Wednesday, 19 February 2020

10 Clever Hacks for Small Kitchens

1. Ditch the fruit bowl
Many people have the token fruit bowl—or basket—that takes up prime real estate on their counter. Try placing small bins inside a deep drawer to store fruit and vegetables that don't need to be refrigerated.


2. Store on the door

With just a little paint and some hooks, you're all set to make your own measuring station and conversion cheat sheet on the inside of a cupboard door. Just think, no more searching on your smartphone or tablet with sticky, food-covered fingers.

3. The great shelf recession

Installing shelves between inner wall studs is an efficient way to maximize space and an eye-catching way to store pantry items. 


4. Up your pegboard game

Pegboards are a fantastic way to make use of vertical space in your kitchen. Pegboard kits and components can be found at most hardware stores and adding a coat of paint will make them blend or pop with existing kitchen décor. Try using different styles of pegboard hooks (straight, curved and multi-tool) to hang your cookware and utensils in an organized and tidy fashion.


5. Spice things up

Clean up that jammed spice and baking cupboard with some magnetic spice canisters. Not only handy for spices, but also smaller baking ingredients like baking soda, baking powder, sprinkles or coloured sugar. They sit easily on the side of the fridge or metal strips on the sides of or underneath cabinets. Label them with a personal flair by using chalkboard paint or custom labels.


6. Sliding with style

An ingenious way to make use of extra space around your fridge is to build a sliding cabinet for smaller items like canned goods, spices and kitchen tools. Not only do they look good, but your guests will be all over your space-age kitchen design. 


7. Space with a repurpose

Small kitchens require getting spatially creative when cooking. A DIY stove cover means extra counter and prep space. Consider using a  beautiful wood cutting board or something personalized. 


8. Tip-out below your counter

If your kitchen has false drawers in front of the sink, you can convert them into handy tip-out trays that store sponges and scrubbers- keeping them off the counter and out of the way. 

8. Plain sight, on the side

A rail rack is a superb solution to avoid cluttered drawers by allowing you to conveniently hang utensils on the sides of your cabinets, within reach yet out of the way. They are usually low-cost to either purchase or make yourself.


9. File folders—more than just office supplies

These low-priced office supplies make great holders for things like food wraps, sandwich and freezer bags, container lids or cutting boards. Mounting them on the inside of a cupboard door keeps them within easy reach. 


10. The window of opportunity

If your kitchen has a window, consider making use of that space by installing curtain rods across it and using hooks to hang pots and pans. You could also consider adding a floating shelf or two across your kitchen windows, too.
It's amazing how much space you can find in a small kitchen by changing the way you approach storage. Plus, having a clutter-free space makes cooking more enjoyable. You might even be ready to host the next family holiday meal—a feat long considered impossible, until now.


Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &


      This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

5 Easy Children’s Bedroom Projects to Tackle with Your Extra Day in February

Your tween has been complaining about that toddler-style bedroom and thanks to the leap year, you have an extra day this February. It's the perfect time to revamp the space! If you don't want to spend fistfuls of cash to gut the room, there are plenty of creative ways to swap out the kiddie look for a more grown-up, sophisticated vibe your child will love bringing friends to. Bonus: Your kid can help, too!


Start with art

Refreshing and updating your child’s bedroom doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.  For example, colourful prints add instant character to a space. 
There are loads of free or very inexpensive printables on Etsy, Ikea, Indigo and Pottery Barn all have good framing options.
Encourage your child to create a gallery wall over a dresser by gathering photos of friends, souvenirs of family trips, or their own drawings that can be popped into a frame and grouped together. Hanging the first print four to six inches above the top of the dresser, and then spacing them about three inches apart. Use painters tape to map out the wall before hanging anything.


Perk things up with paint

Transform rooms with budget-friendly paint. 
There are loads of ways, such as painting a half-wall–either on an angle or straight across–which is a great way to add colour.
Or, roll on a coat of chalkboard paint, and let your tween change up the décor with coloured chalk anytime. You can also add a pop of personality by having your kid paint a graffiti mural. Choose from dozens of online printable stencil templates and spray-paint whatever elements you want. 
To add dimension, pair up with your child to hang wallpaper. 
Wall decals are also really fun, and companies are coming out with new designs weekly.


Let there be light

Lighting is one of my favourite ways to elevate the ambience in a space. Whether that’s getting rid of the night-lights or the kiddie lamps with animals on them, lighting makes a huge difference. You can update it with an overhead chandelier that works right all the way through to adulthood.
Floor lamps near a chair provide task lighting and create an overall mood, while wall sconces add a high-end look and are great space-savers. Draping string lights in tween and teen rooms, because they come in all kinds of styles and colours and at rock-bottom prices.


