December 15th, 2014

Recently, all around me, people have been scrambling to find paperwork.  Really, it's for all sorts of different reasons.  Whether it's a receipt for warrantee or income tax purposes, we all have "stuff" that we need to hang on to and yet, for most of us, it's difficult to put our hands on it when we need it.

When it comes to buying or selling a home or property, paperwork has value.  Not only does it make the sale easier, it adds value.  Property owners should keep a file on the actual property and another file on anything that they've purchased, repaired or had inspected on the property.  Put those files in a safe place where you can easily put your hands on them.

Surveys are extremely important.  As are documents on wells and septic systems. 

I find that once a Buyer becomes the owner, they tend to forget how important this "stuff" is, for a Buyer contemplating a purchase.  This is a costly memory lapse.

Owners should always think like a Buyer... it's about protecting your investment.  Remember that you may not see yourself selling in the future, but if it isn't you selling, it could be your estate- which makes things even more difficult.  For the sake of your executor/executrix, if not for yourself, you should have accurate files.

When you purchase, your lawyer provides you with a letter of opinion on title, a letter outlining adjustments, a copy of the deed and possibly septic papers and most likely a survey.  All of this paperwork should go into the file.  Remember, Buyers want to know where the property begins and ends.  They want to know where the septic tank and bed is... and if the system is running well- which means that receipts for having the septic system pumped are useful and valuable.

Buyers find it helpful to have instruction booklets for mechanical and electric equipment that may be included as part of the property.  This includes things like garage door openers, propane fireplace units, pumps and appliances.  They want to know the age of things.  When was the home built?  When was the roof last shingled?  When did you last get the water tested? These questions are easy to answer when you have a handy file of receipts. 

Perhaps you added gravel to the laneway, replaced an old deck, landscaped or backfilled part of the lot.  This information may be important to a future owner and can make the difference in their decision to buy.  Remember how you felt about your property when you decided to buy it.



Respect that decision and value every detail of care you have given to the property by keeping a record of it.  Dollars to doughnuts, you are going to need most of that "stuff" at some point.


December 6th, 2014

The past couple of weeks, we have been involved in the sale of a cottage property that had an issue with an encroachment.  An encroachment occurs when a structure is built (either in whole or in part) on someone else's property.  Encroachments in cottage country are not all that unusual, however, this particular situation has been very interesting.


Often the result of miscalculation during construction, encroachments may also be the result of incorrect surveys or misread surveys.  We have seen entire rows of cottages that have been built on land registered to the neighbouring owner.  These sorts of mistakes are frequently sorted out and settled quite amicably.  When a dispute arises from confusion in boundary lines,  the case usually becomes a legal matter and the courts will establish an equitable agreement. Unfortunately,  there are times when boundary disputes get ugly.  In these cases, the legal costs can skyrocket well about the value of the land that's being disputed. 



A common encroachment in cottage country occurs when property owners build boathouses, pump houses and storage sheds at the beach- when, frequently, they are building on shore/road allowance.  Generally speaking, when this occurs Ontario cottage country Realtors point to "squatter's rights" or the law of adverse possession which allows a trespasser to acquire ownership of someone else's land.   In Ontario, a simple test of these rights requires that the trespasser (or squatter) occupy another person's land without permission, exclusively and continuously for a period of ten years. 

Realtors also, frequently use the term "grandfathered",  meaning that the structure was built prior to current building restrictions and therefore, is not required to adhere to them.  Sounds easy, right?  Perhaps.




On the 25th of November, we presented an offer on a cottage for buyer clients, only to discover that the township had, just that morning, advised the Seller to remove a large storage shed from the shore/road allowance.  Said storage shed had been in the exact location for some thirty odd years.   It seemed impossible.  Crazy!


A call to the township building inspector confirmed that, over the past three months, the township had received numerous complaints from a neighbour about the storage sheds.  (The cottage is being sold by an estate and it's likely that the neighbour knew of the owner's passing and felt it timely to lodge their complaint.)  Regardless of grandfathering or adverse possessory rights, the township was insisting the sheds had to be removed. In fact, they said they would enforce it by placing a lien on the property, preventing any sale, if the building was not removed.


The estate was not interested in engaging in a legal battle with the municipality about the shed and the Buyers didn't like the idea of having any trouble with the neighbours... but more importantly, it was a little scary, glancing around that lake, and seeing the number of cottagers who may find they're involved in a similar dispute.  This seems a rather frightening precedent.

