during the warmer months. Prefer to stay on land? Take a walk along the Walter Bean Grand River trail, with access to more than 25% of the river’s watershed.

3.     Dare Foods
Did you know? The BTSH office is located within sniffing distance of Dare Foods! From their delicious cookies, to their savoury crisps, this family-owned business has been making delicious snacks for 125 years. What started out in Charles H. Doerr’s small grocery store in the then Berlin, Ontario (now Kitchener), has become an international favourite. Did you know? Dare Foods was one of North America’s first “peanut-free” food manufacturers.
Dare Foods Historical Photo (Photo Credit: Dare Foods Website)

4.     Weston’s
Photo Credit: WestonFoods.ca
Who doesn’t love to drive down Victoria Street in Kitchener to get a delicious whiff of fresh-baked bread! That scent tops pretty much every “best smells ever” list you can find, and in Kitchener, we get to experience it practically on the daily. 

5.     Uptown Waterloo (**Jennifer’s Favourite**)
Don’t you just love it when an outsider asks about Downtown Waterloo, and you quickly correct them, stating that it’s actually Uptown? Uptown Waterloo has earned this classy distinction through it’s shops, festivals, Waterloo Town Square, and it’s rich culture. Some of the region’s best eats can be found in the Uptown blocks.

6.     Ethnic Diversity (**Marina’s Favourite**)
Canada has always been proudly diverse, and this diversity is what has made us such a strong nation. This diversity can be found not only throughout our neighbourhoods, but in the restaurants that we offer, the local community stores, and the Universities and Colleges in the area. Being from an immigrant family herself, this one is naturally marked at Marina’s favourite. Waterloo Region has been a safe refuge for hundreds of years. Immigration to the region was at it’s highest from 1816 to the 1870s, with predominantly German settlers, and their influence continues to enrich our culture.

7.     Proximity to Surrounding Areas and Ease of Day-Trips
Enjoy visiting the bustling metropolitan of Toronto? How about a day-trip to wine-country in beautiful Niagara Falls? While Waterloo Region has lots of shopping and activities to offer, sometimes you just need a mini vacation, and Waterloo Region’s proximity to so many great major cities and tourist attractions allows for just that!

8.     Victoria Park
What’s not to love about Victoria Park? Featured this year on Murdoch Mysteries, Victoria Park offers a great place for a picnic, a scenic park to explore, wildlife, jogging paths, and so much more! You can even find your Chi with Yoga in the Park! A popular spot for wedding photos and events, this city-central park is a great place to unwind and enjoy the day.
Photo Credit: City of Kitchener

9.     Downtown Kitchener
Photo Credit: City of Kitchener
Host to great shops, restaurants, Centre in the Square, The Museum, Food Trucks, outdoor events and festivals and so much more, Kitchener’s downtown is rich in history. The LRT construction has been built with our Kitchener Downtown in mind, servicing numerous growing businesses, including Communitech, Google, Desire2Learn and more!

10.  Festivals and Celebrations, including of course, Oktoberfest (**Jen’s Favourite**)
Photo Credit: KW Multi-Cultural
Did you know? Kitchener’s Oktoberfest is the largest in North America, and is second in the world, next to Munich’s celebration of course. In addition, our Waterloo Region hosts numerous free and low-cost festivals and events throughout the region and throughout the year. From the Bluesfest of Downtown Kitchener to the Jazz Fest of Uptown Waterloo, not to mention our Ribfests, Multi-cultural festival, and too many more to mention.


11.  Construction (**Shauna Lynn’s Favourite**)
This one might get some haters, but Shauna Lynn has claimed this one as her personal favourite. Yes, the past couple of years have seen the most significant changes, and construction can make our commutes longer, not to mention that they are noisy, and often downright inconvenient. So, why did our owner mark this one as a favourite? It’s simple – construction is a sign of improvement and a good infrastructure sets a strong foundation for our city…literally. Our cities put forth a great effort to ensure that our drainage systems are working effectively, and as our city continues to grow, so do our infrastructure needs. Our region is always looking to the future, and takes a proactive approach to improvements rather a reactive approach. The considerations of any project include the short-term and long-term effect on residents, the cost to tax-payers, and the desired long-term outcome and sustainability. Yes, it can make things challenging when you are living or working in a construction zone, but it is our responsibility as a community to make every effort to support these businesses, even when it might take just a little longer to reach them.

Photos taken from down the road from the BTSH Office

You can learn about the latest road closures and project schedules by checking your local municipality website – these are kept current and up-to-date with the latest and upcoming projects. Want to avoid construction on your route to work? Download the PingStreet app to learn of the latest closures, updated regularly.


