Green Spring Cleaning Your Muskoka Home

Sprin Clean GreenAfter enduring an extra long winter it’s finally time to fling open the windows of your Muskoka home and let in the fresh spring air . It is also time to tackle the dreaded spring cleaning. Conventional cleaning products can be more dangerous than the dirt they’re intended to clean so what are your options? The way we clean (with lots of disposable paper towels) isn’t always earth-friendly either. However, there are many available alternatives that can help you make your home squeaky clean—and green too!

Green Cleaning Products

The last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into our beautiful environment as you clean. These days, you don’t have to make a special trip to a speciality store to seek out environmentally friendly cleaning products. Green Works products available in many stores including Walmart and the Green line from Independent Grocers are just a couple of the many products available that both protect the environment and work as well as the more traditional brands.  Or, if you’re up for a DIY challenge, you can make your own natural homemade cleaners yourself. It’s easier than you might think! The basic supplies you’ll need to make your own green cleaners include:

Distilled white vinegar (sold in most supermarkets)

Baking soda

Olive oil

Borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle)

Liquid castile soap (a natural soap base made from saponified organic oils of coconut and sunflower. found in most health foods stores)

Essential oils (super concentrated natural plant oils found in health foods stores, usually in the cosmetics section)

Microfiber cleaning cloths

Newspaper

Here are a few basic “recipes” and techniques to get you started:

Glass: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with one quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a lint-free cloth.

Countertops and bathroom tile: Mix two parts vinegar and one-part baking soda with four parts water. Apply with a sponge, scour and wipe away.

Floors: Mix four cups of white distilled vinegar with about a gallon of hot water. If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil for a pleasant scent. After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the scent of the oil.

Wood furniture: Mix equal parts lemon juice and olive and oil. Apply a small amount to a cloth and rub onto the furniture in long, even strokes.

Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away! Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead. Wipe the outside of the toilet with straight vinegar.

Disinfectant: Mix two teaspoons borax, four tablespoons vinegar, three cups hot water and 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use a spray bottle. Wipe clean.

Mold and mildew: Wipe with straight vinegar.

Air freshener: Sprinkle essential oil on a cotton ball and stash it in a corner of the room. If you have kids, make sure it’s out of their reach, as essential oils are very strong and could irritate their skin. Lavender is a relaxing scent that is great for bedrooms, while cinnamon, clove and citrus oils are great for the rest of the house. You can stash a few in the car, too—try peppermint, which may help you stay alert.

Green Cleaning Tips

Hang dry your laundry. Drying your clothes in an electric or gas dryer isn’t just hard on your clothes, but it’s also hard on the environment. Don’t stop with natural laundry detergent—to truly stay green, install a clothesline in your backyard. If space (or aesthetics) is an issue, look for a retractable clothesline, which takes up almost no space when not in use. Weather permitting, line-dry your clothes outside to reduce pollution, while also cutting your energy bill, getting more exercise, enjoying the fresh air and extending the life of your clothes. Plus, they’ll smell like a clean breeze (the real kind, not the chemical kind).

  • Add a little greenery. Install a living air filter—houseplants! Some of the most efficient air-cleaning houseplants include spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants and peace lilies. You’ll need 15 to 18 medium-size (six- to eight-inch diameter container) houseplants for the average 1,800-square-foot house. If that sounds like a lot, place a few plants in the room where you spend the most time.
  • De-clutter your wardrobe. Donate gently worn items to charity, where they’ll get a second life, and donate torn and stained items (if they’re made of an absorbent fabric) to your rag collection, where they’ll replace wasteful paper towels. And as you’re packing up your winter sweaters, replace stinky mothballs with a natural and better-smelling version: Stuff a lonely unpaired sock with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and whole cloves and tie it at the end.
  • Paint your walls green. If spring cleaning at your house involves a fresh coat of paint, consider the VOC content when choosing your paint. VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemicals that form vapors at room temperature. Some VOCs, like the ones in many paints, contribute to smog and indoor air pollution, and can cause a host of short- and long-term health problems. The good news is that many paint manufacturers have started making low- or no-VOC paints. The bad news is that many of those manufacturers have simply substituted VOCs with other non-VOC (yet still toxic) chemicals. For truly eco-conscious safe paint, check out these products: Homestead House Paint Co., Benjamin Moore Natura and Sherwin Williams Harmony.
  • Swap out your Swiffer. Instead of continually buying expensive single-use mop pads, invest in a reusable mop or cloth head. There are many brands available and Walmart even has some that will fit over an existing Swiffer type mop. These mop heads can be washed in your washing machine, hung dry and used again and again—well worth their moderate price tag.
  • Stop using paper towels. Save trees, cash and landfill waste when you buy specially-made, washable cleaning and dusting cloths, available in all types of fabrics, from cotton to microfiber. Better yet, use what you already have and give an old piece of cloth (stained towels, ratty sheets and pillowcases, too-small t-shirts, etc.) a new life. Simply cut or tear your old item into smaller squares (if you want to get fancy, finish the edges with a sewing machine), and voila! Pop them in the washing machine with your laundry to clean and use them again and again.