Upcycle old furniture

Scrounge around your basement, the grandparents' house or a weekend flea market to find a vintage dresser that can be reinvented with a coat of paint and funky new hardware. Or, if you can find an old door, there are plenty of ways to upcycle them into a new piece that could make a great addition to any bedroom!


Add interest with accessories

Drape a cozy throw over an armchair set up in a corner of your child's room to add warmth and texture to the space. Repurpose a rustic door by turning it on its side to become a headboard. A boho-style shag rug made of natural fibres like wool instantly lifts a space. 
Also adding a plain linen pin board for tween and teen rooms, which provides a fun and creative way for kids to add pictures and mementos to make it their own.


Move things around

Shake things up by playing with a new layout for the room. Center a new double bed under the window flanked by funky nightstands (and make sure they don't match — it's more fun that way!). Swap out the desk that matches your tween's dresser and put in a large floating one instead along a different wall. If the closet is big enough, fill half of it with shelving and ditch the dresser, leaving more room to set up a lounge area for friends to hang out in.


Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &


      This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

50 Shades of Selling: Use Color Psychology to Market Your Home



From seeing red to feeling blue, color plays a big role in our emotions. Some colors make us feel happy or relaxed, while others can make us feel anxious. When you’re selling your home, the colors you choose can play on potential buyers' memories and emotions, changing the way they see your home.
Choose wisely, and the next color you might see is green.

We associate yellow with happiness and light, making it the ideal shade to make windowless spaces such as hallways feel sunny, or to create the feeling of joy in family-gathering areas such as the kitchen. But choose the shade with caution.
Yellow is such a statement color. People either love yellow or they hate it. If you want to use it in your home, I’d stick to soft yellow shades in a warm buttery base.
Blue’s different hues can conjure up a range of emotions. Light hues create a feel of tranquility.
Spa blues are reminiscent of the ocean and water in general, which are both relaxing and peaceful.
Separated dining rooms are the perfect place to try out a deep navy or dark gray, because they are supposed to feel cozy and inviting instead of open and expansive.
Green is commonly associated with nature, so it naturally gives off a soothing and calm vibe.
That vibe makes green a perfect complement to almost any room in your house. For example, paler greens like sea foam or sage have a calming effect best suited to bathrooms, while darker, earthy shades of green such as moss or evergreen create a sense of quiet and peace––perfect for a cozy den space.
Gray is much more than a neutral color. Most shades pair well with other colors, making this an ideal choice for connecting spaces such as hallways and entryways. But the right shade of gray can play on some powerful emotions. Light hues have a softness, making us feel calm and relaxed, while darker hues feel warm. Selecting the right hue isn't always an easy choice, though.
Gray is a tricky, tricky color. There are so many different hues of gray that if you’re not careful you can end up with an icy cold room instead of a warm retreat.
The key is choosing a gray with the right base color. For example, a beige-based gray will create warmth, while a blue-based shade will have more of a cooling, icy effect.
At first glance, brown might not seem like the most exciting––or inviting––color, but brown hues are also part of the palette of colors we associate with nature's calming effects. Richer hues create a sense of coziness and quiet, making them perfect for a den or entertainment space where potential buyers could imagine spending time with their family. Lighter shades such as beige are quite and calming, perfect for a formal living room, study, and hallways.
What not to use
Not all colors will create the positive emotions you want buyers to feel.
I usually suggest to clients to avoid oranges and reds in any type of space. They make people feel anxious and angry.
Instead, focus on creating a neutral palette that buyers will associate with "homey" feelings.


Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &


      This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

5 Financial Benefits Only Available for Homeowners


There are many financial incentives available to homeowners not available to renters

Sure, renting has its perks, but did you know there are some great financial incentives only available to homeowners? If you currently own or are thinking about buying, make sure you take full advantage of these.

