Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Crafts: DIY Wreath, Holiday Baskets, Homemade Granola, Yearly Ornaments

Ok, I should be doing 10000 things other than blogging right now, but I always do these things, take all the pictures and then never blog about it...so here is a short and sweet and picture filled blog post with what I have been up to the past couple of weeks!


I bought a twig wreath from Michaels

Bought some pinecones and ribbon from target, pine boughs and berries from a flower store
 Moseby tried to eat EVERYTHING

 I placed everything to figure out the way I wanted to look

 I started glueing the boughs, and using some ornament ties. I created a layered look to hide the glue.

I added the berries by tucking them into the twig wreath with ornament metal thingies

I added pinecones on top to cover the metal clips

I made a bow out of the wreath by wrapping it around a piece of cardboard 3 times, and tying it together with another piece of ribbon
 Tadaaa: Finished product!

Time spent: 1 hr, Money spent ~25 bucks. 


After realizing that holiday baskets cost a million dollars I made my own. 

I bought the pinecone sticks, the birch stick and the red berries. I then stole used downed branches and sticks from a local park and busted out the spray paint. Guys, I was so excited to spray paint, you don't even know. I now have a spray paint tarp and everything. 

I then bought some dollar store planters, and some sand and stuck everything in the sand. Pretty darn simple. 

I also added the same stolen  found branches to decorate the stairwell. I added red balls to the bannister, and ice lights. I also went to the dollar store and bought GIANT Christmas ornaments and hung them all over the tree.

So Christmas-y!

Time spent ~2 hrs, money spent ~$75 (for two baskets, and outdoor decorations)


I made granola for a few gifts based on the recipe from Elizabeth Ryder's website with a few changes: 

2 cups raw oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 tbsp unsweeted coconut
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Mix together, and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 

I bought some green mason jars and labels and ribbon and dolled up my jars. Moseby helped.

Time spent ~1hr, Money spent, same as normal baking, add a few jars


Since we moved to Toronto I have started making yearly ornaments using sharpies, paint, and sticky letters to document big things that happened in the year. 

2011- Move to Toronto
2012- Trip to Paris (bought this one, added the 2012)
2013- Got Tesla, went to Vegas, did Triathlons/duathalons
2014- Got engaged and bought our first house!  

This year I couldn't find a plan coloured ornament, so I did the painted ornament technique with a clear one. Basically dumped in some paint and water, and swirled it around to cover the inside. It turned out nice and blue! I let it dry over night, and then added the date and drawing. 

Time spent <15 mins per ornament, Money spent <5 dollars per ornament..but the memories are priceless...d'awwww.

I blogged about this before in more detail back in 2011.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Other holiday posts:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Merry Fitness! Workout Ideas From Me to You!

As mentioned in the last post I'm doing a fitness advent calendar for the month of December!
Day 2!

As promised (although it is one day late) here is a sample of exercises for each type of workout:


Pretty self explanatory.
  • Hot Yoga (Bikram)
  • Yoga (Goodlife)
  • Body Flow (goodlife)- Mixture of Tai Chi, Pilates, and Yoga
  • At home yoga workout (like this)


For strength workouts, I will probably do a set full body workout or do upper body and abs, or lower body and abs. I will include a warm up and cool down if required. 


Mixture of light weights and cardio, I will include a warm up/cool down. 
30 seconds of each exercise
For 45 min workout complete 5 min warm up, 2x 3 sets, 4 min cool down/stretch

Set 1
Dumbbell row in held lunge
Alternating side lunge with reverse flye
Dive bomber pushup (Downward dog to pushup)
C-2 min
Jump jack/squat/side touch ground
Mountain climbers
A-1 min
Windshield wipers
Hands and Knees leg extension
Set 2
Wood chops
Plank with row
Sumo squat with shoulder press
C-2 min
Knee Runs
A-1 min
Russian Twists
Set 3
Medicine ball alternating pushup
Single leg dip with arm curl
C-2 min
Skis/split jump
A-1 min


Cardio can be tough this time of year, here are some options, I'm going to include a stretch/cooldown after. 
  • Fitness Dance Classes-Zumba, Body Jam,Sh'Bam (Goodlife)
  • Body Attack/Body Combat (Goodlife)
  • Spin Class
  • Treadmill interval run
    • 5 min warm up
    • 1 min 6
    • 1 min 7 
    • 1 min 6
    • 1 min 8
    • 1 min 6 
    • 1 min 9
    • Repeat runs until tired (Alternatively Run to random music, and adjust the speed to match the song. Great sample: "That power", slow for the JB part, and fast for the will.i.Am part.) 
  • Cardio "Tri" Circuit (20 mins Elliptical, 20 Minutes Bike, 20 mins Run)
  • Hill Treadmill workout
  • Swimming, Skating, Dancing, Running, Soccer etc. (Any Cardio outside the gym)

Active Rest Day

On the Active Rest Days I'm going to try to at least get 10,000 steps from walking. Alternatively, this could also include a very easy stretch/yoga routine. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fitness Recap and a Workout Advent Calendar

I haven’t posted about fitness in a while, so of course, the recap. Scroll down to the bottom for the printable calendar.