[1] Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What the Shift in Waterloo Region’s Real Estate Market Means

After about a year and a half of what could only be classified as an extreme seller’s market, you have probably noticed that the tide has turned, and the market has been left a bit more balanced. What does this mean, and why did this happen?

  •  Inventory plays a large factor in this - the more houses available for sale, the more it gives buyers an advantage in the market. According to a recent report by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), “there were 5.1 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of June 2017 – up a full month from where the measure stood in March and the highest level since January 2015”. Real estate, like any market, is all about supply and demand - as supply increases, it helps to outweigh the current demand. 
  • An increase in interest rates, plus a new Ontario housing policy (introduced in late April) have prompted home buyers to carefully consider their next steps. Policy changes include foreign taxes and taxes for properties left vacant, to name a few. 
  • This shift means that buyers are feeling less pressure to make quick purchases, and they want to take their time reviewing the options available, and make their decision based on the house that best fits their criteria. If you are selling your home, this will mean that you will want to ensure that your home appeals to the largest number of buyers possible, allowing you to stand out against your competition (i.e. other homes for sale in your neighbourhood). 
  • Conditional offers are back! During the seller’s market selling spree, it was uncommon for a buyer to place any conditions on their presented offer. A conditional offer means that the buyer has placed one or more conditions on their offer to purchase your home, and these must be met before they will finalize the sale. This may include (but is not limited to) a home inspection, financing, and/or sale of the buyer’s property. 
One thing that remains from the seller’s market is higher home values, and this is something that you can certainly cash in on. At this time, it is difficult to predict whether or not these prices will hold, or whether you will see a dip, but if you need to purchase a new home within Waterloo Region, you will likely enjoy the buying process much more now. That said, the only way to properly evaluate your home’s current value is to speak to a qualified real estate agent who will assess the various factors that affect the price of your home, including the home’s specific features, location, local amenities, comparables, and more.

Get the full story by downloading your FREE copy of our report "Selling Your Home in Waterloo Region - A Homeowner's Guide (Vol 2)".

Phone: 1-266-240-0766
Email: info@btshomes.com

Monday, June 26, 2017

How to Celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday in Waterloo Region

This is a big year for Canada, as well as Waterloo Region! So how can you make this the most memorable birthday yet? Here are just a few ideas that the BTSH team has put together for you:

1. You know how great it is when your birthday lands on the weekend – it means no work, all play, and a leisurely start to the day! Nothing says “Canadian” like morning pancakes or waffles with some local Maple Syrup.
2. Hosting a party? Check out some of our favourite Canadian-themed pins!
3. Create your own fireworks display – here are the by-law guidelines for
    • Kitchener – Canada day or the day prior or after 
    • Waterloo – Canada day or on the 7 days prior or after 
    • Cambridge – Canada day or 2 days prior or after 
    • Guelph – Canada day or the day before 
4. Head to downtown Kitchener for a free concert and fireworks display. Festivities start at 5pm and feature the James Barker Band (19+)! Check out the Kitchener Market 10am-2pm for a family-friendly Canada Day event including live music, face painting, crafts and more!

5. Organize a neighbourhood bike rally – set up a table to supply Canada themed bike decorations, including ribbons, stickers, garland, etc. and invite your neighbours to bring Canadian themed snacks and treats.

6. Dress yourself in your favourite red and whites! Check out Old Navy for some great Canadian themed garbs for every age.
7. Host a Canada Day scavenger hunt - around your neighbourhood or your back yard!
    • For around your neighbourhood, create a list of red, white, or Canadian flag items to be found, and have your players take photos as they uncover these items. 
    • Around your yard, hide red, white, and Canadian themed treats and prizes 
8. Canada Day 2017 at the University of Waterloo celebrates not only Canada’s 150th, but also celebrates the University’s 60th anniversary, PLUS the 50th anniversary of the UW Federation of Students. Celebration includes performance by Tom Cochrane with Red Rider! Get all the details here.

Phone: 1-266-240-0766
Email: info@btshomes.com

Monday, April 10, 2017

Furniture Placement – What Stays & What Goes (When Selling Your Home)

When we style a home, we place furniture for function and living based on how we live in the home. When it comes to selling your home, this may not be the optimal way to showcase it and it’s features, so it is important to review and evaluate what items should remain in each room, and what should be removed for the purposes of staging and selling.