1. Possible Tax Breaks and Benefits are Attractive Incentives

Everyone loves a tax break! Although most tax benefit programs are specific to each province, there is a National Program called the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC). The purpose of the HBTC is to give you back a small portion of the purchase price considering that one of the biggest challenges for first-time home buyers is the down payment. This tax credit can give you a non-refundable $5,000 when you file your tax return the year after you purchase. This translates to roughly $750 extra in your pocket. Great for those new home expenses that may pop up.
Provincially, there are many different tax breaks and benefit programs available across the country. Exclusive to British Columbia, for example, is the First Time Home Buyers’ Program. It exempts first-time home buyers from the property transfer tax by reducing or eliminating the amount of tax paid. There are certain stipulations so make sure you check the qualification criteria
BC has some of the most expensive real estate in the country, and with that comes some of the steepest property taxes. With the Home Owner Grant, you may be eligible to reduce property taxes on an annual basis with the amount of  tax relief dependant on where you live. For example, if you are living in Vancouver you might be eligible for a $570 grant, whereas outside of the Capital Regional District, Greater Vancouver, or the Fraser Valley District, you may be eligible for a grant of $770.
BC also has a tax incentive for home buyers who are not first-time home buyers necessarily but are purchasing a newly built home. The Newly Built Home Exemption helps lower or eliminate the property transfer tax you are required to pay. This exemption applies to newly built homes only and can save you up to $13,000 in tax exemptions. 
Similarly, Ontario offers a refund on all or part of your land transfer tax. But you need to be an eligible first-time home buyer. This program can save you up to $4,000 in taxes. Prince Edward has a program as well with a maximum of $2,000 refund.

2. How Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Helps with Home Ownership

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a Crown Corporation of the Government of Canada. It exists to help make housing affordable to everyone in Canada and has developed several programs to help homeowners and first-time home buyers find more affordable options.
The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive Plan offers five to 10 per cent of the homes’ purchase price to put toward a down payment. These additional funds added to your down payment help lower your mortgage carrying cost.
The Government of Canada, essentially, partners with you in a Shared Equity Mortgage, taking a share of the increase or decrease in your property’s market value. There are specific criteria to qualify. 

3. Home Buyers Plan Helps You Leverage RRSP Investment

Another great Federal Program is the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP), which allows you to use a $35,000 Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) withdrawal to put towards your new home purchase. It is specifically designed to assist first-time home buyers in saving funds to purchase a home.
Normally, when you withdraw funds from your RRSP, you’re taxed on those funds. Under the HBP, you can withdraw up to the $35,000 amount in a single calendar year to put towards a down payment of your first home. 

4. GST/HST New Housing Rebate Can Put Money Back in Your Wallet

It’s true! By buying a home you may qualify for a rebate on part of the GST or HST you paid on the purchase or cost of building your new home. In addition, you could save on the cost of substantially renovating or building a major addition onto your existing home, or on converting non-residential property into a house. There are multiple rebates you can claim, and the value of this rebate will vary based on which category your home purchase falls. Your accountant or tax office and point you in the right direction on this one. 

5. Building Equity and Credit Gives Financial Benefits

Beyond the provincial and federal programs available, another key financial benefit to buying a home is to build equity. Not only will you own “more” of your home (a.k.a. equity), you also build a line of credit. This is a significant asset you can use for almost anything. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is essentially a secured form of credit. The lender uses your home as a guarantee that you'll pay back the money you borrow. You can borrow money, pay it back, and borrow it again, usually up to a maximum credit limit. 
If you have been renting because home ownership seemed out of reach, look at the requirements to qualify for these programs. You may be surprised at what you can save as a homeowner!


Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &


Monday, 10 February 2020

How to Save for a Down Payment: 7 Tips


Home ownership is closer than you think

We understand, saving for a down payment for your first home can seem overwhelming. You may wonder how you are ever going to transition from being a renter to a homeowner when all your money is going towards someone else’s mortgage. But there’s no need for despair. There are many things you can start doing today that will help you save for tomorrow’s home purchase.
You should first look at how much you are going to need. Knowing your goal upfront will save you from disappointment later.

How Much Should You Really Have for a Down Payment for a Home?

ICanada, the minimum amount you will need for your down payment depends on the purchase price of the home you want to buy. 
  • For amounts under $500,000, you will need five per cent down. 
  • For amounts between $500,000 and $999,999, you will need five per cent for the first $500,000 and 10 per cent for the portion between $500,000 and $999,999. 
  • If the home is more than $1 million, you will need 20 per cent of the purchase price. 

What if You Don’t Have the Minimum Requirement for a Down Payment? 

No need to worry. You may qualify for a High Ratio Mortgage which will allow you to borrow up to 95 per cent of the cost of the home. Because this is considered a higher risk loan, you will need to purchase mortgage insurance and without the minimum down payment, you may be left with less options on interest rates and terms. 
As you know, the amount of money you put forward as a down payment is subtracted from the total price of the home so the more the better in reducing your monthly payments. Map out how long it is going to take you to save the required amount. It is common for it to take two to three years. Keep this in mind before you start your search.
When looking for how much you will need, you will undoubtedly discover what you can afford. Setting your down payment goal goes with what you can afford. Most experts agree you should stick with less than 25 per cent of your monthly take-home pay – including the mortgage payment, private mortgage insurance, possible Homeowners Association (HOA), property taxes and home-owners insurance.
Keep in mind, you may need additional mortgage insurance if the bank feels your down payment is too low or you may find making payments challenging. In other words, the more you can put down, the better.

