Holding Steady in an Uncertain Market: The Rural Boom

Spending time in your family home in the wilderness a few months is restorative.  For many, hunting and fishing can make time stand still, in a good way.  

That’s why people love my neck of the woods.  Bancroft is a sanctuary for many, even those who don't live here year round.  

Make no mistake though, the real estate market has changed in rural areas.  It will change more.  The Globe and Mail reported in March on the growth of towns within 100km of the GTA.  They're becoming commuter towns, even if the commutes are crazy. Then the Toronto Star reported just this week on the cost of recreational homes and cottages in Haliburton soaring.  It is happening in Bancroft.  We are no longer an affordable Muskoka.  

Vacant land is becoming difficult to get hold of on some of the most popular lakes in the Bancroft area, like Paudash and Baptiste.  

Should you wait much longer to get your lake home search started?  

Or should you hold out on your higher price if you have such a property for sale?

Will small lake cottages even be an option in five years?

In many areas, the answer could be no.

I know people who have been waiting to buy until the bubble bursts.  They've been waiting almost a decade.  I know people who become rushed to sale, convinced the peak is here.  They missed out on higher returns.  We don't know.  The cooling of the GTA market, by legislation, will come to mean something for rural Ontario over the next few seasons but luxury properties could be safe for yet a few more.  

I think now is a good/great time to sell but I can't tell you it's the best time to sell.  We will only know that in hindsight.  You will do well if you sell now. 

Now is not the ideal time to buy, but things could get more expensive.  The march of time shows us this.  Move now, but go in with a good down payment and lock in low interest rates.  That is the best way to protect yourself from volatility. 

Change is not necessarily a bad thing.   Our industry has dealt well with the shift to digital real estate searches on REALTOR.ca and clients are better informed of their rights and obligations now.  Cell phones allow me to handle multiple transactions at once.  I can get signatures from clients around the world to ensure deals get done in a timely manner.  It's good!

My hope is that residential homes that aren't as recreational, and not as attractive to city buyers, remain affordable and attached to the cost of living here.   

I have been adapting to change in this industry for almost 30 years.  I will continue to change and grow.  I've seen three recessions and uncertain times in global markets at least eight other times.  I look forward to helping you through this next round. 

Check out RECO for more information on the changing real estate landscape.

Warmly, 

Sharon

What do you need to know before committing to a Realtor?

What do you need to know before committing to a Realtor?

It shouldn't surprise you to know that I have some thoughts about hiring someone to help you out with real estate.  Because I've been helping people with real estate for a long time and I've seen the problems that come with poor vetting.  

What do first-time buyers need to know about their Realtor® before committing?

Your realtor® is your partner-in-crime when it comes to getting a great deal on real estate. Although you have access to more information in the housing market than ever, without the proper training to evaluate, filter and process that information, you are facing overload that will not help you seal a better deal.  This is where a great realtor® comes into play.  Here are some of the most important questions to ask when vetting your real estate partner, especially if you are a first time home buyer.

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Land of their dreams in the pouring rain: Steve and Eve Johnson

Land of their dreams in the pouring rain: Steve and Eve Johnson

I am not a big fan of DIY real estate.  There is a lot to know.  And even for clients who like doing things themselves, most eventually realize that realtors add a lot.  So I like to go with my clients to potential listings, to help them see what I see. 

The Johnsons were referred to me to help them out by the good folks at the town planning office. Steve laughed when he told me that when he emailed another person about finding a good real estate agent. The name he received was the same as the one at the planning office.  

Lucky for me the name was mine.  Thanks guys!

We took a look at the vacant land on a Sunday, in the pouring rain. The property is where the Johnsons plan to spend their retirement years.

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What is an Opinion of Value? Sharon explains.

What is an Opinion of Value? Sharon explains.

Sometimes, before someone lists a property with me, they need to get a sense of the appropriate range of potential values for their property without going through a formal, extensive appraisal process with a Certified Residential Appraiser

As a Realtor® and Broker, I can provide an Opinion of Value, which is a review of sales and property data for similar properties in your area.  As part of the Realtor® Code of Conduct, we are prohibited from providing Opinion of Value on properties in which we have financial interests, where we lack the appropriate technical skills and the fee charged for the OPV has nothing to do with the actual value of the property.  

