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Make your basement apartment cozy, bright, and inviting

As everyone knows, I think a basement apartment is a great asset to a home – I even lived in my first one for 8 years! However, when you live in a basement apartment sometimes you need be creative with how you decorate the space in order to maintain that cozy, bright, and inviting feeling that everyone is looking for in their home. When I was living in my basement apartment I found focusing on these 3 things to be really helpful: paint, plants, and light. These little changes are easy, affordable, and can go a long way.

Paint, Paint, Paint!
Focus your attention on light and bright colors. This helps to provide a more open feel that will make the rooms in your home seem larger, brighter, and more inviting. If you’re renting and your landlord doesn’t allow you to paint the apartment, focus on light colored furniture and decorations. It will provide a more open feel throughout.

Add Plants
Brighten up your basement by decorating with plants. Place your plants near any natural light sources. If your light sources are limited, invest in shade plants. Bamboo is one plant to think about because it grows well in limited light.

Light It Up!
Some basement apartments have small windows and limited light. This can make for a dark, cramped space. Optimizing all of the natural light available to you is important so I suggest you do everything you can to encourage natural sunlight in your apartment. You can do this by avoiding any blockage near your windows or using bulbs that mimic sun rays to make up for the lack of natural sunlight available to you. Hanging a mirror on the opposite wall of a window also helps to reflect the natural light in your apartment.

Using the right decorations to enhance the space you have can lighten up any home whether it’s a basement or not. Focus on enhancing the areas of your home you like most and others will notice those parts too.

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Tips to fix up your street view

It’s not only the inside that counts… As a seller, you want potential buyers to not just fall in love with the inside of your house but to instantly fall in love with the outside of your house, too. First impressions are so important when potential buyers are looking at your home. Here are some fixes you can make to enhance the curb appeal of your home.

1. Look from the top

Consider a new roof. Most new homeowners want to spend their money on furniture or kitchen appliances- not a new roof. Despite the investment, a new roof adds great curbside appeal, and the best part is you can often transfer the roof’s warranty to the new homeowner.

2. Little touch ups go a long way

Painting old shutters, front porches, window boxes, doors and decks is really a no-brainer. To ensure your efforts aren’t in vain, prep the area properly and use the right paint products. Talk to an expert at your local paint store and transform a weary-looking exterior on an affordable budget. While you’re at it, look into having any broken glass replaced in windows, as well.

3. Replace, repair, and shine

Hauling out the brass polish and using some elbow grease to brighten up your home’s exterior numbers, door handles and kickplates can create a big impact. Look at different parts of your home like the house number, mailbox, front door mat, and planters. Replacing or repairing these things outside of your home could enhance the street view of your house and help to create a more inviting feel for visitors.

4. Maximize the space you have

If you’re lucky enough to have a front porch, transform it into an outdoor room. A few comfortable chairs, cushions, an outdoor rug and a side table instantly add square footage to your home. As a finishing touch, hang some drapes or blinds to create privacy.

5. Guarantee your R.O.I.

New doors and hardware may be a big plus for buyers looking at the top of their budgets. The same goes with replacing old windows. Potential homebuyers will appreciate that they don’t have to do the work themselves, and it could be the deal maker on the sale of your home.

Enhancing your curb appeal creates a great ambience when you’re approaching a house. Seeing a shiny, clean, and organized exterior shows that you take care of your home and makes the potential buyer feel more comfortable in their decision to purchase.

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Moisture, Air Quality, Your Roof, and Tightening Up!

Has it been a few years since you’ve moved into your home?  Is the wear and tear starting to show?

Here’s where I would put my time and money if it was my place.

Move over mould and mildew
If your bathtub and shower smells musty and you’ve noticed mildew on the ceiling and on the caulking, you’ve got a problem.  If it’s just a matter of poor venting and air circulation, you could get off easy with the replacement of a properly vented higher power bathroom fan for under $100. If you suspect that water is leaking behind the shower and bathtub, you need to call in an expert.  A leaking bathroom could mean disaster if it’s not repaired properly. Spend the money and make sure it’s fixed properly or you’ll be spending twice the amount down the road.