With Your End Goal in Mind, Let’s Look at Some Creative Ways to Save

1.  Pay-off High-Interest Loans and Credit Cards

Entering the home buying arena will be less stressful if you don’t have a pile of debt hanging over you. Debt will influence what you can afford and how quickly you can get into your own home. Take the extra time and get out of debt. While you are at it, have a small emergency fund set aside too. Once done, you are ready to start putting funds towards your down payment.

2.  Automatic Transfer of Funds Equals Automatic Savings

Having a budgeted amount withdrawn automatically from your pay check and redirected to your savings will be a great step. You will get used to this lower pay and adjust spending accordingly. Before you know it, you will have substantial funds in your savings account.

3.  Find an Income Booster

Consider taking on a part-time job or side hustle. Turn a hobby into some extra income. Perhaps dog walking on the weekends or becoming a weekend referee is within your realm of interests. Regardless, choose something you enjoy, and it won’t feel like extra work. Remember to put this extra income into your savings.

4.  Move to a More Modest Rental and Cut Expenses

Look at your current expenses, develop a realistic budget, and then start living within those means. You might have to look for a less expensive rental property until you are ready to buy or reduce the number of dinners out. You will be surprised at how those little expenditures add up. Remember to take the extra money you are saving and redirect it to your savings account. Otherwise, it will disappear on morning drive-thru coffees.
Download a budget tracker app to help you stay on track. and everydollar are great choices, but there are many out there to suit every style.

5.  Have a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

When you put money away in a savings account you are taxed on the interest generated on that money. With a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), the funds are not deductible for income tax purposes. Any amount contributed as well as any income earned in the account is generally tax-free, even when withdrawn.
TFSAs are also a way to keep your savings out of reach. The money will be kept separate from your regular savings and you can set it up so automatic withdrawals are made from your primary bank account. Your money gets set aside before you have a chance to spend it. It’s also motivating to see your TFSA balance growing!
Be cautious when depositing savings in Money Markets if you are buying a home within a short period of time. Money Markets funds are great for having access to your money quickly, but the value fluctuates and you may not be able to wait for the market to rebound.

6.  Borrow from Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

In March 2019, the amount you can withdraw from your RRSP for a down payment without being taxed increased to $35,000. Keep in mind, this money must be repaid within 15 years or you will need to pay income tax on it.
It is a great way to get your hands-on significant down payment funds quickly.

7.  First-Time Home Buyers Program

Another great option to consider is the First-Time Home Buyers Program. This incentive makes it easier for you to buy a home and lowers your monthly mortgage payment. This program is a shared equity mortgage. Meaning, you are sharing the ups and downs of your property value with the government. The program offers five to 10 per cent of the homes’ purchase price to put toward a down payment. These additional funds will help you lower your mortgage carrying cost. You pay back the same percentage of the value of your home when you sell it or within a 25-year window, whichever comes first.  
In addition to the federal FTHB program, check out similar programs in your city. Often, cities will offer additional incentives to first-time home buyers. Sometimes it is to revitalize or redevelop a neighbourhood that has become less popular over time. These programs usually have very specific requirements so check out city hall to see if they are the right fit for you. 
Decide what you can afford, determine your budget, start saving, and look to provincial and federal programs that exist for the purpose of helping first-time home buyers save for their down payment. With these things in mind, you will be well on your way to drinking your morning coffee in your own home!


Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &


Friday, 7 February 2020

Best Household Tips Ever!

Vancouver Realtor Carmen Leal

1. Sparkling appliances

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Restore the shimmer to your brushed stainless steel appliances by rubbing on some baby oil with a square of folded paper towel. Smudges, food and fingerprints will disappear in an instant. Note: this method works for brushed stainless steel only.

2. Fresh chopping boards

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Get rid of that ‘old food’ smell from your chopping boards by rubbing with half cut of  lemon, salt and olive oil over the surface. Allow the chopping board to stand for 20-30 minutes and then rinse under cool running water for a citrus-fresh perfume.

3. Perfect fruit and veg

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Store your fruit by lining your fridge drawers with bubble wrap; this will stop your fresh produce from bruising and at the end of the week there will be no wasted food. For the veggie drawer, crumbled newspapers will keep veggies crisp.