Cleaning up your Muskoka home for spring doesn’t have to be dirty work. By implementing some of these ideas and products, you will benefit your body, your home and the planet. Many of these changes are small ones, but their impact on your health and the environment can really add up over time.

 

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Buying a Muskoka Fixer-Upper Home Yes or No?

Have you been thinking about buying a Muskoka home to fix up and live in? There is a certain romance to the thought of taking on a home that needs a lot of work and making it yours with your own blood, sweat and tears.  Maybe you’re on the other side and thoughts of Tom Hanks and Shelly Long throwing their money into a “money pit” have you saying “No way, not for me!”.

A traditional fixer-upper is a property that will require significant renovations, reconstruction or redesign to be habitable or saleable at market value. They typically list and sell below the market value of homes of equal size and vintage in similar neighbourhoods.

So, you need to ask yourself if a fixer-upper is a bargain brimming with potential OR should it be avoided like the plague? The answer to this perplexing question will depend on several factors, including you!

One of the best reasons to buy a fixer-up home or cottage is for the location &/or lot. If you are determined to live in a particular part of Muskoka it may mean you have to “snap up” what is available and then fix up the home or cottage to suit your needs.  If the size and structure of the property are right for you, it likely makes more sense to renovate as opposed to a complete demolition and rebuild which can be more time-consuming and in most cases more expensive.

Renovating a fixer-upper is expensive, and you can’t often finance a renovation.  Typically it is not a project for a first-time buyer as usually all available funds are directed to the actual purchase.  Remember that a fixer-upper is a large project, not the usual renovation projects most of us plan to do over time after we move into new home.  So, to tackle a fixer-upper you need to have some capital tucked away to fund the project. Typically, it is a second or third-time home buyer who has a little DIY experience who takes on a fixer-upper home.

A buyer for a fixer-upper is sometimes someone looking for their “forever home” or they may be an investor seeking poorly-maintained properties to fix and flip. In both cases they have usually had several home purchase experiences under their belts and can rely on this to help them through tackling a large project like this.

As a buyer you need to consider your time, money and knowledge when taking on a fixer-upper. Will the time and money involved in fixing up a home or cottage be worth it in the end? If your full-time job is contracting, will the time spent on your own project be as valuable in the end as working on paid contracts?

Be prepared for surprises.  Buyers for this type of property often don’t spend money on a Home Inspection. Without a thorough inspection of the property you could miss costly remediation issues like mold, asbestos, or faulty foundations.

Also be sure to include time for due diligence to explore municipal regulations, zoning and permitting.  And, allow adequate time to carefully cost out the renovation – small things add up. Doing so could save a lot of heart ache or even financial loss.

A final consideration is whether you will need to hire a project manager or do it alone.  Will you hire a contractor for the entire project, or manage contractors and trades for the different jobs yourself? Hiring trades for everything can be a challenge to coordinate if you’ve never done it before especially if you don’t know the local trades people.  And remember, the good ones are often booked several months out.

As a local Realtor with many years of experience I am happy to help you find a perfect project home or cottage.  And, if you have your heart set on a “fixer- upper” with my contacts in the region I may be able to suggest trades people you will need to be successful in your venture.

Renovation Do’s and Don’ts for Your Muskoka Home Resale

Karen Acton - Renovating your Muskoka HomeWhen you decide it’s time to sell your home, you may consider making some changes before listing.  A wise investment of time and money can drastically improve your potential resale value; however, a good plan is vital.

You may believe you are the master of your own renovation, but that may not be the case. Reno’s can develop their own inertia. Things often grind to a halt as each decision can lead to new a dilemma, an unintended consequence or an unexpected outcome. This can result in delays getting listed and missing out on a great market.

Here are a few renovations that I believe make good financial sense, providing a nice return on your investment at the time of resale — and a few that don’t.