Check the seals and air quality
If it’s not in your budget to replace the doors and windows, you can make some improvements by re-caulking all of the seals around your home. I’ve seen homes with hardly any caulk to seal cracks which means that moisture can get into your home and create a ton of problems you don’t want.  If you have a lot of condensation on your windows in the winter, turn on your bathroom fan or run a dehumidifier to see if that works. If not, you can install an HRV unit (Heat Recovery Ventilator.) For homes with forced-air heating, the unit is connected to the heating system duct-work. The HRV will vent out the home’s old air while drawing in outdoor air and filtering it throughout the house. For new homes, an HRV unit would cost $1,000 to $3,000.

Up on the rooftop
It seems that the roof gets all of the attention but the chimney is just as important and should really be cleaned and inspected every year. Since most people don’t hop up on their rooftops to take a look around, common problems like mortar cracks between the bricks or on the crown of the chimney can let water seep into cracks and cause damage to your attic and ceilings. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have your chimney cleaned to prevent a build-up of creosote and other combustibles to prevent potential fires and flare-ups. Remember that carbon monoxide is generated anywhere fuel is burned and if your chimney is cracked, the deadly fumes can be drawn back down into your home.  I say spend the $150 and have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected each year – especially if you use your fireplace more than three times a week in the cold weather.

Screw it and save
At a loss for what you can do yourself that doesn’t cost a cent? Instead of dashing out to buy a new door handle or replace your kitchen hardware because it’s loose, spend an hour with a screwdriver and tighten kitchen hinges, bathroom knobs, kitchen pulls and door handles.  It means money saved and time well spent.

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Tips for Home Maintenance this Fall

The nights have been cooling off and the first day of Fall is fast approaching. Every year around this time, in order to avoid possible costly repairs later, I find it helpful to follow a maintenance check to ensure that I’m ready for the upcoming fall and winter season.

Here are three helpful tips to follow through with now in order to help save you money in the long run:

1) Examine your roof and gutters for debris: Take a look up on your rooftop. Clear leaves, dirt, and pine needles from gutters and examine downspouts for damage or loose pieces.  Check any opening on your roof (ie. skylights), as well as, the flashing around your chimney for possible leaks.

2) Change the filters: It is best to change the filters of your furnace regularly, and now is a good time as you switch from AC to forced air heat. Also try running the heat on your furnace now to ensure it is good and running before a cold snap hits. This also gives you the opportunity to run the heat with the windows and doors open to clear out the burnt smell it may give off for a couple minutes on its first use of the season. If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove from the window or place a waterproof cover over it to prevent damage. Other places to change your air filters are in stove vents, clothes dryers and room fans if applicable. Clean air filters will help to keep your family healthier in the fall months.

3) Inspect windows and doors for drafts: A lot of energy is wasted when trying to heat or a cool a home that has drafts coming from windows and doors in the home. I suggest going through your home and checking windows to ensure the seal and caulking around them is in good condition. If you don’t have the funds right now to fix the drafts, a short-term thought is to add heavy drapery around drafty windows to help block some air infiltration.

In order to help you with your home maintenance check this fall, use our Fall Home Maintenance Schedule as a guide.

For more helpful documents for download visit the Lifetime Wealth Academy downloads section at

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How to design your income property to keep things simple!

I want to share this video with you. As you start to invest in more than one property it’s important to keep your tenants happy and your business streamlined. The easier you can make the steps and process, the more organized everything will be. I suggest focusing on the aspects of property ownership that you can keep simple and easy.

Here are some tips on how I’ve been able to keep things simple (and you can too!):

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Increase your ROI with small changes

It’s amazing what changing some light fixtures and door hardware can do!
Light fixtures and door hardware can reveal the true age of a property. Installing proper lighting and a few nifty fixtures in the right places, namely the kitchen and dining room, will brighten up the space and create atmosphere. Touching door hardware is unavoidable when walking through a property, and since it may be the only thing prospective renters will touch, it could have a significant impact on their first impression of the home.
With the right touch, updating light fixtures and door hardware can generate a 60 per cent to 75 per cent ROI.

Keep in mind to always remember that once you’ve made the decision to renovate your income suite, necessary repairs and maintenance should supersede any cosmetic renovation. If ignored these required renovations can often overshadow other improvements. Style preference and proper building materials change, and it’s your job to ensure that your income suite can keep up with the times. These days tenants are more particular than ever, and like any business you must adapt to fulfill their wants and needs. Please your customer while being mind full of the ROI, and you’re on your way to becoming a successful landlord.

