Real Advice With Rita: Moving to a New Province, House Flipping, and Affordable Towns

Tuesday Oct 05th, 2021






Dear Rita,

We want to get out of Toronto and plan to move to Gatineau, Quebec. We are working with an agent. The biggest challenge we face is that houses sell in less than two weeks, limiting our ability to view and make offers. Any suggestions on how to resolve this?

-On the Move

Hi On the Move, 

Moving to a new province can be overwhelming! Thankfully, there are a number of digital tools a REALTOR® can use to help you view properties from your couch in Toronto

Listings these days don’t just have photographs, listing agents can also add video tours and 3D models or can host a live stream open house. These technologies bring the listing to life beyond just a static floor plan. 

If the home you’re interested in doesn’t have a video or 3D tour readily available, ask your REALTOR® if they can arrange a virtual walkthrough with the listing agent. This will allow you to quickly see a home, without the added travel time. 

If you are seeing a house virtually, make sure you ask these 10 questions.

I understand it’s frustrating to watch houses sell at lightning fast speeds while you watch from the sidelines, but the latest statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association say national home sales continue to moderate. As housing markets become more balanced, the frenzied pace should begin to level off (but I can’t really predict the future, so only time will tell). 

I should also point out: all real estate is local. So, conditions in your particular market might be slightly different than the national trends. Talk to your REALTOR® about the conditions in the area you’re interested in.

With a little time, patience and assistance from your REALTOR®, you’ll find the home of your dreams.

Hey Rita,

My wife and I just bought a house in Windsor, Ontario. We plan to make some minor improvements (laminate flooring throughout the main floor/paint). How soon can we expect to turn a sizable profit ($50,000 or more)? We’d like to buy something new.

-Ready to Flip

Hi Flip,

The fun (read: not-so-fun) thing about renovating a house is you don’t really know how much value it will add to the property. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula to making a profit on your housing investments. There are a lot of factors at play: housing market conditions, supply/demand, quality of work and personal preference (maybe buyers don’t love laminate flooring as much as you do).

There are a few renovations experts say you should stay away from when it comes to heritage homes. Upgrades that will take away from the home’s original charm like removing plaster crown moulding, solid wood finishes or hardwood floors.

Some renovations can actually hurt your resale value. Swimming pools (can be a lot of work and costly), trendy designs (remember when pink bathtubs and toilets were popular?) and custom-built, built-in furniture (too personal) are all projects I would consider renovation no-nos if we’re talking about resale value.

You should consider looking at the functional components (HVAC system, insulation, windows, electrical) of your house. How do they stack up to the condition and aesthetics of the rest of the home? 

However, when it comes to highly competitive markets, you can forget everything I just said. When demand is high and supply is low, buyers are willing to look past certain features. 

You know the drill: talking to a REALTOR® who specializes in your neighbourhood is a great first step. They can help you understand what the current market conditions are in your area. They would also have a feel for what kind of features buyers in the area are interested in. This will help you focus on what upgrades are worth your time and money.

Hi Rita, 

Where are the most affordable cities/towns to purchase a home in Ontario? What are the average costs in those places? I am planning to buy my first home next year.

-First-time Home Buyer

Hi First-timer!

Buying your first home is an exciting adventure! It also sounds like you’re open to relocating, which is another adventure all on its own.

If we’re looking at average prices, northern Ontario is the most affordable region. According to my friends at the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average price in Timmins for July 2021 was $226,701, Sault Ste. Marie was $266,159, and Thunder Bay was $309,950. 

Areas that are the farthest from big cities tend to offer more affordable options. Places like CornwallRenfrew, Sudbury, and North Bay all have an average home price cost below $400,000. 

It’s important to remember average prices only tell part of the story. Home prices can vary widely, and one high-valued property can throw off the average. Let’s say there were five homes sold in Rita-ville, four homes were sold for $10 (a bargain, I know!) and one home sold for $900,000. The average price would be $180,008—much higher than our $10 bargain homes. 

These average prices might give you a good idea of where you want to start looking, but a local REALTOR® will be able to paint the full picture for you. They can help you find a neighbourhood that works for you and a home that meets your needs and budget.

Happy hunting!

Dear Rita,

I’m obsessed with white subway tile backsplashes! I can’t stop looking at Instagram photos of my dream kitchens. How can I achieve a high end look on a low budget?

-Budget Savvy

Hi Savvy,

There are a lot of home improvement projects you can do on a budget—and lucky for you, a kitchen backsplash is one of them! 

Tiling takes skill and patience and is generally best left to a contractor. Thankfully, peel-and-stick tiles have come a long way. They’re available in a variety of sizes, colours, and styles. They’re also relatively easy to install! Make sure the area you want to “tile” is clean and dry (you might want to use a degreaser cleanser if there is any oil on your walls—this will help the tiles stick and prevent the corners from lifting. If your walls are uneven in any way, you might want to sand the surface a bit to get it completely flat. 

Make sure you measure the surface area, so you know how many tiles you’ll need and if there are any weird angles. You might need to cut tiles in half or smaller parts to fill in any gaps. If you are cutting tiles, make sure you’re using a sharp knife so you don’t damage the tile or leave weird, uneven edges.

Complete your project in small sections.

When removing the paper backing, start with half and follow any orientation arrows on the backing to make sure your tile is laid in the proper direction. 

Keep extra tiles around in case of future repairs and when you’re ready to remove or replace your tiles, use some gentle heat to help lift the adhesive.

Good luck!

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