Good Resale Value Projects for Muskoka Homes

Kitchens.Updating a tired old kitchen is one of the wisest methods of increasing the value of your home. Keep in mind when planning a kitchen reno, making design decisions, or selecting plumbing fixtures, appliances, cabinets and countertop materials that your choices should appeal to the largest segment of the market and not personal preferences.

Remember, using the existing kitchen layout and affordable cosmetic materials is a sure way to keep the cost of your kitchen reno manageable. When you start tearing out walls, bumping out the exterior home footprint to gain a few feet, and moving plumbing fixtures and appliances, the cost of the job will jump and your return on investment dollars will diminished.

Bathrooms.Home buyers notice bathrooms, and although all the bathrooms are important, a priority should be placed on the master bath, followed by the guest bathroom/powder room and any other secondary bathrooms.

The same rules apply to a bathroom remodel as to the kitchen. Cosmetic changes are safer from an investment standpoint than modifications involving changing layouts. Again keep the permanent pieces neutral so they appeal to a wider audience.

Master suites.As home buying decisions are in the hands of adults, and adults care about the environment where they sleep, updating a master bedroom or remodeling and adding a new master ensuite can be money well spent. Buyers will picture themselves living in their private space especially if they have children living at home or plan to have a family.

Curb appeal.Very often this is the best project for a return on investment. You have heard not to judge a book by its cover, but smart money recognizes the cover’s value. Your front elevation (unless you are on the water) is more than just a first impression. It’s the only impression available to just about all your home’s potential buyers.

The good news is that there are numerous affordable projects that can improve curb appeal. One of the first things buyers look at is the roof.  If it’s in poor condition, it can be perceived as an indication of the overall maintenance of the home. It may cost less to have it done before listing than what you might lose in the negotiating process of an offer.

Repainting is another low-cost, high-impact improvement.  Even a professional cleaning of the exterior siding can make a considerable difference.

Cleaning out overgrown brush and making a few new planting additions to your landscape can go a long way toward improving curb appeal at a very low cost.

Costlier changes such as replacing old windows or an aged entry door are things that potential buyers will notice and value too.

Poor Resale Value

Garages. Adding a garage or insulating an existing one are great ideas, but only if you plan to stay put. Unless you are a great handyman and have access to inexpensive materials and labour, these changes won’t generally pay for themselves if you plan to sell soon.

Pools. Backyard pools are loved by many, and while this appreciation is well founded, they should be constructed for their many virtues that are NOT investment related. Here in Muskoka, it is unlikely to pay for itself in resale value. Many buyers perceive a pool as a negative maintenance expense.

Home theaters/kids’ spaces. No, I am not trying to be the Grinch but there is no assurance your home buyer will be ‘into’ movies or have children living at home. Adding that rock-climbing wall or screens, projectors & speakers might represent unwanted expense to buyers who see this space better used for something more suited to their family.

Removing features.Do not remove features for investment reasons unless they are truly an eyesore or a safety hazard. If you never use the fireplace in your basement, removing it might make perfect sense to you, but the next homeowner might wish it were still there, and the money you spent demolishing and reworking the space will not be reclaimed.

Wine rooms.These are definitely trendy and will almost be expected in large high-end homes however; in a typical Muskoka home they will not add value to the resale.

I am always happy to answer questions and help with recommendations. If you are thinking of reselling your Muakok home and would like some advice on the best ways to improve your resale value, just give me a call!

Why I love being a Muskoka Realtor in the Winter

fire-and-ice-bracebridge

Fire and Ice festival – Picture from Discover Muskoka

Being an active Muskoka Realtor I get to see this beautiful region in all the seasons. Yes, there are times I am more happy to live here than others. The -35oC  mornings in January do take my breath away and not always because of the spectacular scenery!

However, being a devotee of fresh-air and out-door fun, I know Muskoka in winter can be a blast too. That’s why I am never surprised to be selling recreational homes and cottages ALL year round. Muskoka is not just a summer destination any more.

Here are a few things I know my friends and family enjoy and are definitely part of the draw for my buyers.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
One of the most amazing ways to enjoy the majestic Muskoka winter landscape is to bundle up in your warmest clothes and snap into your cross-country skis or snowshoes. There are numerous trails to choose from giving you easy access to nature and a great cardiovascular workout too. Favourite locations are Algonquin and Arrowhead Provincial Parks and also the Frost Centre Ski and Snowshoe Trails  which offers ample space for an outdoor adventure, with nine track-set ski loops of varying difficulty, plus nearly 40 kilometers of back-country hiking trails through the Muskoka winter wonderland. If you want to try out these activities but do not have equipment you can rent from several places including Algonquin Outfitters and Muskoka Outfitters.

