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Avoid These Pitfalls when Selling Niagara on the Lake Real Estate

It is a great time to sell your home in Canada, if you are careful to avoid some common and basic mistakes. With a booming economy and a seller’s market, homes are in demand right now. Bidding wars have become far more common.

If you take too much for granted, you can have a difficult time selling your home. A qualified real estate agent can help you avoid costly mistakes. Here are some common pitfalls that a real estate professional can help you to avoid.

The Price Is Right

Be careful when pricing your home. Many homeowners make the cardinal mistake of believing their home is worth more than it is. Of course you want to get the most money possible out of your home- but do your research.

See what similar homes are getting on the market. Listen to advice from your Niagara on the Lake Realty agent. A realistic price can actually result in bidding wars that garner you more than you originally asked for.

Perception Determines Reality

Everyone wants to present the best view of their home possible. You will want to make sure you are being realistic.

Is that third bedroom actually more of a walk-in closet? Is your basement really finished or is there just an area rug and a coat of paint on the cement walls? A qualified real estate agent knows how to highlight the best parts of the homes and frame negatives in a way that will not disappoint potential buyers.

The Book and Its Cover

When you take photos for your home sale, do not use a low-definition cell phone camera. Avoid posting blurry, amateurish pictures. In today’s climate, your home photos should be high-definition and crystal clear.

Home buyers make a lot of preliminary decisions based on ads online. The better your photos are, the better a story you tell with them. With quality photography, you will be more likely to attract quality buyers.

Customize Your Marketing Plan

Sit down with your real estate agent and create a solid plan of action before you advertise your home. Standard listings and scripted sales plans will make you just another face in the crowd.

You will want to tailor and personalize your home’s marketing plan. Your listings must effectively highlight the property for buyers and tell them why they should come look at it. Choose a demographic to whom your home appeals, and strike out to market to those people.

These mistakes are easily avoided, but can be costly. The key is to use a qualified and knowledgeable real estate agent. If you are looking to sell your NOTL real estate, contact Kevin Stokes or another Niagara on the Lake Realty professional today!



Niagara-on-the-Lake: The Prettiest Ontario Town

Between the wineries and vineyards, incredible local cuisine and lively entertainment scene, the Niagara-on-the-Lake region is a welcoming place to live. Now is a perfect time to purchase property in the NOTL area, and Niagara on the Lake Realty is ready to help you find your dream home. Let us take a few moments to look at some of the main attractions in the prettiest town in Ontario.

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Ideas to Help Sell Your Home in the Fall

The last days of summer are winding down. Many people who have a home on the market during this time or are thinking about listing may be nervous about the reputation autumn and winter have for declining home sales.

Just because a higher number of homes sell in the warmer months does not mean the other months do not have people looking to buy. Many families and retirees are still looking for a means to relocate during this time, so never count your house out for a fall sale.

If you really want to know how to gain interest for your house during the fall, then here are some handy strategies to use.

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Why Buying a Second Home Before Retirement Makes Sense

Most homeowners cannot imagine owning a second home. Those who think they do not have the means to buy on may even never consider the idea. If you are planning on retiring within the next ten years, buying a second home now that you plan on moving into several years down the road could actually end up being an incredible bargain.

Buy Now, Move Later

The reason this strategy makes sense is two-fold but with one explanation: housing prices are cheap right now, and so are current mortgage rates. If you plan on retiring, your intended new home’s price has an almost guaranteed chance of going up before you actually make the move. On top of that, selling your current home in a buyer’s market does not make sense either.

To have your cake and eat it too, buy a house while the market is still favorable and wait for both of your homes’ values to go up. By the time you are ready to move into the home, your current house will sell for much more than it is worth now. You can also use the cash generated from your sale to help pay down more of the principal for your mortgage and reduce the back-ended interest.

If You Rent It, They Will Come

This strategy may still not sound workable. Given the amount of interest paid in addition to the cost of maintenance as well as property taxes, the house would have to appreciate quite a bit in five years to break perfectly even.

If you were to rent out your home rather than leaving it vacant, you would actually have enough money each month to put down the majority of the mortgage payment. Thus, while you would have the financial ties to a mortgage, you would also have extra income rolling in before you retire. The rent you charge would also help cover the cost of maintenance and taxes.

Some Contingencies

Obviously, this method of purchasing a house to retire in would not work if you still had a significant mortgage to pay off. This strategy would also have to involve enough liquid assets to cover the down payment.

While a 30 year mortgage currently has amazing rates, a five or seven year adjustable rate mortgage could be the wiser decision for being so close to retirement. After all, no one wants to spend their remaining years in significant debt.