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The Pen is Mighty: Your Guide to Fine Print in Real Estate

I wonder if I would have even needed glasses were it not for all the fine print I’ve read over the years in real estate.  Yes, the pen is mightier than the sword, even when the print is as tiny as it is on real estate contracts.

Many people assume all the paperwork involved with buying and selling real estate is always perfect. After all, these are professionals drawing up the contracts, right?

Right, but professionals are humans too. And we know that humans are prone to….. mistakes.

So when I tell you to read all the fine print (actually, read the big print as well), it is mandatory. You are signing contracts for large amounts of money. Do not take these binding documents lightly.  I ask all my clients to look closely, ask questions and never sign something they don't understand.

It’s one thing to sign your child up for tae kwondo instead of ballet.  It’s quite another thing to sign up for a mortgage that has holes in it.  Maybe the area in which you are buying doesn’t allow certain sized homes on less than two acres?  Or you sign up for a mortgage five years longer than you had originally intended.  Not a good way to start your retirement!

What if your property taxes are not included in the monthly mortgage payment like you were told?  Terrible things like that really do happen if you don’t pay attention. Or if you have a real estate agent asleep at the wheel.

Being sharp is part of my promise to my clients. The reason is, often I am called on by them to answer questions about contract details.  Sometimes, answering these questions requires some research.  I do that part too.  This afternoon, a property that I have almost sold half a dozen times has a new interested party.  But they have really good questions, ones I haven't been asked.  So I am digging and working to make sure everyone understands the deal.

Clients trust me to be in their corner to fight the devil that hides in the details. And if I can’t answer them with absolute certainty, we will call upon our trusted real estate lawyer to help us.  You never want a Realtor® too proud to look it up or pick up the phone.

At the end of all real estate transactions you will receive a copy of the contract. Make sure you have plenty of room in your filing cabinet by the way. But having a copy won’t do much good if you failed to read it carefully, or left questions unasked to your Realtor®.

Remember: The pen is mightier than the sword even in the world of real estate. And guess who is holding that powerful instrument at the end of the day?

That’s right. You are.

So make sure you don’t use it until you are 100 percent sure you know what’s on the papers in front of you.

Each and every one of them.

PS: You should get familiar with the many real estate forms listed below.  They are all standard for real estate transactions in Ontario.

Click on a form title in the list below to download. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these forms. Acrobat Reader is free to download here.

Check out this resource detailing consumer data on not reading sales contracts fully and this RECO resource cited in this post.

Don't worry.  I have been doing this for almost 30 years.  I have your back.  Call me or click here to book a conversation or showing at a time that works for you.

Thanks!

Sharon

Tina and Steve found their special place on Papineau Lake in Bancroft.

I wanted to take some time to tell you about what it's like to work with me on real estate matters, but not in a flashy, glossy, self-promotion kind of way.  So I figured I would interview some of my past clients and let them tell you!

It’s easy to get a 5-star review on Amazon when you sell a bottle of shampoo. How hard is that? Not. At. All. 

Selling a home or property is a little more complicated.  It takes hard work to make people happy with their real estate transactions.  It takes hard to work to protect clients against shady deals and massive money pits.  

It’s a good thing hard work and I became acquainted decades ago.  From the Navy to real estate, if I know one thing, it's the satisfaction of a job well done. 

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be hearing from some of them about their experiences buying and selling real estate in the Bancroft area with my help. 

Tina and Steve Sharpe hired me to find them a seasonal home on Papineau Lake. We had not met prior to their search.  My number one job with Steve and Tina was to get them closer to making memories on the lake they fell in love with on a vacation.   They made some fond memories on that first trip to Papineau and my job was to help them make more. 

 Steve and Tina Sharpe, Cottage Buyers with Sharon White Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage in 2016

Steve and Tina Sharpe, Cottage Buyers with Sharon White Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage in 2016

“Sharon was very accommodating with our time schedule from our first meeting and beyond. We felt at ease and comfortable with proceeding to work with her from the start,” Tina says.