Snowmobiling
If you are a fan of something faster, snowmobiling is an exhilarating way to experience the Muskoka winter. Yes, it is noisier than skiing or hiking, but it also allows you to cover a lot more territory. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs manages a 1,200-kilometer network of tracks, stretching across the Muskoka winter landscape. Remember to ride in Ontario you must have a valid driver’s license and purchase a trail permit, but you need not own your own sled. Rentals are available you can find out more by visiting the OFSC’s website.

Skiing
Muskoka isn’t exactly known for its mountainous terrain, but there are enough peaks and valleys here to take advantage of our beautiful Muskoka winter. In Huntsville, the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area features  downhill runs and  a snowboard terrain park with options for most skill levels and a ski shop and rentals available on site.

Dog-sledding
In Muskoka you say? Yes, you don’t need to travel to the Arctic Circle to experience the thrill of dog-sledding. North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville offers visitors the opportunity to “mush!” with a team of 60 beautiful Alaskan huskies. Take a short 1 hour run or a half day tour with a hot chocolate break in the middle. You will be given the opportunity to meet the dogs and take some lovely pictures too!

Ice Fishing
The region’s most popular on-water activity in summer may be boating but in the winter the fish win for sure. Once the lakes have frozen over there are many locations you can simply cut a hole and bring your pole to have hours of fun. In the Huntsville area, Hooked Young provides all-inclusive ice fishing experiences in mobile shacks or in a large cabin with cooking facilities and a washroom. Knowledgeable guides take you to where the fish are, maximizing your chances to hook a lake trout, northern pike or pickerel, while enjoying the company of fellow anglers.

Taking a Spa Day
A day out in our dry crisp Muskoka can take a toll on your body. Fortunately, Muskoka is home to several wonderful spas. Among the most luxurious is the Spa at the Rosseau, which offers facials, body treatments, couples packages and more in a calming space overlooking its namesake lake. Elsewhere, Touch SpaThe Amba Spa and Spa Taboo feature equally diverse treatment packages – perfect for a little skin and muscle rejuvenation after a day or two of outdoor fun and exercise.

Bracebridge Fire & Ice Festival                                                                                        Whether you are shopping for a Muskoka property or not, be sure to take in the Fire & Ice Festival in Bracebridge on January 26, 2019. With fireworks, fire pits, a legendary downtown tube run, interactive ice displays, a skating trail in Memorial Park, Lumberjack Show, wood carving, Birds of Prey interactive show & more – there is something for everyone.

I love being a Muskoka Realtor as much as I love simply being a Muskoka resident in the stunning winter we get to enjoy. If you are thinking that you would love being here as much as I do, then take a look at my listings and let me find you a perfect Muskoka home or get-away.

The Pros and Cons of Listing your Muskoka Home During Holiday Season

Holiday TreeIt’s tinsel time but don’t worry if you are thinking of selling your Muskoka home. While there are some challenges at this time of year, there are also some little-known advantages to selling through the Holiday Season!

The Challenges

  • Some salespeople close-up shop and take a break rather than take on new business.
  • People in general are distracted by friends, family, presents and parties. To be honest it can be an exhausting season and the prospect of attempting to sell you home may be overwhelming.
  • The condition of your property, roof, septic system (if you have one), and landscaping are difficult for buyers to assess in the winter. Pictures from other seasons and receipts/permits are helpful.

The Advantages  

So, let me show you where the advantages lie.

Buyers with Time to Look

Although it is a busy time of year, many people have time away from work during this season. If they are looking to purchase a home, they will gladly use this time to look at a new listing.

A Lot Less Competition

When you are selling at the height of the spring or summer seasons, you need to work hard to stand out from the crowd, especially in busy markets like we have seen recently in Muskoka.  During the winter there are often far fewer properties available and very few “new” ones, giving motivated buyers fewer prospects to consider.

You can take of this opportunity to be one of a special few!

It is an Emotional Season

It is the season of less work and more play. Folks are full of merriment and generally feeling happier and more relaxed. When buyers are happy, they are often in a better mood to negotiate and more likely to act. This definitely means that the process can be easier on all parties.

The new year is also a time of reflections and fresh starts. Many buyers will want to have that fresh start in a new home just like you would like to sell the one you are currently in and have your own fresh start.