This editing can be critical to creating the right flow throughout the home, allowing your potential buyers to properly “feel” the space and envision themselves in it. Items removed from the room should be stored off-site until the house has sold. In some cases, you may be able to relocate items within the home.
How do you know what stays and what goes?
-        Determine what the style of the room is versus what it should be for the style of house, neighbourhood, and listing price, and select the pieces that best reflect the house’s style.
-        What is the intended purpose of the room? In most cases, a room should have only one purpose and its intended purpose should be clearly outlined in it’s furnishings. If you have been using your dining room as a kids playroom, it will need to be converted back to a dining room to properly show the scale and purpose of the room.
-        For bedrooms, as a general rule, we recommend aiming to show a minimum of 3 of these rooms as bedrooms. We always recommend properly furnishing the smallest of the bedrooms to properly show the scale. As well, if a bedroom has an awkward layout, it is a good idea to show it furnished.
-        Evaluate what items in a room are absolutely necessary for every day function, and then ask whether or not they add to helping to show the room’s purpose and use. If not, try to disguise or hide them, otherwise, remove them temporarily.
-        Are any furniture pieces blocking critical areas such as windows, doors, or vents? If so, be sure to remove them or relocate them to ensure that access to these areas is clear.

-        Are any furniture pieces impeding the natural flow of traffic?
o   “Traffic flow” is something that can very easily turn off buyers, without them consciously realizing it – remove any items that force an unnatural path through the home.
-        What is the quality of the furniture? Heavily damaged furniture should be removed; moderately damaged furniture may be repaired and touched up. Although your furniture is unlikely to be sold with the house, buyers will often judge how a home is cared for by how the furniture is cared for (you’ll often hear this referred to as “Pride of Ownership” or “Pride of Property”).
-        Is the furniture out-of-date? If so, consider removing and replacing when possible.
-        Are any furniture pieces overshadowing the room? It’s great to have some colour in the accents in a room, but bold patterns and/or colours on large furniture pieces can over-shadow the room.

-        Is the room balanced? Every furniture piece has a visual “weight”.
o   Visual Weight – darker pieces and larger pieces are heavier; light coloured pieces and smaller furniture is lighter; glass items should be balanced with “light” furniture
o   Use items such as artwork, accessories, and plants to help balance areas of a room that are lacking
-        The most important rooms in the home, according to your buyers, are:
o   Kitchens
o   Bathrooms
o   Master bedrooms
o   Living rooms
-        First impression areas should also receive special attention, including the front entry, and any other rooms clearly within view from the entrance of the home.
Once you have determined what stays, you must then determine if anything additional should be added to the room to highlight the features. You may choose to purchase these items, or you may wish to rent them from your home staging provider. Regardless, your new furniture plan will only be effective with the proper finishing touches.
For more information on how to stage your home, or to get assistance with everything from pre-listing staging to decor and furniture rentals, contact Beyond The Stage Homes!

Phone: 1-266-240-0766
Email: info@btshomes.com

Friday, February 24, 2017

How to Declutter Before Moving

By: Samantha and Emilio - KW Professional Organizers

We want you to have a stress- and anxiety-free move. Here are the TOP SIX benefits for why you should declutter before moving homes:

* Getting rid of the clutter will allow you to relax and feel great!
* The Home Staging process will be faster and more effective.
* Your home will look inviting and it will attract more buyers.
* Save time, energy and $$ by not moving unnecessary items.
* Less time spent unpacking in your new home; arranging only the items you love.
* Sell and/or Auction Unwanted items to get $$ back.


1. WHAT’S YOUR WHY? What do you want? Why do you want it? How are these goals going to make your life better?

2. CAN YOU PICTURE IT? Visualize your ideal space. What does it look like? How do you feel when you are there? Having a clear vision in your mind that motivates you will make the process of decluttering and moving way easier. You will also have a better understanding for what items to take with you and what to leave behind. What kind of activities would you like to do in the new space? Make sure to set up the spaces according to your needs.

HELPFUL TIP: Are you moving into a smaller space? Having detailed measurements of every room can help you decide if an item will fit in the space or not. Measure and play with the layout before you move in.

3. PICKING A SPACE TO START. What is your first priority? What space can you benefit the most from? It’s very powerful to be able to start and finish one area. You will be able to experience a functional and inviting space. This will empower you to keep going with other areas.

4. ACCEPT HELP. Yes, it is true. Getting help makes the decluttering process much faster and more fun! Having someone else will help you feel supported, give you extra hands, help you keep the motivation going and keep you accountable.

5. SCHEDULE THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF TIME. Be realistic. This is a tough one. It will depend on how fast you make decisions, how much help you have, and how many items there are in the space. Don’t try to do it all at once. Take whatever you estimated and add 2 more hours ;)

6. TAKE BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS. Pictures are not just for professionals to build their portfolios. Taking photographs will help you see your accomplishment and will be motivation you for future sessions.
“When you understand what drives you, what truly motivates you, you are then able to create an environment that facilitates your goals. It frees up space so the new you can step in. There is purpose in how you live.” - Lanna Nakone, Organizing for Your Brain Type.

