Real Advice with Rita: REALTOR® Value, Country Living, and Sagging Sofas

Monday Jun 14th, 2021






Dear Rita,
Do I need a REALTOR®? Why can’t I buy a house by myself? Home prices are so high right now, couldn’t I save money this way?
– Independent buyer

Hello Independent,

Would you represent yourself during a criminal trial? Would you try to repair a broken bone? 

OK, that might be hyperbole, but the importance of working with a REALTOR® can’t be overstated. They’re the professionals. Not just anyone can call themselves a REALTOR®.

Buying a home will probably be the largest transaction in your life. The process can be overwhelmingly complex, but it doesn’t need to be a daunting experience. A REALTOR® can help you navigate the process, from determining how much you can afford and narrowing down your must-have list, to exploring neighbourhoods and eventually making an offer

Having an expert by your side is particularly important for first-time home buyers

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to buying a home, working with a REALTOR® can save you time, money, and stress.

If you’re not sure who to work with, try asking a few of these important questions. You need to find someone you get along with, someone you trust and someone you’re confident will have your best interests at heart.

Need to find a REALTOR® in your area? No problem! Check out the Meet a REALTOR® page to get started. 

a modern condo building in the city

Hey Rita,
I’ve always been a city girl, but I don’t think I can afford to buy here. Is it time to move to the country?
– City girl

Hi City girl! 

This has become a hot topic over the last year. 

We’re all spending more time at home than ever before, so home should be a place you want to be. Do you love the bright lights, hum of activity, and skyscrapers dancing in the clouds? Or do you yearn for green space, the chirping of grasshoppers, and dirt roads? 

Much has been written about the pros and cons of rural living, but ultimately it’s a deeply personal decision. If you’re ready to make the leap, find a REALTOR® who works in the area you want to call home. They’ll be able to give you an inside look into what life in the community would look like and help you find a property that suits your needs. 

If you want to stay in the city, again, find a local REALTOR® who knows the neighbourhoods you like so they can help manage your expectations based on your budget. 

You could consider a condo instead of a single-family home. Earlier in the pandemic there was a lot of supply from investors and short-term rentals but economists at the Canadian Real Estate Association say this trend seems to be reversing. While the condo market is heating back up again, cities often have more options when it comes to “affordable” housing: smaller condos, townhomes, or triplexes for example. 

Wherever you choose to live make sure you have a good internet connection if you’re working from home. There’s nothing worse than freezing on an important video call with your boss!

a dog sitting on a chair in the living room looking out the window

Dear Rita,
My dogs love to sit on my couch to see out the living room window, but now I have a sagging sofa. Do you have any tips to add a little life back into my couch?
– Couch crusader 

Hi Crusader,

My dog has been banished from the couch (don’t worry, she has a nice memory foam bed she loves), but I understand why you want to make the sofa a cozy place for your pet

This may seem obvious, but I would start by seeing if you can get some shape back into your pillows/cushions by fluffing them with your hands. Think of it like you’re playing an accordion, pushing the pillow together, then slowly release. 

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Depending on the style of your couch, you may be able to add some extra foam or cotton batting to your cushions. Unzip the casing and see if you can add some additional material to help fill out the cushion. Make sure you cut your foam carefully to fix the cushion cover. You can use a utility knife to carve the foam to get the right contour if your cushions aren’t perfectly rectangular. If you can’t get to a craft store, use what you have at home. My mom used old pillows from the guest bed to add new life to her couch. 

If your dog jumps every time he sees the mail delivery person, the problem could be with your springs. The coils can become bent or twisted. Depending on the style of your couch, you might be able to access the springs without removing any upholstery. You can use pliers to help move them back into position. You can also buy “seat savers” online. These vinyl or plastic support pieces go in-between the cushions and the frame to add extra support.

If your springs are broken, it might be time to see a professional. 

And don’t forget, if you want to keep your pet’s fur off the couch, slipcovers are easy to remove and wash. You can also have more than one so you can easily switch up the vibe of your room.

a man in a kitchen using a composter for fruit and veg

Hi Rita,
I’m trying to be more eco conscientious. Do you have any tips for compost/green bins?
– Trying to be green

Hi Green!

If you live in a municipality offering green bin collection, you should be able to obtain a green bin from them directly. Many offer small kitchen-sized containers, but I think it makes more sense to use something you already have around the house (reuse is one of the “Rs” in recycling after all). 

In our kitchen we use an old coffee container to collect kitchen scraps during the week and empty it into the larger green bin when necessary. (Tip: this might seem strange, but we store ours in the freezer. It keeps the smell—and bugs—away). Other ideas for green bin containers: old laundry detergent containers, plastic storage bins, protein powder containers, or flowerpots. I prefer something with a lid. 

A lot of our kitchen scraps can be put to use in the garden—you can even grow your own produce! Try using the base of a head of romaine to grow your own greens! Just add the base (about one inch) to a shallow dish with some water and place it on a sunny windowsill. Change the water regularly and keep your eye out for any mould.

You can use egg shells, banana peel and coffee grounds directly in your gardens, but for everything else, you can build your own compost bin like this one. If you’re not handy, you can also dig a trench or deep hole. It’s known as the “lazy man’s” method but this hassle-free method will enrich your soil without having a large bin in your yard. This is what we do at our cottage, because, if done correctly, it keeps unwanted pests away.   

There are many other small ways you can start living more “green.”

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