Steve and Tina mentioned that they had seen other real estate agents waste time with unrealistic pricing on certain listings. They didn’t have time for that as they were eager to begin renovations on their home away from home.

For me, referring superb contractors to my clients is the norm. But Steve and Tina thought I went beyond the call of duty in that area.   And they really liked that I took the time to introduce them to their neighbors along their beautiful new Papineau Lake community.

Sharon took time to introduce us to our abutting neighbors, who we have needed to contact and consult while purchasing our shoreline road allowance.
— Tina Sharpe
 Papineau Lake

Papineau Lake

Helping this lovely couple find a summer home where they could watch glorious sunsets daily was really enjoyable work for me.  I had a foundation of knowledge to work with that makes processes like buying a recreational property smooth.  And I listen.  Everything you need to know about a client is there, if you just listen. 

Not to mention, the Sharpes were great clients.  They were positive, clear and honest in every way.  

“I feel we can contact Sharon at any time to obtain information about our area. I feel we have gained a friend in Bancroft. Sharon was super knowledgeable and great to work with. I would not hesitate to recommend her as an agent," Tina said. 

Thanks guys!

I’m sure glad I didn’t get into the shampoo business!

Have a great March!

Sharon

Is house flipping on TV anything like real life? Kind of.

Yes, I watch home decor and renovation shows.  I too can get pulled into some of these reality shows about easy real estate deals on TV. Flipping houses like you're making burgers and turning a mundane backyard into an oasis in 30 minutes….wow!

It’s hard not to fall in love with these programs.   But I know the reality and it can be quite satisfying, but rarely do projects tie up neatly in a little bow. 

We live in the real world of real estate in Bancroft where not everyone working on the remodeling crew can be on the cover of a fitness magazine. Are these television contractors personal trainers or builders?

I don’t want to sound negative about these reality shows featuring home buying and selling.  There are some similarities with real life.  The reason everything goes so smoothly on a show about renovating a home or getting a house sold in three days is because of the unseen magic behind the cameras.  

It’s the team in the background, off camera that makes everything come together.

Likewise, I see this happen week after week as I connect buyers and sellers. I have had great success selling homes for motivated sellers. The same holds true for the nice folks I’ve assisted in buying their first house or a cottage for their family or retirement dreams.

And yet, there is the unseen with me as well.  I am not a one woman show.  I too have a team.  My team is made up of a network of solid people I’ve met over the years in my community.

From my fellow Realtors®, to contractors, to local shops and restaurants, to community leaders and local newspapers, I have a slew of wonderful people who make my job possible. 

In the real world, there are speed bumps on the path to buying and selling homes. We can’t just edit out the problems that pop up here and there.  That could be stressful if I were going at this business all alone. However, these challenges are hardly ever a big deal because I know I am not in this business by myself:

  1. I have inspectors I can call on a day’s notice.
  2.  I have go-to service providers who know home maintenance like the back of their hand.
  3. I have two local newspapers where I advertise for my clients, and the papers help me with graphic design and branding. 
  4. I have help answering my phone and organizing my contacts. 
  5. I have mortgage brokers, lawyers and environmental service companies that help structure deals in our region. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. The network I have behind me didn’t happen overnight like an HGTV backyard waterfall installation.  It’s taken me decades to learn the ins and outs of the real estate scene in the Bancroft area. Along that journey, I’ve met quality people whom I can trust.

They make me look good and make life easier for the clients who trust me with their real estate deals.

You can’t believe everything you see on TLC when it comes to home remodels and house flipping.  There is no doubt however, that the teams behind the scenes of these shows help make them a hit.

Similarly, my team has helped me clear the path for plenty of customers. We may not work out a deal in 30 minutes like on TV. But we work together to make the process a pleasurable one for all involved.

See you soon!

Sharon

Buying a new property? Here is what you need to know.

The first rule of real estate is simple: Never make an emotional decision.  

The second rule of real estate is Murphy's Law: When things can go wrong, they will.  

Realtors® have a code of conduct. I take this very seriously.  It was developed in 1913 and there is a reason we still use it. 

