Steven Burrows
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Articles Relating to Real Estate, Your Home and Home Buying & Selling


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* Market Watch 2011

* First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit - Mortgages

* Can You Benefit From a New On-Demand Tankless Water Heater?
The technology used to heat water is traditional and highly inefficient when compared to the tankless or on-demand technologies...

* Warm up to Energy Savings
5 Steps to Prepare for your Energy Advisor Assessment.

* Role Model
You may not have a builders budget, but that doesn't mean you can't apply the same strategies used in model homes to sell your own property. Read on to learn how.

*A Matter Of Principle
If you think a well-designed room just happens, think again. As professional interiors designers well know, any successful decor is dependent on the five principles of design: balance, focal points, proportion and scale, rhythm, and unity. Below is an introduction to each.

There's no guarantee how long it'll take to process your mortgage application, but there are things you can do to help ensure a smoother, quicker process.


Market Watch - 2011 Canadian Real Estate Market Forecast and Prediction  

Steven Burrows
 905-901-4714  905-901-4714

According to many real estate experts, the Canadian housing market is expected to stabilize in 2011 returning to more normal long-term growth patterns after a decade-long bull run.

The housing sector has avoided two extreme bubble-and-crash scenarios over the past three years when resale prices dropped sharply in 2008, then quickly rebounded as low mortgage rates and lower prices supported the turnaround.

Record low interest rates fuelled a home buying spree in 2009 that helped pull the Canadian economy out of recession and pushed home sales back to record levels. The market cooled rapidly over the summer of 2010 as the Bank of Canada began hiking interest rates, though recent data have indicated the market may be stabilizing.

In 2011, interest rates are expected to hike further as the economy improves. While still at historical lows, any hike in interest rates have big effects on mortgage rates. If interest rates are raised too quickly, this will further dampen real estate prices. On the other hand, if the government decides to lower the rates once again, as unlikely as this may seem, then home sales might surge slightly.

Government and institutional lending policies will also affect real estate prices. As banks and governmental policies become increasingly strict, more people will be turned down for mortgages. At the very least these potential home buyers will need to choose from more modest homes if their mortgage is declined.

In 2011, Canada will experience an overall decline of 0.9% in home prices. Not all provinces will feel the effects of fluctuating real estate prices equally. Some provinces will have a more profound move in housing prices than others.

While real estate prices might remain fairly stable, buying activity is expected to slow down significantly. The Canadian Real Estate Association expects a 7.3% decline in home sales. This means that homeowners in a panic to sell may have to drop their prices substantially in order to liquidate. Others may need to wait longer than in previous years to sell.

The drop-off in home sales comes from an anticipated slowing of economic growth along with a reduction in consumer spending. Less free floating capital means fewer large purchases.  Ample inventory levels, steady demand, and moderate growth, both in terms of sales and prices, will characterize the market in 2011.

Is it a Good Time to Buy a Home in Canada?
Timing the market perfectly is a difficult task. Often it is easier to look at one’s income and decide if the stability of personal finances are adequate to acquire a house for the long term. If not, there is no shame in renting or leasing until circumstances permit such a purchase. But trying to perfectly time a house purchase with the market is like trying to buy a stock at its lowest point before a rebound – very difficult indeed.





First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit

Proposed in Federal Budget 2009

Action to Stimulate Housing Construction

The Government is providing $7.8 billion to build quality housing, stimulate construction, encourage home ownership and enhance energy efficiency. Measures include a Home Renovation Tax Credit providing up to $1,350 in tax relief to an estimated 4.6 million Canadian families, up to $750 in tax relief for first-time home buyers, funding for energy retrofits, investments for social housing to support low-income Canadians, seniors, persons with disabilities and Aboriginal Canadians, and low-cost loans to municipalities.

Budget 2009 proposes to introduce a new non-refundable tax credit based on an amount of $5,000 for first-time home buyers who acquire a qualifying home after January 27, 2009 (i.e. the closing is after that date). The credit for a taxation year will be calculated by reference to the lowest personal income tax rate for the year and is claimable for the taxation year in which the home is acquired.