The Perfect Plan

If you happen to meet the above criteria, then buying a second home in anticipation of your retirement might just be the best option. Luckily, many agencies like Niagara on the Lake Realty offer both buyer and renting services. With one just one agency, you could have someone to help identify a winning property and then manage it for you. Visit our buyers page to find out more about the houses available as well as our buying process.

Buying a Vacation Home in Niagara on the Lake

Niagara on the lake offers outstanding vacation properties for sale.Buying a vacation home is an intimidating process. Balancing the financial responsibility of a second mortgage and caring for a second home can seem daunting, and that’s after you get through the often stressful buying process. However, with a bit of help and a lot of planning, you can have the Niagara on the Lake (NOTL) getaway you deserve. The good news is that you’ve already conquered the first step to selecting a great vacation home! Any expert will tell you that the key to investing in vacation homes is location, and you can’t do better than Niagara on the Lake.

This town is filled with a vigour and vibrancy that hangs in the air like perfume. When you breath it in, it electrifies you to your very bones. The air is sweet, the water is resplendent, and that makes the properties worth investing in. Here is a brief rundown of some important things to consider when you are shopping for your vacation dream spot in Niagara on the Lake.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Buying Vacation a Property

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Summertime in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara on the Lake realty offers a wide selection of available homes to better enjoy the local events year round.Summer is officially in full swing in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This means that there are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, from festivals to farmers markets. It’s the perfect time of year to leave your NOTL home behind for the day to see what’s happening outside. Here are a few of the many events going on in the area this summer.

How to Spend Summer in Niagara on the Lake

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Niagara Real Estate Welcomes Christmas!

You would think that it turns pretty quiet around Niagara-on-the-Lake during the winter months and in many ways, you would be right. Festivals, fruit stalls, outdoor shows, farmers markets and craft fares/art shows all disappear and many of the local residents go away too. I have met quite a few people in town who decide to head off to warmer climates for a month or two or even longer!

Although I can see the appeal of this migration and must admit to being a little envious of those with the time to have this option, I also feel they are missing out on the many things that can be enjoyed here during winter. Firstly, in Canadian terms, the winter here is pretty mild. Snow often does not fall until late December (though this year, we had an accumulation in mid-November but it has gone now). The temperature fluctuates between 5 degree and minus 5 degrees generally so pretty bearable.

Dec 6 rotaryhousetour_

December is proving to be a busy time. This weekend – December 6th and 7th – is the Rotary Club Holiday House Tour. As a NOTL Rotary Club member, I have been busy selling tickets for the event. A group of local homeowners volunteer to open their homes up to the public and have them decorated by local companies. You purchase tickets and receive a list of the homes and addresses then tour from house to house over the two days. Members of the Rotary Club are at each house to give you a brief history of the property. It is a great even and always very well attended.

Dec 6 stroll

On the evening of December 6th, there is the Candlelight Stroll. Locals and visitors alike, congregate in front of the Town Hall for a brief address from the Mayor along with some carol singing. Everyone takes a candle then walks through the town to admire the decorations and to listen to choir singers who are positioned in various locations around the town. This is a fun event and a great way to enjoy an evening with friends!

Dec 6 fire

The other major event is the re-enactment of the Burning of the Town. As everyone knows, Niagara-on-the-Lake was burned to the ground by the Americans during the War of 1812 and this ‘one time only’ re-enactment  event  takes place on December 10th – Niagara on Fire! There will be outdoor video screens with special effects and sound and light shows. It is a ‘must see’ event.

Saturday December 14th is the Niagara-on-the-Lake Christmas Parade. This is another very well attended event as families line the streets of the town to watch the parade of more than 100 floats pass by. I and my wife are volunteers, helping to marshall crowds and to get floats in the correct order. After this event, we usually have a well-earned drink at the local Legion.

December 15th is the date for another event – the Rotary Christmas Choral. Organised by NOTL Rotary, a collection of a dozen choirs will be on stage at the Shaw Festival Theatre in NOTL. Now in it’s 13th year, it has become another fixture on the NOTL calendar.

With all of this going on, who has time to go away?!

If you would like to be part of this great community and are considering moving to the Niagara on the Lake area, please contact me and I will be happy to help you.

Niagara Real Estate – Fall is here!

Fall can be a beautiful time of year here in the Niagara area as the leaves turn from rich green to a mottled mix of yellows, browns and reds. As they fall, I have to give thought to the clearing up of my yard. I am fortune (so might say unfortunate) to have a half acre lot, much of which is woodland so the quantity of leaves that need to be cleared can be a bit overwhelming.


As the temperatures drop and we have a few wet and gray days, the number of outside events tails off a little and we start to see more indoor activities getting organised.