A REALTOR’s® ethical obligations are based on moral integrity, competent service to clients and customers, and dedication to the interest and welfare of the public. The REALTOR® Code, by setting high standards of professional conduct for REALTORS®, helps to protect Canadians’ rights and interests. It also creates a level of trust between REALTORS® and their clients.
— Canadian Real Estate Association

But I also see my job as protecting people from the first two laws of real estate: making emotional decisions and avoiding calamity.  Here is the advice I give to my clients when I walk them through one of the most important decisions of their lives. 

Stay Focused on Your Needs.

I did not get into business to lecture first time buyers about how to compromise - I am all about making things happen on your terms.  And I've been doing it for almost three decades in the same small town.  Do not let anyone, and we mean ANYONE, drive you off of your square when it comes to your budget or deal-breakers.   Work hard, be demanding of your help, and stay focused on your budget and your needs - now is not a time to keep up with the Joneses.

We have come up with a pre-form specialized for the first time home buyer. Taking the time to fill this out will give you a leg up in the market and help to organize your thoughts.  Print it out and complete for every new place you look at. 

Get the Right Help.

The people that you bring into your life should be professionals at transferring your strategy into reality. If you find people lecturing you on what you "should have" or about "seller's markets," run, don't walk, in the other direction. There are always deals  if you look hard enough and have patience, and you should always reserve the right to walk away from any team member if they are not giving you the insight that you need.

Know Your Rights.

Learn The Real Estate Council of Ontario's Three Pillars of Protection: Insurance, Knowledge and Professional Standards.

Knowledge

Real estate professionals must complete courses before they can enter the real estate sector. And once they are in the profession, they complete additional courses every two years to keep their knowledge up-to-date and their skills sharp.

Professional Standards

Brokers and salespersons are required to uphold professional standards that emphasize treating anyone involved in a transaction with fairness, honesty and integrity, and following rules and regulations that are there to protect consumers. In the rare instance that something goes wrong and you want to complain about your representative or the brokerage, RECO will investigate the complaint and take steps to hold the real estate professional accountable for their actions.

Insurance

Deposit insurance provides you with peace of mind knowing that your hard-earned deposit will be held in trust and insured against loss, insolvency or misappropriation by a brokerage.
— RECO

Making your initial moves in a real estate market is hard, and you are entitled to the protection ensured by working with a great Realtor®

Know the Offer Process

This video from RECO is one I send to my clients to help them understand the high level details around the offer process and subsequent transactions. 

Happy buying and selling!

Sharon

What Are My Options for Buying Vacant Land and Building a Home?

Many people come to our neck of the woods with visions of their perfect home, nestled into stunning landscapes.  Sometimes, their dreams and reality match.  Sometimes though, people can't find a home with the right layout, the right size or the right age for their needs.  

You may not find the home of your dreams in the traditional way. That's ok; you can build it! Custom built homes on vacant land give you the opportunity to create your living space brick by brick. What's more, you may actually save money. Let's take a look at some of your options.

Building From Scratch on Vacant Land

Buying land and building a house from scratch is one of the most exciting experiences that you can undertake in the real estate market. You have full reign over the feature set of the home, you can build it with the exact materials that you want, and you can fit the home to your needs.

Building from scratch can also be less expensive than a factory built home in certain cases. With the right real estate agent helping you find and broker deals, you can profit on the buy of the land and the construction of the home as well. The process is detailed; however, if you are looking for customization, this is the way to go.  

With all vacant land purchases where you intend to build, you have to always be sure that electricity and internet - if you want it - can be provided to the lot.  Also, you need to think about where your water will come from and the anticipated changes in property tax after your build is complete.  Working with respected real estate professionals will enable you to ensure you don't make an investment that will not return in the future due to an amateur mistake.  Trust me, I've seen it. 

Buying a Pre-Built (or 'Pre-Fab') Home

The traditional path of buying a pre-built home is still quite popular in Canada, and if you can find a basic house frame that you can update later, then this may be the most convenient pathway for you.  Pre-fab is fast.  Building a foundation for the home is takes some time.  

Often the pre-fab companies can do 100% of the build, including foundation, for a higher price than if you were to sub-contract all of the jobs individually.  The advantage of getting the builders to take over the project is that you don't have to.  