An individual will be considered a first-time home buyer if neither the individual nor the individual’s spouse or common-law partner owned and lived in another home in the calendar year of the home purchase or in any of the four preceding calendar years. A qualifying home is one that is currently eligible for the Home Buyers’ Plan that the individual or individual’s spouse or common-law partner intends to occupy as the principal place of residence not later than one year after its acquisition.

Budget 2009 also proposes that the credit be available for certain acquisitions of a home by or for the benefit of an individual who is eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC). In particular, the credit will be available in respect of a home acquired after January 27, 2009 (i.e. the closing is after that date) by an individual who is eligible for the DTC, or by an individual for the benefit of a related individual who is DTC-eligible, if the home is acquired to enable the DTC-eligible individual to live in a more accessible dwelling or in an environment better suited to the personal needs and care of that person.

For the purpose of this credit, a "DTC–eligible" individual is an individual in respect of whom an amount is deductible under the DTC for the taxation year in which the agreement to acquire the home is entered into, or would be deductible if costs for an attendant or care in a nursing home were not claimed for Medical Expense Tax Credit purposes by or on behalf of that person. Where the home is acquired by or for the benefit of a DTC-eligible individual, the home must be intended to be the principal place of residence of that individual no later than one year after its acquisition.

The credit may be claimed by the individual who acquires the home or by that individual’s spouse or common-law partner. For the purpose of this credit, a home is considered to be acquired by an individual only if the individual’s interest in the home is registered in accordance with the applicable land registration system.

Any unused portion of an individual’s First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit may be claimed by the individual’s spouse or common-law partner. Where more than one individual is entitled to the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (for example, where two individuals jointly buy a home), the total amount of the credits claimable for the year by those individuals shall not exceed the maximum amount of the credit that would be claimable for the year by any one of those individuals.

For more information, visit or if you wish, contact me.

Steven Burrows
 905-901-4714  905-901-4714

Sales Representative

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 Small PicCan You Benefit From a New On-Demand Tankless Water Heater?

  Hot water usage in Canadian households consumes between 15 and 30% of a home’s energy demand. Surprisingly, the technology used to heat water is traditional and highly inefficient when compared to the tankless or on-demand technologies now used regularly in Europe and Asia. Traditional water heaters used by most Canadian homeowners store heated water in a hot water storage tank. As hot water is used up from the storage tank, it gets replaced by incoming cold water, lowering the temperature of the stored water. An electric heating element or gas burner is activated by a thermostat to slowly reheat the water in the storage tank to a specified temperature. The storage tank stores the hot water ready for use and automatically keeps the water hot as the water gets used, or as it cools down through natural heat loss.

On contrast, an on-demand tankless unit has a heating device that is activated by the flow of water. When a hot water faucet is turned on and the water begins to flow, a sensor detects the flow and the heating elements turn on instantly to delivers a constant supply of hot water. The tankless water heater will remain on until the hot water faucet is turned off. As soon as the flow sensor detects that water has stopped flowing, the power to the unit is turned off completely.

There are numerous advantages to using a tankless water heating system, including the following key highlights:

Reduces water heating costs as much as 50%! Tankless water heaters heat entirely on demand, so when hot water is not being demanded, absolutely no energy is being consumed and the stand-by heating loss is completely eliminated.

Unlimited hot water. Tankless heaters never run out of hot water. They can literally run all day long if necessary and they will never stop producing hot water since they heat water instantly on demand—no more cold showers!

Reduces the risk of scalding. Sophisticated tankless heaters allow you to set the ongoing water temperature to a much more reasonable and safer temperature, closer to the actual temperature you will use the water at, thereby reducing the risk of scalding.

More reliable. Since hot water is not stored, tankless water heaters generally handle hard water minerals and sediments much better than conventional tanks. This makes them far less likely to develop corrosive leaks causing expensive water damage in your home. If properly maintained, an on-demand water heater will keep its efficiency throughout the entire lifetime of the unit—up to 20 years with normal maintenance!

Saves space. Tankless water heaters are about the size of a briefcase (electric units). They save valuable floor space that can be used for storage, etc., especially in condos and apartments. The only requirement is that the heater must be installed at least 3 ft. away from a door, window, or vent.

Other points to consider when selecting a tankless water heater
You should keep in mind that a tankless water heating system will cost more to install than a traditional hot water tank—initially. However, the significant energy savings, fewer repair calls, and the ultimate convenience of having unlimited hot water at your fingertips more than makes up for this cost over the long run.