A Special Kind of Romance

A home can have a unique appeal during the Holiday season especially here in Muskoka with beautiful snow as our backdrop. If your target market is families, you can tastefully decorate so it lives and breathes the perfect family Christmas. If you have a great starter home, then dress it with the cozy warmth of a romantic home for two.

Buyers can get more emotional over the holidays, so appealing to the heart strings isn’t taboo. Embrace the season and try to connect with others who love it.

Leftover Fall Demand

The Fall selling season is over, and some people who recently sold their homes are still looking for their next home. Additionally, there are still buyers who missed out in competition during the busier summer months who are still looking to purchase their dream home.

Rental Market Opportunities

The rental market is often in flux at this time of year. Leases are up, and people are working out their next steps. Will it be a new place to rent or is it time to buy? You could be one of the few good choices they have.

Money, Money, Money

The end of the year often heralds financial changes. Taxation requirements, investment maturities and annual bonuses are often calculated, and people’s thoughts turn to where to invest. Real Estate is always a popular choice.

There are many reasons buyers might want or need to purchase a new home before Auld Lang Syne kicks in. Make it a smooth proposition for them and bundle your property as the solution to their problems.

However you choose to celebrate or even if you celebrate the holidays, this is a great season to consider listing you Muskoka Home with a hard working Realtor. Call me today and let me help you have a Happy New Year.

 

Tips and Tricks for the Muskoka Home Owner Snowbird to Prepare for Departure!

Palm Tree Matalach FLIf you are a Muskoka snowbird heading to the sunny south for the winter, here are some important things you can do to help protect your vacant home. Taking these steps can help protect your home from winter damage drawing the attention of those who would seek to steal things or damage your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

Make Your Home Appear as Though It Is Continuously Occupied

  • Forward your mail, stop newspaper delivery, and ask a friend or relative to collect flyers or other items that may be left at your door or on your driveway.
  • Arrange for someone to remove snow after storms.
  • Install motion-sensitive exterior lights and put interior lights on timers and set them to come on at varying times to discourage prowlers.

Take Steps to Protect Your Home from Thieves

  • Confirm that your alarm systems are in working order and have been activated.
  • Secure external doors and windows with deadbolt locks, security-type hinges and sturdy door frames that cannot be spread apart. Install slide locks or other equivalent security locks on sliding glass doors or French doors.
  • Store valuables that you are not taking with you in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
  • Do not post your vacation or travel plans on social media sites, as potential thieves can use that information to learn that your house is vacant.

Protect Your Pipes to Avoid Water Damage by Turning Off Your Water Supply

  • If a pipe bursts or leaks while you are away, it could cause significant damage. Consider completely turning off the water supply if no one will be in the home for an extended period of time. REMEMBER, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system.
  • Drain your pipes of all water by opening the faucets and flush your toilet to clear the water from the tank and bowl, then consider pouring antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing. Do not use auto antifreeze, rather use non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems.
  • To help confirm that the pipes have been drained, consider having a plumber blow compressed air through the pipes.

Keep Your Home and Plumbing Warm if Your Water Supply Stays On

  • If you decide against draining your water pipes, keep the furnace running to help ensure the home stays warm and the pipes do not freeze.
  • Set the temperature at 10°C or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities where the water piping is likely located above freezing temperatures. Keeping room and cabinet doors open also helps the heat circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
  • Shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers where possible, to avoid any leaks or broken hoses while you are away.
  • Turn off the heat source and water supply to hot water heaters (if separate from your boiler).
  • Shut off and drain outdoor water faucets to prevent freezing damage.
  • If you have water treatment systems don’t forget they need to be winterized too. YouTube has lots of videos on how to do this or call a local expert if you need help.
  • Consider having a water flow sensor and low temperature sensor installed on your main water supply pipe and hooked into a constantly monitored alarm system or your smart phone.

Perform Routine Maintenance Before You Leave

  • Have your heating system inspected and serviced before winter. Have your fuel tanks filled before you leave and ask someone to check on heat and fuel levels regularly while you are gone.
  • Have your roof inspected before you leave and clean your gutters to help prevent ice from building up.
  • Remove dead trees or large overhanging limbs that could damage your house.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances before you leave.
  • If you have a landline phone make sure you can retrieve messages from the answering machine or voicemail so it does not indicate FULL or unattended when someone calls.