Popular options in our area include Canada Builds, Canadian Timber, Royal Homes and Guildcrest Homes

Some pre-fab builders are getting into the Tiny House movement.  This Toronto pre-fab company  went totally viral with their tiny home.

The Factory Built Home

If you have a plot of land but you do not necessarily need a fully customized house, a factory built home is an incredible option.  They're actually becoming really popular and are shedding their boring reputation

According to the Canadian Manufactured Housing Institute, Canada has around 13,000 factory built single family homes that are built every year. The factory built home has a framework that is already put together, and once the materials get to the construction site, the home can be assembled in a matter of days!

Factory build homes can look really great.  They don't have to be cosmetically boring.  

DIY Home Kits

So these are interesting.  DIY Home Kits are unassembled homes in a box that you put together.  They've been around since the 1970s and they are the most hands-on of the options.  If you've got some pre-existing skills, these can be extremely cheap.  I like this guide from ReThink Rural

There you have it.  Doors are open for vacant land buyers and your options are more plentiful than you thought. 

Warmly, 

Sharon

Does staging a home really work? Sharon White gives you the goods.

Be Home Smart: What to Look for Before You Buy

Does Staging a Home Really Work?

There is a great deal of strategy that goes into selling a home, and a huge part of that strategy is staging.  However, you must understand what staging actually accomplishes before you put too much faith in the process.

Raising the Perceived Value of a Home

Raising the perceived value of real estate is not the purpose of staging.  Unless the staging furniture and accessories are a part of the deal, no savvy buyer is going to be fooled by an extravagant arrangement into putting more value into the base home and paying more for it.  As a matter of fact, suggesting this even indirectly may offend a more experienced type of buyer, and it definitely should not be done for higher level properties.

What is the Purpose of Staging a Home?

Instead of looking at a home staging operation as a value grab, look at staging as a way to improve the quality of the potential buyer. Because you are showing how a home could look when properly furnished, you give a strong visual to a buyer with the money to actually make that look happen.  Although you be less likely to squeeze more dollars from the buyer as a result of staging, you WILL have more buyers with money looking at your property.  This puts you in a better position to sell over or above asking.  You end up gaining money from a shorter time on market, a smoother closing process and less negotiation over repairs and other particulars.

The Difference Between a Home Stager & Staging Photographer

Properly staging a home is done in two separate steps.  A professional home stager is the equivalent of the merchandising agent for your home; this is the person with the interior design experience to properly match colors, space the home, offer the advice to remove family photos from the stage, etc. 

A staging photographer will find the best angles and lighting for the staging once it is set. You should not look to the photographer for tips on interior design; this is done during the first part of the process! Make sure that you understand the two distinct stages of staging so that you get the best look for your impending sale.  Home staging definitely improves your chances of making a real estate deal smooth and profitable.  

If you have any questions about home staging, give me a call.  We can connect you to the right people, and I certainly integrate some home staging guidance into my support for clients.  I am here to help you improve the volume and the quality of buyer looking at your property so that you have an easier time selling!

Warmly, 

Sharon

Explained: Real Estate Jargon for Newbies!

The 5 Industry Abbreviations that First Time Home Buyers Need to Know

To get the best deal on your starter home, it can seem like you need an encyclopedic knowledge of local real estate, a great agent to navigate the deal, and a solid grasp of real estate lingo.  If English is your first language, imagine the entire closing table discussion taking place in Korean. Do you think you might lose a few bucks in the exchange? 

Lingo is that language that makes the small print even smaller.  Here are 5 industry abbreviations that you need to know about as a first time home buyer.

CMHC - The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

The CMHC acts as administrator of the National Housing Act for the federal government and sells many mortgage insurance products that may help first time home buyers more cost effectively purchase a home.  If a buyer places less than 20% down on a home, an extra insurance payment must be made to the CMHC, and this is the organization that regulates many of the uses of a particular property.

xB/xB - The Bedroom/Bathroom Count

Rewind back to algebra class and look at the above abbreviation like a math equation. "X" is usually a variable that gets replaced by a number, right? You have undoubtedly seen a listing in the formal "3B/3B" or "2B/2.5B." This is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home, the most important rooms to consider when it comes to assessing value and determining the function of a home.