Determining the correct sizing for an on-demand water heater is crucial and to do so correctly, the peak hot water demand the unit will need to accommodate must be established. On-demand water heaters are rated according to the number of gallons of water per minute that can be raised to the desired temperature.

Also, the volume of hot water that an on-demand heater can deliver is directly correlated to its gas or electricity input. Therefore, if there are several appliances already running on natural gas or electricity, your house supply source my need to be upgraded to handle the increased demand on power. This could affect the cost and set up time of your new tankless water heater.

Comparing the old technology with the new, one thing is clear: a tankless water heater will be cheaper over the long run than a conventional water heater. If a homeowner has a choice between the two, gas or electric, in most cases the tankless gas water heater will be cheaper in the long run than an electric.

 Steven Burrows
 905-901-4714  905-901-4714

Sales Representative

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Warm Up to Energy Savings!:
Interested in making your home an energy saver, and getting paid to do it? The Canadian government has a program you'll want to hear about.

Last year, the Canadian government launched the ecoENERGY Retrofit program. It provides tax-free cash incentives to Canadian homeowners who commit to making their home more eco-friendly and energy efficient. The money is granted at a flat rate determined by the government for each individual upgrade you perform on your house.

The grant money is only the first part of your windfall though. The average homeowner with a $2000.00/year heating bill can expect to reduce that annual bill by up to $700.00 as a result of the energy savings alone!

The process is very simple. There is a network of licensed energy advisors across the country; call to set up n assessment. Following the assessment, your advisor will instruct you on how to go about making the necessary improvements and will give you an idea of what size grant you are eligible for. The advisor will be your liaison with the government and will complete the application process for you.

5 Steps to Prepare for your Energy Advisor Assessment

Make your energy evaluation safe, quick and easy by following these five steps:

1. Ensure the advisor has access to your attic, crawl space or other hard-to-reach areas.

2. Ensure a responsible person able to make household decisions is present.

3. Make sure you have proof of any recent upgrades to the house to help the advisor understand the homes history.

4. Prepare a list of any drafts, cold spots, or energy related "leaks" in the home.

5. Be as cooperative as possible...Together, you and the advisor can create a retrofit strategy that may save you thousands of dollars.

Of course, if you're more interested in relocating than renovating, please call me for the latest real estate news in your area.

Steven Burrows
 905-901-4714  905-901-4714

Sales Representative

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Role Model
You may not have a builders budget, but that doesn't mean you can't apply the same strategies used in model homes to sell your own property. Read on to learn how.

ZAP CLUTTER. If you've ever toured a model home,  you likely remember nothing was out of place or looked like it didn't belong. This is because builders want buyers to focus on the home itself, not what's inside. You should adopt a similar zero-tolerance policy on clutter. Consider asking a friend to help you spot your home's problem areas.

NEUTRALIZE. A model homes decor never offends; its colors are muted and patterns subdued to appeal to the greatest number of buyers. You should likewise strive for universal appeal: repaint bold walls with soft, light tones; strip loud wallpaper. If you have a room with a theme - be it Elvis or equine - get rid of it.

DEPERSONALIZE. You never see family photos, trophies, or other personal items in model homes, do you? "Of course not," you're probably thinking. "No one lives there." But what model-home stagers know - and what you should remember when preparing your home for viewing - is that buyers want to see their lives, not yours, when viewing your property.

LIGHTEN UP. Model-home stagers pay a lot of attention to lighting design, which is important as it serves to highlight a home's architecture and make ir appear larger. So keep your window coverings open to maximize natural light. Make sure all your fixtures are turned on and consider switching your bulbs for some with greater wattage.

Steven Burrows
 905-901-4714  905-901-4714

Sales Representative

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A Matter Of Principle
If you think a well-designed room just happens, think again. As professional interiors designers well know, any successful decor is dependent on the five principles of design: balance, focal points, proportion and scale, rhythm, and unity. Below is an introduction to each.

Balance refers to the distribution of visual weight in a room. There are three different types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial. Symmetrical balance involves repeating the same objects on either side of an axis, a hallmark of formal interiors. Asymmetrical balance is characterized by a lack of focal point or mirroring, and lends rooms a more casual feel. Radial balance refers to arrangements where elements radiate around a focal point.