Make Your Home Unattractive to Pests

  • Clean your home thoroughly to help discourage new “residents” from moving in.
  • Clean, defrost and unplug refrigerators and freezers, wiping them dry and leaving doors propped open to prevent mildew. Also clean the oven.
  • Inspect your home for openings that animals could use to enter. For example, make sure your fireplace flue is closed, as bats, birds and squirrels are known to get inside this way.
  • Check weather-stripping, insulation and exterior doors and windows to ensure no major deficiencies are present. Water and insects can enter through these openings.
  • Chimneys should be inspected by a chimney service and, if necessary, cleaned to ensure that they are free from obstructions such as nesting birds. Install chimney guard screen-caps to help prevent any infestation.

Be Ready for Emergencies

  • Notify the police department that the property will be vacant and provide emergency notification numbers.
  • Install smoke detectors on at least every floor (preferably tied to a constantly monitored fire alarm system so the fire department will automatically be notified in case of alarm) and confirm that the sensors and system are tested regularly.
  • Ask a trusted friend, neighbor or relative to keep an eye on your home and be available in emergency situations. Give them access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems. This may be a requirement of your insurance and a minimum frequency of visits may be stipulated to prevent voiding your policy. Make sure you understand the requirements of your insurer.
  • Have them also check the roof for ice dams and inspect for leaks inside. Make sure they have your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.

 

As your Muskoka Realtor I am always happy to help you find the resources you need to get your self ready for your winter away.

Legal Cannabis and your Muskoka Home

October 17, 2018 is a big day for many Canadians who have wanted to see the use of recreational marijuana made legal. But what will the impact be on your Muskoka home and its future resale value? Will you choose to legally grow cannabis plants in your home? Will a home you wish to purchase in the future have been used as a “home grow” that may have caused hidden issues? Will being close to a legal commercial “grow op” impact value? Is being close to a retail outlet a pro or a con? These are important questions to think about.

What the New Law Says

  • 4 Cannabis plants may be grown in each residence-includes apartment/condominium units
  • No growth height restrictions
  • Could include outside garden, but may be determined by province but Ontario has made no specification at this time
  • No regulation on safe growing.

Risks to Consider

  • Mould and moisture damage
  • High-voltage lights pose a potential fire hazard

In a CBC interview the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said the government’s plan to allow so-called “home grow” could lead to the spread of mould and other fungi in residences across the country — which could result in some costly surprises for home buyers.

“There’s absolutely no question it impacts the value of the home,” Michael Bourque, chief executive officer of CREA, told senators, adding the physical effects of a grow op can often go undetected during a home inspection.

The new law will limit home marijuana growers to four plants per household. The government initially intended to limit plants to 100 centimeters in height, but the House of Commons approved an amendment that removed such a restriction.

“On the surface [four plants] sounds moderate, but the legislation doesn’t limit the number of crops or the size of each plant. Four plants could yield over five kilograms a year, which has the potential to cause structural damage to dwellings and comes with associated health consequences,” Bourque said, noting the use of fertilizers and pesticides in the growing process could exacerbate environmental health risks in a home or a multi-unit dwelling that shares air circulation.

The question of buying a home that has been used to grow cannabis or trying to sell one that has, may be of less significance that the proximity of home to retail and commercial grow facilities. In a recent Zoocasa story this was the data they discovered.

In the journal “Real Estate Economics,” James Conklin and co-authors studied the conversion of medical marijuana stores to recreational marijuana, and the subsequent effect on housing prices in Denver, Colorado after legalization in 2014.

Their research showed that homes located near converted stores experienced appreciation at 8% higher than homes further away.

Realtor.com also reported on American cities having undergone a year of experience with recreational marijuana sales. Their data showed a significant increase in home prices — well above the national median price.

The same data shows that while proximity to a pot shop tends to increase home value, Colorado homes close to grow-ops have lost value. Evidently, the pungent odor of pot is a sticking point for many American buyers.

There is no Canadian data available yet, but it is something for us to watch.

Will it be a “big deal” in the “big picture”?  In a CBC interview Jonathan Page, a botanist who has studied cannabis extensively and serves as the CEO of Anandia Labs, said he doesn’t expect a new flood of grow ops to result from the bill and predicts most Canadians will simply opt to buy the product from a licensed provider.

“I think this is an exaggeration. Canadians can produce their own beer and wine at home, grow tobacco for personal use, and yet the vast majority buy these products from stores,” he said.

No matter what the future holds as a Muskoka home owner you need to be informed. Your choice to grow cannabis while legal may have more ramifications than you think. As a Muskoka Realtor you can rest assured I will be talking to my Sellers about stigmas, defects and disclosure; and ensuring my Buyers conduct independent research into properties they wish to purchase.

For more information about marijuana legalization in Ontario, please refer to the Ontario Governments web site.