4. Smelly drains fix

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
A stinky drain can make your whole kitchen smell like a garbage dump! To neutralise the odour, first make a watery baking soda paste to put down the drain - the baking soda will break down any food scraps that are hanging onto your pipes. Leave it there for about an hour and then mix a jug of hot water with 3-4 teaspoons of vanilla essence. Throw that down the sink and you’ll have a sweet-smelling kitchen just like that!

5. Fresh fridge

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Use vinegar to wipe the inside of the refrigerator to help prevent mildew (acid kills mildew fungus). To keep your fridge smelling fresh, keep a box of baking soda, a can filled with charcoal or dried coffee grounds or a cotton ball soaked in vanilla extract inside of it.

Kids tips:

1. Medicine safety

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Teach the kids about the dangers of medicines by drawing a big red cross on all pills and potions that can be dangerous in the wrong (little) hands. That way the kids will be able get to the bandaids with ease, and steer clear of bottles and boxes marked with a big red ‘X’.

2. No more inky-hands

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Living with a pint-sized artist can be messy! Remove ink from skin by smearing the area with a small amount of margarine and wiping off with a damp cloth. Now you see it, now you don’t!

3. Chore lottery

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Draw a weekly chore lottery for the whole family every Sunday night. Write down all the weekly chores on separate pieces of paper and place them all in a hat, on one piece write “day off". Then draw the chores out for each person and stick them to the fridge! This way, mum won’t be left with all the boring jobs and one lucky family member will get a day off – who will it be?

Cleaning tips:

1. Chewing-gum removal

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
There’s nothing worse than chewing gum stuck to the back of your pants. For a surprisingly quick and easy remedy, pop the garment into the freezer for a couple of hours. Once the chewing gum has frozen you will be able to pick it off with your fingers or chisel it off with the back of a teaspoon.

2. Dust-free TV

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
When dusting your television or Venetian blinds, use a soft cloth that has been dampened with fabric softener - this will reduce the static that attracts dust.

3. Goodbye blood stains

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Soak blood-stained clothing in cold salty water for at least an hour, and then wash as normal in warm water. The clothes will look (and smell) as good as new before you know it!

4. No ring around the collar

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Try using your shampoo to remove ring around the collar. Since the ring is usually caused by oil, dirt and grime that gathers around the neck, shampoo - which is made to remove body oils - should remove it from clothign too. Just apply the shampoo, gently scrub, then stick it in the washing machine.

Outdoor tips:

1. Home-made pesticides

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
If common garden bugs are destroying your vegetable patch, try a home-made concoction of diced garlic, onion and water. Allow the mixture to stand overnight, then pour into a pistol-grip spray bottle and give your vege garden a good drenching!

2. Easy weed killer

Vancouver Realtor-Carmen Leal
Kill weeds fast with a jug of boiling water mixed with a few tablespoons of salt. This is a great way to eradicate pesky weeds from between the pavers, without wrecking your back or your fingernails!

Indoor tips:

1. Mould attack

Getting rid of mould from hard surfaces is easy if you know how. First, clean the area well with a solution of 4 litres of hot water, 1 tablespoon of bicarb and half a cup of vinegar. Once the area is clean, mix a quarter of a teaspoon of clove oil with 1 litre of water. Put the solution into a pistol spray bottle and mist it onto the surface. Within 48 hours the mould spores will have died.

2. Pet food protection

Keep ants away from your dog or cat’s food, by placing the bowl in a tray of water. Any ant bold enough to attempt the swim will quickly drown.

3. Greasy carpet

Hard-to-remove grease stains on your carpet can be shifted by sprinkling cornmeal or baking soda onto the stain, and then brushing lightly through the carpet pile. Leave overnight and vacuum up the next morning. This process may need to be repeated once or twice.

4. Moth-away

Protect your clothes from moths by placing sachets of dried lavender throughout your closet and in your dresser drawers. You can also soak some cotton-wool balls in lavender oil and dot them around your wardrobe.

5. Eliminate cockroaches

Putting crushed bay leaves under the kitchen sink or at the bottom of doors and windows is a great way to deter cockroaches – apparently they hate the stuff! Alternatively mop the kitchen and bathroom floors with a homemade bay leaf and water solution!


Are you interested in selling or buying your home in the next few months? Work with award winning realtor, Carmen Leal and her team that specialize in Real Estate Vancouver and have qualified Buyers that are looking for a home in your area!   604.218.4846 &


      This communication is not intended to induce breach of existing listing agreement.