"3B/3B" is fairly straightforward - this is a home that has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. However, a listing such as "3B/2.5B" may be a bit confusing.  A half-bath simply means that the bathroom only has a toilet and a sink.  You may also see a listing with 2.75B or 1.75B, meaning one of the bathrooms has a shower without a tub.

f/fin bsmt - Fully Furnished Basement

If you are looking for a basement space that has the same amenities as a bedroom, then you need to look for the abbreviation "f/fin bsmt" or something similar.  A home may be listed as fully furnished; however, the basement is not included unless you see this abbreviation specifically.

Other helpful sites:

Here is a list of almost every real estate abbreviation I can think of, and it doesn't appear to be industry sponsored if that makes you more comfortable. 

I also like this list from the guys over at Bigger Pockets

And I am always happy to help you further, just send me a text at 613 334 5614 or call toll-free to 888-667-7653.

Happy searching!  

Sharon

Knowledge is Power: Educate yourself with these reliable Canadian real estate resources for buyers and sellers.

I've been helping people find their homes and businesses since 1989.  I used to spend hours by the copier creating listing window displays for people strolling main street.  I used to carry large folders of listings around in my car so that I could let any potential client know about what was available in our community at any time. Stats and trends were previously available only to licensed professionals, and this protected the industry, certainly, but it also reduced the amount of knowledge about real estate out there to help people.  

Around 2007, things really started to change.  Facebook had just started and it would take a few years before we were doing business on Facebook but the writing was on the wall.  Email became a mainstream way of doing business.  I could text people who were lost on the way to meeting me at a bush property!  And then Google Maps started actually covering our area pretty well about 5 years ago, and that was a game changer for out-of-town clients!

But then the shift to mainstream online real estate came a bounty of people trying to confuse and manipulate people seeking to buy or sell their properties.  There is a sea of bad ideas out there on the internet, and I don't want people to be taken advantage of.

So I decided to compile a list of reputable Canadian resources to help you make great real estate decisions.  The more you study these, the more you will realize that this stuff can be complicated and hiring a Realtor® is a good idea.  Think about it like an insurance policy against expensive errors, as long as you hire one with a good reputation in your area.  

MLS (Realtor.ca)

The Multiple Listing Service is the standard for the real estate industry. This is where you find real time housing prices and the most up to date listings. You may not be able to access these listings without the help of a real estate agent, so make sure that you have the right people on your side.

 Realtor.ca

Realtor.ca

RECO

The Real Estate Council of Ontario is the final authority for all real estate professionals in Ontario. This is the institution that makes sure there is a level playing field for everyone who is trying to buy real estate in the area. They can be contacted at (416) 207-4800, and you should call them if you believe that you have experienced an illegality or fraud in your transaction.

 RECO

RECO

Ratehub.ca

If you are looking for a highly reputable product comparison website, there are few more reputable than Ratehub. A few clicks are all that separate you from various resources including precise real estate calculators, the most current mortgage rates, education centres and many other tools. The site is also highly organized, so you will be able to find the resource that you are looking for very quickly.

CMHC Calculators

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is known for having the best calculators for figuring out your real estate finances. Figures calculated are based on consistently updated rates for housing prices and insurance rates.

CMHC Home Buying Guide

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also has a step by step guide that gives you all of the information that you need for a wise decision for a buy or a sell from start to finish. You will learn everything from real estate jargon to the financial responsibilities that you take on immediately upon becoming a homeowner.

MoneySense.ca

MoneySense is a personal finance resource that has some of the best tools for real estate purchase and sale around. If you are looking specifically for real estate advice, you can take advantage of the robust search engine on the website.

 money sense

money sense

Sharon White Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage 

I spend a lot of time curating resources, inspiration and tips on my social media feeds for the savvy buyer and seller.  I also spend a lot of time understanding my home region and supporting local businesses.  These set me apart from my competitors. 

 sharon white on facebook!

sharon white on facebook!

I specialize in the Bancroft, North Hastings, Haliburton, Minden, L'Amable and Maynooth areas and we are full service.  