7. SET UP A STATION. If possible set up a folding table in the space you are working. Only deal with the items on the table. Keep focused and use a timer if you need to. Under the table, have a few bins (donation, recycling, garbage, shredding, belongs in another space, to give to someone, to sell). Every situation will require some or all of these bins. If you have clear space in the room or close by in another room you can make piles there.

8. THE ‘WAVE’ PROCESS. Start on one side of the room and do a “wave” touching every item in the space: Do I need this item? Is it going to help me achieve my goals? Put the item in the proper pile. If you are unsure make a pile of unsure items and go back to it later.
HELPFUL TIP: Taking a photo of an item can help you keep the memory of it without having the physical item. Keep working with the items you know for sure what to do with them.

9. MESSIER BEFORE IT GETS BETTER. Don’t panic. Things will look messier during the beginning of this process. Allowing time to clean up and place things where they belong at the end of the session is very important.

10. GIVE EVERYTHING A ‘HOME’ Every item that stays in the space needs a permanent spot. No excuses.

11. KEEP A TO-DO LIST. As you sort through your items write down every task that comes to mind as you work. It will help you get things done and make smarter decisions. At the end of the session make sure to schedule all the tasks in your calendar.

12. UNWANTED ITEMS. If you know for sure there will be a lot of unwanted items to go for donation, auction, consignment, and/or recycling make sure to arrange for transportation.

13. STORING ITEMS FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Give them a deadline and make sure they are gone before the end of the session. Move them to another space if that’s an option. They need to understand that you are dealing with clutter and working really hard to get your space back. Their stuff is not helping you accomplish your goal.

14. PAPER. Dealing with paper can take a very long time and you won’t see immediate visual results. We recommend putting the paper aside and deal with it in a future session when you have a clear space to tackle it. If you are dealing with paper you may benefit from reading Tips to win the constant battle against paper clutter.






Decluttering your home will allow you to make the process of selling your home and moving seamless.

It will also allow you to get a fresh start. It’s a new chapter in your life and you can decide what that chapter includes.

Don’t want to tackle decluttering on your own? We love working with KW Professional Organizers. Call them today at 226-606-3233!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Dos and Don'ts of Hiring a Designer

·      Provide information regarding your style
o   This may be magazine photos, Pinterest pins, or physical samples – you don’t even have to know what you like about something, but the more information that you can provide to your designer, the better
·      Provide Samples
o   If you have already selected any renovation materials, be sure to have samples of those items available for your designer
·      Provide Creative Autonomy
o   This is something that many homeowners struggle with – remember that you hired your designer for their expert, professional opinion, and there may be times where you will need to trust them to take you outside of your comfort zone.
o   Our goal is to integrate your style with our expertise to create a design plan that you will love for years to come. The more autonomy that we have, the easier it is to create this, but we want to ensure that we do so with your trust and understanding – if at any time you do not feel that you are being heard, or are not comfortable with a decision that has been made, be sure to address it as soon as possible to avoid any issues or unnecessary costs.
o   It’s all in our head - we understand that you may not always be able to see what we see! Sometimes, you may simply need to take a leap of faith and trust, but if this is something that you are not capable of, ask, and we will do our best to provide a visual representation of our vision.
·      Understand what your roles are
o   This is important to address in the beginning, to ensure that there is no confusion.
o   If you are uncertain, ask questions.
o   Your designer should provide you with a contract outlining the scope of the project and any fees, payment schedule, etc – this is intended to protect both you, and your designer

·      Rush
o   Quality takes time! Plan for your design or renovation project – by allowing the proper time needed, your designer will have more flexibility in negotiating the best quality and price for each product/finish selection.
o   Allow sufficient time for create the proper plans for any renovations PRIOR to beginning construction.
·      Be afraid to speak up
o   It’s your house, and your money! The role of a designer is to create a space that fits your style and needs – if you do not like something, be sure to address it with your designer.
o   You get final say, but remember that you hired a designer for a reason – sometimes you just need to trust us and our final vision.
·      Withhold your budget
o   I cannot stress this one enough! Be sure to communicate where your comfort zone is, and plan for a contingency (as a general rule, we recommend allocating approximately 5%-10% of your total budget for design services, however this can vary by project and designer).
o   We often find that clients are afraid to reveal their budget, for fear that we as designers will spend every dime of it. Our role is not to maximize your budget, but to maximize your dollar. The most effective way for us to do this is by ensuring that we can purchase quality products, and have the freedom to explore low-cost options when available.
·      Keep things bottled up

o    All relationships take some element of work, so it may take a little bit of time initially to work out the kinks of understanding, and setting, appropriate boundaries. Be sure to clearly communicate with your designer to ensure that you are on the same page.

Contact Beyond The Stage Homes today to find out how to get your property sold!

Phone: +1 (226) 240-0766
Email: info@btshomes.com