Every well-designed room features a focal point, a point of emphasis that draws the eye and gives it a place to rest. That point of emphasis could be a work of art, a piece of furniture, or an architectural detail such as a fireplace or window. Whatever it is, your focal point should be immediately apparent upon entering the room. Depending on its size, a well designed room can incorporate more than one focal point; in fact, large spaces may need multiple points of emphasis.

This is to the shape and size of objects. Proportion has to do with how the elements in a room relate to the room as a whole, while scale refers to how the elements in a room relate to one another in terms of size. For instance, small delicate pieces of furniture in a large room would make for an ill-proportioned interior, while a heavy lamp on a small end table would be out of scale. Ideally, all the elements in a room should be proportionate to each other as well to the room itself.

Rhythm refers to how the eye moves about the room. There are four ways to use rhythm in decor: repetition, progression, transition and contrast. Repetition involves repeating the same element - be it a pattern, color or line - throughout the space. Progression means increasing or decreasing one or more of an element's qualities, like its color or size. Contrast results from combining opposing elements, such as black pillows on a white couch. Transition is less obvious, and serves naturally to lead the eye from one area to another, such as through an arched entry.

An interior has unity when all of the elements and principles of interior design combine to create a pleasing area and lend spaces a sense of order. In addition to establishing unity within each room of your home, your home should be well designed as a whole, its rooms, halls and stairways all part of one larger space. However, too much unity is bland, while too little is disorienting. Striking just the right balance is tricky, which is why so many call in a professional.

Steven Burrows
 905-901-4714  905-901-4714

Sales Representative

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First, be sure of your credit worthiness: request a copy of your credit report. It will likely be blemish-free, but never discount the possibility that it could conatin errors: closed charge accounts may show up as available credit, repaid loans could appear outstanding, or you may discover you've been a victim of identity theft. Address any mistakes now so they don't slow or altogether stop your application process later.

Next, gather documents to support the claims you'll be making on your application. Include things like listing and purchase agreements, home appraisals, credit reports, pay stubs, income-tax returns, letters from employers, bank statements, list of assets and liabilities, and proof of income from sources like rental properties, pensions, alimony, or child support. The more information you provide, the faster the lender can make a decision.

When filling out your loan application, do so honestly and accurately. Make sure all information is correct and legible and no questions have been missed.

Once you've filed your application, make sure you can be easily reached should your lender require any further information or paperwork from you - and be able to respond quickly to such needs. Now is probably not the time to go on vacation.

Lastly, check in - occasionally - with your lender to see how your approval is coming along. This will also lessen its chances of getting lost in the shuffle.

While many homebuyers wait until they find the perfect property before applying for a mortgage, you may want to consider having a pre-approved mortgage in hand before even starting your new home search. This gives you the best idea of what you can afford, and also gives you the edge when negotiating with a seller who is looking for a swift closing.

Steven Burrows
 905-901-4714  905-901-4714

Sales Representative

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The Canadian housing market continues its healthy upward trend across the country, with significant increase in both number of sales and sale value. This trend is expected to continue through to early Spring as we approach the  upcoming changes to mortgage qualification rules.

Buyers in Ontario and British Columbia  are aware of two key changes that could impact their purchasing ability. The new mortgage rules coming in April, plus the Harmonized Sales Tax in July.

“The upcoming changes to mortgage qualification rules and impending mortgage rate increases may prompt some buyers to enter the market earlier and cause some additional slowdown in the third quarter,” said Larry Westergard, president of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.

Below is a brief summary of sales activities in some areas across the country:

Ontario - A Great Start to 2010 for Ontario Housing Market

Toronto, March 3, 2010 -  Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 7,291 sales through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February, representing a 77% increase over February 2009. The average price for these transactions was up 19% year-over-year to $431,509. Sales and average price increases represent both increased demand for ownership housing and the base year effect, which involves a comparison of economic recovery this year to a period of economic decline last year.

“Increases in existing home sales and average price were noted across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in low-rise and high-rise home types. Similar rates of growth were experienced in the City of Toronto and surrounding 905 regions,” said Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) President Tom Lebour. “This suggests that first time, move-up and down sizing buyers are all active in the existing home marketplace.”