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Steps to ensure a successful move-in day

Well, it’s that time again everyone! If your student tenants haven’t already moved in then they are probably in the process right now. My property manager Valerie and I have been working hard to make sure that all of our properties are organized and taken care of and that all of our tenants are happy and informed when it comes to moving into their new home. Making sure you have a foolproof system when moving tenants in and out to ensure a smooth transition is essential. Over the years I’ve found the best ways to do this and have been repeating the same process over and over every year.

Here’s the process I use when moving new tenants in:

1)  I walk through the house when the previous tenants move out. This ensures that if anything is damaged they are held responsible.

2)  I make a list of the items that need to be fixed or replaced in order to make sure the house is ready for the new tenants moving in. You can find the document I use at:

3) After I have handed over the list of items to either a contractor or my property manager, I do a complete walk through a couple days before the new tenants are scheduled to move in to ensure that the fix it list is complete.

4) On move in day myself (or my property manager) meet the new tenants at the house to complete a full walk through of the house with them. We make notes of any defects in the home – we do this because when the tenants move out we will be aware of the defects that existed to the home previous to them moving in. You do not want to hold your new tenants accountable for any damage that may have already been in the house before they moved in.
As well, we do a fire alarm test in the house with the tenants so that we can ensure that all tenants know how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Once the tenants have completed the training they sign off that all of the extinguishers provided to them are in working order.

5) My property manager and I keep our phones close to us the first couple weeks that a tenant has moved in. You want to make yourself as available as possible in case new tenants have any questions or concerns during the moving process.

6) Remember to follow up a couple days after your tenants move in to ensure that they are happy.

To learn more about keeping your tenants happy and having a smooth transition when they move in, watch my video blog at:

Good luck with move in day and keep things as smooth as possible! 

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Heading to Halifax, NS soon – let’s go surfing!

I’m getting really excited to start filming for Canada’s Handyman Challenge. I’ll be heading to Halifax next week to meet all our east coast contestants and start shooting! Last season we had tons of great candidates and I’m convinced this year will bring just as many if not more!

Last year when I went to Halifax I really wanted to go surfing but didn’t have the time. Now that I am heading there again, I’m making it a priority to try it out. Wish me luck and keep your eyes peeled for some surfing pictures – hopefully I don’t bail!

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Sean’s First Income Property! (Toronto Star)


I was on the Toronto Star website today and came across this article about Sean Cooper. Sean is 27 years old and just purchased his first income property – living in the basement and renting out the rest of the house to help supplement the cost. Congratulations homeowner!
I lived in the basement of one of my rental properties for years before I got married and was able to not only save a lot of money but also live for next to nothing while the equity in the home increased. It’s great to hear that our viewers are emulating what we’re teaching on Income Property. If anyone else has bought or is looking to buy an income property let me know how it is going- I look forward to hearing your stories!

To read about Sean Cooper’s journey from renter to homeowner go to:–tenants-help-pay-for-a-first-home

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This property is a deal but how do I clean it up?

Wow! Michael and I just got back from looking at this potential property. The house price is about $70,000.00 undervalue for the area but I wonder – is it worth it, or not? I can’t get the house out of my mind since we left.
One thing I do know is that there are a lot of other properties (and potential investments) all over the place that are in the same condition as the house I saw today. For anyone thinking of purchasing or who have already purchased a property that needs a serious overhaul and cleaning, keep these helpful tips in mind – I know I will be!

If you’re going to tackle the mess yourself –

Be careful
Since you’re cleaning up the mess of someone else you don’t know where all of the clutter has come from, where it’s been or how dirty it really is. This makes the cleaning situation risky to anyone. In order to keep you safe from mold, mildew, rotten food, flammable or toxic materials, make sure that anyone cleaning the home is protected. Masks and gloves are a must but if it’s really bad I suggest a full body painter suit and goggles as well.

Tackle one room at a time
In order to avoid being completely overwhelmed by all of the chaos within the house, try to focus on starting and finishing with one room at a time. I suggest working on the small rooms to start and working your way out into the living room and kitchen areas. Give yourself one goal a day. For example, make a goal to remove all of the items from the bathroom, even if you finish early take a break and start again the next day. Remember that you’ll most likely need to order a portable dumpster as you remove things from the house.

If you’re going to hire a company to clean –

Check with insurance
Sometimes hoarding cleanup is paid for by the renter or homeowner insurance. This is definitely worth looking into since clean up can be expensive, especially if the hoarding has been going on for a long time. Make sure to contact the insurance company before cleanup so you can show them the mess you’ve been left with.


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