You can follow us on the social media platform of your preference!

Instagram (@sharonwhiterealestate):

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Twitter (@SharonWhiteTeam)

Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ Below:

And you can always give us a call, text or email with any questions, any time you need!

Take care, 

Sharon

How Do I Buy Home Insurance?

How Do I Buy Home Insurance?

Home insurance is meant to protect homeowners from huge, unexpected out of pocket costs from theft and damage. It is also usually a legal requirement for owning a home if you are financing that home. Even if it wasn't, investing in the protection of the biggest asset you will ever own is a great move. Here are the basics about home insurance in Canada and how you can get the best insurance for your needs.

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Notes on how to buy a cottage in rural Ontario from Sharon White Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

Notes on how to buy a cottage in rural Ontario from Sharon White Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

Our little corner of Ontario has beautiful lake-spotted landscapes, a growing artisan culture of local food production and appealing recreational options for all kinds of families, travelers and people looking for a rest.  We are open to new seasonal and recreational property owners who enjoy the fishing, hunting and clean air of country living.  Here are some of the best tips for starting the search for your cottage dreams in one of the cleanest, greenest places on earth.

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A Bancroft getaway: Dragonfly Landing B&B

A Bancroft getaway: Dragonfly Landing B&B

We have known Kimberlee for a few years.  She's been a friend and has a great eye for space, design and staging.  Earlier this year, I had a knee replacement and we asked Kim if she could help organize our home so that my rehabilitation would go smoothly.  She did an extraordinary job and I am so grateful.  Kim and her husband Rick are the owners and operators of Dragonfly Landing B&B, a gorgeous local retreat that deserves your attention.  

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Paudash Lake: Views from the Sky

We threw together this little 1.5 minute look at Paudash Lake.  If you're from the area or cottage here, you can share this with people who ask, "Where's Bancroft?"

Paudash Lake, Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.  YouTube link here

A Sunny Afternoon Drive to Coe Hill: The Barn Chefs and The Old Ormsby Schoolhouse

A Sunny Afternoon Drive to Coe Hill: The Barn Chefs and The Old Ormsby Schoolhouse

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I snuck out for an afternoon drive down Lower Faraday Road from Paudash to Coe Hill. 

Earlier that week, I was in Coe Hill for a showing of this century home and I stumbled across The Barn Chefs.  I had no idea this place even existed, but apparently they've been open since May of 2016!  It's a humble wooden building with a giant barbecue on the deck and truly elite food inside. I grabbed a smattering of charcuterie and their macaroons and vowed to come back later in the week. 

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Capture Your Light Portraits, Jaimie Jolly and Posies: A local photo shoot to celebrate 6 months!

Capture Your Light Portraits, Jaimie Jolly and Posies: A local photo shoot to celebrate 6 months!

My family organized a photo shoot at Capture Your Light Portraits by Gail Burstyn for our half-year anniversary as Sharon White Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage and for my 62nd birthday!

It was a total surprise and it was really fun. Gail was a total professional - and she had some bubbly for us to sip on throughout the session!  She sure does know how to relax a subject!

New mama Jaimie Jolly did our make-up.  She was super efficient, despite the heat of the afternoon sun beaming down on her, working magic in a few minutes.  Jaimie was a total treat to have around and does make up for all sorts of events around Bancroft.  Check out my "before Jaimie" and "after Jaimie" pictures below, with a list of the Arbonne products she used.  

And then they surprised me with a new shirt and jacket from Posies (I hope you know about their awesome 70% and 50% off racks). 

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Staying Safe in the Sun on our Gorgeous Bancroft Lakes

Staying Safe in the Sun on our Gorgeous Bancroft Lakes

I'm a one, you're a two and you're a three," I shared with two girlfriends as I doused every patch of my skin with SPF 70 sunscreen spray. The numbers refer to the Fitzpatrick skin scale, developed by Harvard dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick. The scale classifies how different people respond to ultraviolet light – specifically to one hour of sunlight on the first day of spring. So when my friends and I were in Las Vegas this weekend, the intense winter white I cultivated under scrubs and artificial lights all season was ready to burn....

See the rest of this post on the website of the Paudash Lake Conservation Association here

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