New listings also increased in February, climbing 24% compared to the same month last year.

“Annual growth in new listings is expected to continue. New listings growth will start to outstrip sales growth as we move through 2010,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. “As the market becomes better supplied, we will see more sustainable single-digit rates of price growth.”

Ottawa, March 5, 2010 - Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,118 residential properties in February through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® system compared with 787 in February 2009, an increase of 42.1%.

Of those sales, 323 were in the condominium property class, while 795 were in the residential property class.

“Last month’s sales were near the top of the usual range for this time of year, as opposed to February of 2009, which was the end of the brief slowdown we saw in Ottawa’s resale housing market due to global economic conditions,” said Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) President Pierre de Varennes. “So far in 2010, OREB Members have sold 1,838 properties, putting us well ahead of the 1,316 properties sold in the first two months of 2009. Inventory remains low and the homes that are listed are selling quickly, keeping Ottawa in a seller’s market for the moment,” he added.

The average sale price of residential properties, including condominiums, sold in February in the Ottawa area was $317,030, an increase of 15.8% over February 2009. The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $265,938, an increase of 30.3% over February 2009. The average sale price of a residential-class property was $337,788, an increase of 15.6% over February 2009.

British Columbia – Stronger than expected Fraser Valley home sales during Olympics 

Surrey, March 2, 2010 – Not even the most engaging Olympics in Canadian history could completely slow the appetite for house hunting, according to the most recent statistics from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

The Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) recorded 1,204 sales in February, an increase of 23% over January’s sales and an increase of 77% over the 682 sales during February of last year.

Deanna Horn, president of the Board explains, “Although the phones were quieter and we did experience less traffic at open houses, we were surprisingly busy given how much everyone, including REALTORS® were enjoying the Games.”

“Buyers are aware of two key changes that could impact their purchasing ability. The new mortgage rules coming in April, plus the Harmonized Sales Tax in July, so the ‘Olympic effect’ we were expecting wasn’t as deep.”

The Board’s MLS® received 2,879 new listings in February, an average of 144 per business day, providing buyers with 14% more selection than they had the previous month. The number of active listings in February was 8,485, 12% fewer than were available during February last year.

Horn adds that the combined strength of listings and sales currently is stabilizing Fraser Valley home prices. “Overall, we’ve seen modest price gains for the last three months. The benchmark price for all residential types combined increased less than 1% from January to February.

“When you have a healthy level of inventory, it puts less upward pressure on prices and creates a stable, balanced market.”

In February, the benchmark price for Fraser Valley detached homes was $508,136, an increase of 11.3% from the February 2009 price of $456,683.

The benchmark price of Fraser Valley townhouses in February was $324,708, a 9.8% increase compared to $295,731 in February 2009. The benchmark price of apartments increased by 7.8% year-over-year going from $228,091 in February 2009 to $245,879 in February 2010.

Alberta - Stability in Edmonton Housing Market continues through February

Edmonton, March 2, 2010 -  Prices for residential property sold through the Edmonton Multiple Listing Service® changed marginally through February. Sales activity, however, was up dramatically when compared to last month or the same month last year.
The average single family dwelling price was $369,573 for February up just 1.4% from January; 5.6% from a year ago. Condominium prices dipped 3.8% in the month from $240,686 to $231,530. Duplex and rowhouse prices were up 3.3% to $315,390.

“While prices remained stable through February the increase in sales activity indicates that there is a demand for housing in the Edmonton area,” said Larry Westergard, president of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. “Listings also increased in February leading to a bigger month end inventory of homes and relaxing concerns that inventory may be too low to handle the spring buying season.”

In February, housing sales were up 33.9% compared to January with 1,184 residential sales. Total residential sales were also up 7.6% from last February. There were 2,505 residential listings added during the month resulting in a 47% sales-to-listing ratio and a month-end inventory of 5,449 homes. The average days-on-market was down 10 to just 47 days.

Total sales through the Edmonton MLS® System (including residential, commercial and rural properties) in February were valued at $416 million (up 10.5% from last year).

Information in this report is collected from the Real Estate Boards operating in each area. The average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. The average price is calculated based on the total dollar volume of all properties sold. 


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