The bottom line here? If you are about to build on or near your property line, check with a surveyor first.  If you are about to purchase a cottage property, check with a surveyor first... get the property lines flagged- and if you find yourself facing a boundary dispute, consider the costs (both financial and emotional) before you call your lawyer.


Winter: The Practical Time to Purchase Recreational Property

December 3rd, 2014

Typically, businesses set their vacation schedule in January and people start thinking about when and where they want to spend their time off.   An October Google survey found that just under 51% of Americans had not yet taken any vacation days in 2014. 

Experts suggest their are numerous factors influencing this trend, however, of key significance is that the press is filled with stories of violence and disease.  Simply put, people want to leave this sort of worry behind them when they take a holiday.  A cottage, central to the Canadian experience, is the answer to this dilemma. 

The demand for cottages is rising.  What was once a very cost effective alternative for a family vacation has become a serious financial investment.  Buying in what is generally considered the off-season, is one way of getting good value.   Partial ownership is also becoming more common with a cottage being shared between friends or family members, as is buying into a time-share scenario.  Alternatively, many are purchasing a cottage and offering it for rent, to others. 

It's particularly easy for folks who work in larger businesses to find colleagues who would like to rent their cottage... and frequently while discussing vacation schedules, the thought arises- only to be squelched by concerns about the season.  No worries!  Winter is a great time to view a cottage property.  Not only do you get to see the lay of the land, you get a more realistic view of accessibility and a better understanding of how long it will take you to get there, under challenging road conditions.   

Remember, cottaging is a four season activity.  While this may not appeal to you, it might be the perfect time to rent the place to someone who loves ice fishing, snow-shoeing, skiing or snowmobiling.   Artists and photographers are also drawn to cottage country in the winter.    

Perhaps, best of all, there are generally fewer buyers in the winter market.  This means you are less likely to have competition with an offer and you might be able to strike a better deal.  However, it's important to remember that while a seller might not want to carry the worry and expense of their cottage until the spring, they are also aware that the spring market is more active and they aren't likely going to give it away, just because of a little snow on the ground.

Getting Real

December 1st, 2014



Every Monday, I try to set aside at least a few hours to work on improving, systemizing and implementing new marketing strategies for our listings.  Our relationship with customers and clients is our most valuable asset and we mean it when we say we customize our marketing plan, for each listing.

We go at things a little differently than most Realtors.  We don't prospect.  In fact, we think prospecting is a waste of time.  We see prospecting rather like a hamster wheel that traps unwary Realtors... as long as they're prospecting, the wheel turns and the minute they step off, it stops.... the truth is that it's very difficult to keep the wheel spinning while you're focused on customers and clients- and that's what we do best. 

 We don't have our faces on big Highway signs or benches.  We don't use gimmicks.  We don't use the same scripts, the mail outs or the one-size-fits all newsletter. We don't search for business, we simply don't have time.  Instead, we focus our attention on developing relationships and we are rewarded with referrals from happy Buyers and Sellers.  People come to us.

Sure, when we first started in the business, we went to seminars and courses run by gurus, trainers and coaches but they all said pretty much the same thing, you have to have set yourself apart, develop a "unique selling proposition" (USP).  It's hard to imagine that 1000s of Realtors can create a USP by attending the same seminars, and using the same tools, over and over and over again.


That's why we used Get Real as our domain name for our Real Estate website.  We are husband and wife who work together, as a team.  When you call us, you speak to one or both of us, not an assistant  (and not often do you get an answering machine). We answer our emails.  We do the leg work. We remain available for the entire process.  We say what we mean and mean what we say.  It's as important to us to be authentic; as it is to be honest.  We are business people, we do Real Estate and we do it well. 


A Four Season Playground- Rally Time!

November 29th, 2014

 This is the annual weekend for "Earth Shredding Entertainment" in these parts.  It's the Rally of the Tall Pines.  The spectator schedule is available online at:


Town is buzzing with activity and it seems to me, there's always something going on!  Bancroft is not only known as the Mineral Capital of Canada, it's a bona fide four season playground.  In addition to the fabulous scenery, we have a multitude of interesting people and events that provide a wide array of activities.   We've got information about local clubs, events and activities available in our office and we invite the community to keep us informed!

The Royal LePage Frank Real Estate brokerage office is located in the center of the town of Bancroft and are happy to be a resource of local area and community information.