Friday, December 8, 2017

Holiday Hosting 2017

With the holidays just around the corner now, there are parties that need a-hosting, and tables that need a-setting. I love to host gatherings with my friends, from simple cocktail parties to extravagant bashes, and of course, dinner parties with my closest friends are always a holiday favourite.
The Cocktail Party

When hosting a cocktail party, since the objective is to have your guests mixing and mingling, it’s easiest to simply set out your food and drinks buffet style. First, re-arrange your furniture to accommodate your guests and allow them the room to move easily throughout the room (setting a table against a large wall in the room, rather than the middle of the room, will allow for a better flow and access). Ensure that you have a pitcher or punch bowl of a non-alcoholic beverage available, and set out with some highball glasses, a bucket of ice, and some lemons and limes for garnishes. Set out wine glasses, as well as an uncorked bottle of red and white (don’t open too many right away, as your guests may bring you a bottle as well). Serve finger foods that are easy to eat and don’t require utensils, and be sure to provide lots of side dishes and napkins. Allow for some rest areas around the room that provide some seating and if possible, some tables for setting down a glass or a plate.
The Dinner Party
When hosting a dinner party, how you choose to dress up your table can set the tone of the evening.. Whether it be simple and elegant, or festive, or even themed, have fun with it. Be sure to set the table before your guests arrive – it will help to avoid the chaos of trying to get it done while entertaining your guests. Set out hand-written place cards for a personal touch, to allow you to select the seat that will allow you the most flexibility to balance serving with entertaining.
The Black Tie Themed Party
If you are hosting a formal, black tie style party, why not set your table in a black tie theme? Choose a black linen tablecloth, and crisp white linen napkins, with black and white dishware. Compliment with some shimmer, such as silver candlesticks, or a centrepiece of silver and gold ornaments. Add a splash of colour with some rose gold or navy blue, both hot colours this season.
Photo Credit: Good Housekeeping
The Festive Party
For a festive party, set your table in the festive colours that you have chosen for your home. Create a feeling of warmth with candles, and bring out the holiday spirit with evergreen sprigs and holly.
Be a Gracious Party Guest

Attending a hosted party this season? Avoid arriving empty-handed. Most hosts will appreciate a contribution to the beverage bar, such as a bottle of wine or after dinner liqueur, but feel free to bring something more personal that can be kept and enjoyed after the party. For some inspiration, check out some of our favourites here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Inexpensive Kitchen Updates that Sell

1. Light Fixtures 

Review all of your lighting in your kitchen and identify when it was last updated? This includes your eating area, above your island (if applicable), and above the sink. As a general rule, if the light fixtures have not been installed within the past 10 years, they will likely need to be replaced. If the light fixtures are the original ones that the builder installed, they should likely be replaced.

Here is what not to do:



Here are some great alternative options: 



While you’re updating your lighting, why not consider adding under-cabinet lights? These add a great task lighting and are a great selling feature! 

2. Faucet/Sink 

Out with the old, and in with the new! If your faucet is showing age and/or wear, upgrading it can be a great low-cost update. 

Find something with a spray head included, and select a faucet that compliments the overall style of the kitchen (i.e. that antique style faucet may look nice, but if your house is a newer house with clean lines and very little traditional style and feel, it may not be the best choice). Brushed nickel is still the preferred choice for the kitchen, but if your light fixtures and/or door hardware has been upgraded to an oil-rubbed bronze, you may want to consider adding a faucet to match. 



Stainless steel sinks are becoming a thing of the past, and are being traded up in favour of granite sinks and other alternatives. If you are replacing your countertops, it would be a great time to consider replacing your sink as well (note that if you are not replacing your counters, you will need to find a sink that is comparable in size to your current sink, and may require some minor counter adjustments to be made).

3. Cabinet Hardware

Plastic, wooden, brass, or other outdated cabinet hardware should be upgraded in favour of a newer style and finish. Again, brushed nickel is the preferred choice, however oil-rubbed bronze is a great consideration if it compliments other aspects of the home. This could be one of the least expensive updates in your kitchen, with the greatest impact.



4. Refinish/Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Remember that when selling a home, our goal is to provide a move-in ready house. If the kitchen cabinets are in need of a facelift but a full renovation is not in the budget, consider painting or refinishing them instead.



5. Backsplash

A backsplash is the finishing touch that every kitchen needs. It’s like that last accessory that you put on to complete your outfit before heading for an evening out! When you’re dressing your kitchen, the backsplash will complete the look. It always amazes me how many homes do not have a backsplash. If you’re installing a new backsplash, and have not yet installed under cabinet lighting, I recommend installing the lighting first, as it will be much more difficult to properly run the electrical for it after the backsplash is installed.



6. Countertops 

It’s truly amazing what a new countertop can do for a kitchen. Most buyers today would prefer to see a granite or other stone countertop in a home, regardless of the price point of the house. Again, our focus is on move-in ready, so if the kitchen is likely to be fully renovated by the new homeowners within a couple of years, you may opt for a low-cost counter solution such as laminate, in an updated style/colour. If the kitchen has a great layout however, and the cabinets are in good shape, it’s unlikely that the new owners would take on a full renovation, in which case an upgrade to a stone countertop is a worthwhile investment. Take a look at this example:


This is a great example of a kitchen with a good layout, and good quality cabinets, but the counter makes it seem dated and uninviting. The home had been previously listed for approximately six months prior to calling Beyond The Stage Homes. The homeowners were concerned that we would suggest a full renovation, but instead we recommended adding a backsplash, new countertop, and updated cabinet hardware. The transformation was just what the home needed. 


7. Appliances 

Most buyers expect to purchase all appliances with the home. While they may not need to be stainless, if they’re dated, or broken in any way, they should be replaced. Check out your local scratch and dent stores for good quality appliances at a discounted price.  








Tuesday, September 12, 2017

11 Things We LOVE about Waterloo Region

#KWAWESOME!!
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.

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[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
www.beyondthestagehomes.com