On Thursday evening, there was an Art and Writing event at the Niagara on the Lake Heritage Museum. This was the first time for this event and as it was organised by some good friends of ours, my wife and I went along. There was cheese and wine, deserts and coffee. We were treated to readings from a number of local writers who had written Halloween related works and there was a small display of local artist’s work. The event was well attended with around 100 guests.

Saturday evening, we met some friends at The Old Winery – a really nice local restaurant – and had a great meal. In the bar area, they usually have live entertainment and this Saturday was no exception. We sat there and enjoyed a few drinks while The Niagara Rhythm Section played and they had a guest harmonica player who was absolutely amazing! Before we knew it, it was midnight and the band was playing their finale. A very enjoyable evening.



We got up early on Sunday for a day visit to Toronto. It was a bright and sunny day and we were meeting friends at The Beaches for Brunch. We love that area of Toronto and at only a 90 minute drive from NOTL, it is easy to visit for brunch! Afterwards, we drove into downtown and lined up to see the new Toronto Aquarium. The crowd was large and the line-up was about half an hour long but it was worth the wait. The aquarium is amazing and it was great to wander through the complex with so much to see. The tanks are incredible with fish and other sea life swimming overhead as you pass through glass tunnels. The displays are very informative and the whole place is well designed. We will be back!

Toronto Aquarium

After leaving the aquarium, we went for a drink at the Steamwhistle Brewery across the street – the former railway roundhouse and turntable converted to a brewery still has a fine collection of railway locomotives to see.

Steam engine Steamwhistle

We left the downtown area and went to our friends for a great dinner before heading back to St Davids in Niagara. Once again, a great weekend.


Niagara Homes – Dining Options Niagara

I don’t about you but one of my favorite pleasures in life is great food! Whether it’s something that is lovingly prepared and enjoyed at home or beautifully laid out before me at a restaurant.

Niagara on the lake Real Estate - NOTL real estate | Riverbend

One of the many great benefits of living in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area is the generous selection of fine eating establishments. Quite a few in NOTL itself are at the higher price range but fine dining with great wine never comes cheap! One of the most beautiful settings for fine dining, in my opinion, is The Riverbend. This grand Georgian style mansion boasts a great location along the Niagara Parkway and beautiful views across the vineyards to the rear. I was fortunate enough to win a dinner coupon for Riverbend recently and plan to return very soon!

Niagara on the Lake Real Estate - NOTL real estate | Ravine Vineyard

Quite a few of the wineries have excellent restaurants and another favorite is Ravine Vineyard at St David’s. This one has the added benefit of being located about one mile from my home. Peller Estates has a great restaurant too and we dined here a few months ago with the social club we belong to during the Fabulicious This is when many of the local restaurants offer a very reasonable fixed price food and drink package for a limited period of time. It encourages people who might not usually visit the higher end restaurants due to price, to give them a try.

Niagara on the Lake Real Estate | NOTL real estate | Food

On the subject of price, sometimes I just want good quality, tasty food that is inexpensive. This means I can eat out more often which is a good thing. A great example is the Zooma Zooma Café in Jordan. Great food,  great price, live music occasionally, lovely patio, friendly service.

The other night, we decided to eat at home but get a good takeout. There is a great Mexican up the road from home called Frijolies. Their  home made hot sauces are VERY HOT and all their food is freshly prepared.

Having written this article, I am now feeling pretty hungry so it is time to hunt out somewhere to eat tonight. I will let you know how it goes!

If you would like to move to the area and experience the many dining options this region has to offer, get in touch with me, Kevin Stokes, at my Niagara Homes office.

Niagara Homes – Getting to know the neighbourhood

So, you have made the decision and moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake or St. Davids, Queenston, Virgil or one of the other numerous towns and villages in the Niagara region.

How are you going to ‘settle in’ to your new surroundings and become part of the community?

Three tips on getting to know your new neighbourhood

When you’ve just moved into the neighbourhood you can feel a bit isolated at first. 

Here are three tips on getting to know the neighbourhood.

1. Check the local papers

You may get a free paper delivered, and in some areas there may even be more than one. In Niagara on the Lake, there is the Niagara Advance and also the Town Crier. Most of them have their own web sites too. Have a look at the local issues, news and upcoming events. Often it gives a sense of the community feel. There are often references to local groups and clubs you can join.

NOTL real estate - kevin stokes - map

2. Check the bulletin boards

Find the local community centre (Niagara-on-the-Lake has a beautiful new community centre),library, recreation centre or pool. There you will find bulletin boards on classes and events in the area.
And check the notice boards at the local coffee shops. Here you will see what’s going on locally.
3. Check in with social media

There are a host of social media sites like Yelp, Urban Spoon and NOTL Chamber of Commerce and there you can find tips and reviews on local eateries and services. You can connect via these media to others in the area too.

Of course, there is also lots of information on my website,

You should find it easy to settle in this welcoming community.