Buying a house is one of the biggest investment decisions you will make, so it’s really important that you make an informed decision. Failure to do so could be disastrous on many counts, financially, emotionally and (because all these things are connected) for your health and well-being!

That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Imagine what would happen if you fell in love with a cute little cottage on the bank of a beautiful river, bought it, and then discovered it was downstream from a poorly run manufacturing plant that was spewing toxins into the river, or a neglected hydroelectric facility (dam!) that was on the verge of collapsing! Either of these scenarios could certainly affect your health, couldn’t they?a

These are extreme situations that most people could manage to avoid, but they serve to illustrate the fact that a poor real estate purchase could have dire consequences, so it pays to do whatever you can to make sure you are buying the right house for you and your family.

Right now you are enticed by very low mortgage rates, home buying incentive programs and (depending on where you are) a plethora of housing choices, making home ownership possible for many. It might be the right time for you to buy, if you have some money for a down payment, a reasonably secure income and the desire for your own place.

First time buyers should consider enlisting the help of a buyers agent, someone who can guide you through the process of choosing and purchasing a house that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Make a list of features that you require, and those that you would like but aren’t absolutely necessary. Think about things like:

  • Proximity to work (or to transit that you can take to work);
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms you need;
  • Whether you are okay with a two-story home or require a stair-free house, and
  • Access to recreational facilities and shopping

Make another list of ‘deal-breakers’, things that are unacceptable for your family. Being right on a main thoroughfare might be one, especially if you have young children or Houdini-like pets who like to escape and explore the neighborhood. Maybe you don’t want to live right next door to a popular nightclub that features live music every weekend (but then again, maybe you do). The main point is that you need to establish your own parameters to find the right property for you and those who share your life.

An experienced realtor will be able to show you current MLS listings as well as new listings, perhaps before they have been exposed to the general public. He (or she) might also know of properties where the owners have let the listing lapse but are still interested in selling to the right buyer (maybe you!). Your agent can also warn you of impending changes in the neighborhoods you might be interested in or situations that you are unaware of that could affect … Read More


Getting up the nerve to begin your home improvement project can be exasperating to say the least. One moment you’re gung-ho and ready to tackle the  next minute you’re almost suffering from anxiety attacks.

But you shouldn’t allow these roller coaster feelings to continue to prevent you from doing what you really want to do. And besides, after almost a quarter of a century as a home improvement contractor, I sometimes still get these same feelings.

It remind me of the butterflies I would get just before kick-off, when I was playing football back in the day. So, if you are having uneasy feelings and doubting yourself, just put your foot down and make a commitment to start the job immediately and do it. Don’t get caught up worrying about making mistakes because mistakes are really nothing more than growing pains. That’s right. We all are human and we all make mistakes, but you can profit from your mistakes and turn those bloopers into building blocks.

Never give up on yourself before you even give it a try. First, take the necessary time to get all the information you can from as many reputable sources available and immerse yourself in it. Try to obtain all the knowledge you can about whatever task you will be performing and prepare to follow those instructions completely.

Remember, even if the outcome is less than perfect you still are to be commended for overcoming your fears and going forward with your project. And you are the better for it too. Let this be a spring board for future references. No matter the outcome you really have succeeded and deserves to be congratulated for it.

One note of caution in closing, always use common sense and do not jeopardize your safety and the safety of others by attempting to do a dangerous job that should only be done by licensed professionals. And always call a reputable contractor if in doubt about anything at all. And be sure to check with your local officials concerning codes, regulations and licensing permits. Thank you and good luck.… Read More