This summer I did the 60 classes in 90 day hot yoga challenge at the studio I go to. It was good and bad all at the same time. Positives were that it was nice to not have to think of when or where or how I was going to work out, I just had to show up at certain times and do the moves. It was also nice to not have to worry about caloric intake all summer. Doing that much yoga balances even the most delicious food truck food. I didn’t really lose any weight but my body fat did drop over the challenge and has stayed relatively the same since (I have stopped tracking anything seriously as I know I am in a healthy range for stuff). I also was one of the 12 people who actually completed the challenge. Wahoo!

Camel Pose, 1/2 way class of the challenge

Some of the negatives were that I got kind of sick of yoga. Don’t get me wrong I still love it, but going every single day near the end, plus doing a lot of double classes made me want a few new moves thrown into the standard series. I also found that my practice didn’t improve that much because I was often so exhausted that I wasn’t willing to push myself past my comfort zone. It also took a heck of a lot of time, and wasn’t as fulfilling as finishing training and then doing a race. There was no real finish line, just a check box. Triathlon training was way more rewarding for me.

The end of the challenge I needed a yoga break and the timing coincided with moving, and starting tutoring again. Life got busy. I switched my focus to exercises I could do on my own time, especially running as I did the 5 km Electro Dash (in early September). 
Dance PARTY before the 5km
It was during a MAJOR thunderstorm, so I think the race was cut short, if not, I ran a ridiculously fast time. In general though I did way better for it than expected, especially considering I did ran twice in the 3 month period leading up to it. I wasn’t a huge fan of Electro Dash, it didn’t seem worth the registration costs, but that could have been due to the storm. I will stick with Mud Hero!

Yoga definitely helped with my cardio, and doing HIIT running intervals over the winter has allowed me to get my speed up. I hit my first under 30 min 5km treadmill right before during a training run for the next race. 

The training was for the 5 km in the Scotia Bank Water Front Marathon. I realized this was my first official timed 5 km race, which is funny to think about all the other events I have done over the past few years. 
5km 1st wave start
As mentioned in my last post, it was the morning after a wedding, so I was motivated by the thought of coffee and food at the end of the race. That allowed me to finish in 27:16, which is pretty good considering 4 years ago a 5km run wasn't even possible, let alone a sub 30 min 5 km. 

Considering doing a 5 km seems pretty manageable now, I would like to try a 10 km at some point once I get over my hatred of running more than 30 minutes. The hatred of running unfortunately spread over to most fitness related things for the past few months. I back to loving yoga again, but can only go once in a while due to scheduling. I tried to fit in outside stuff while the weather was  still warm like hiking. 

Ohhh heyy Bruce Trail

Since it got colder, I have been doing a variety of stuff at the gym, but it is a struggle to motivate myself to go. Unless it is a dance class, then I love going. I have started playing soccer again, which is a great way to fit in exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. And I am walking a ton, which is great, but I’m definitely not doing 4-5x a week like I was for the past year or so.

I need motivation to get me through for a few more months (then I will have “I have to fit into a wedding dress motivation”). This is always the hardest time of year for me to be motivated for anything especially working out. So the WORKOUT ADVENT CALENDAR WAS BORN.

24 exercises, 25 days. Go. There is no order, so if I want to have 4 active rest days right now I can, but that would be foolish. I’m aiming to do at least 45 minutes of exercising per session. I’ll come back on Monday with a post about some suggestions for each type of workout. It is short comparatively to the 12 week fitness and food tracking I did in the spring, and the 90 day Yoga challenge, but I feel like this one is going to be tricky to do! We will see how it goes!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How Two Engineering Grads Install Shelves

You may be wondering why installing shelves merits a blog post (especially since I was MIA for the past 6 weeks). Well shelves take a larger amount of effort than anticipated...(scroll down to the bottom for shelf bit, I had to do a life update first.)

Backing up a bit, we moved in to our house at the end of September.

It was bittersweet saying good bye to the condo, but we were definitely ready to move into our house. Looking back Mike and I both feel that our summer was non-existent due to the whole house hunting process, so we anxious to feel settled again.


Goodbye Condo!

We had a house warming party the last warm weekend of September and got to enjoy the back yard. 
Housewarming Party!
As I sit writing this post on a drizzly (albeit warm) grey November day, I am already looking forward to spring.

After that October was a blur. We had jam packed weekends full of birthday celebrations for friends, last minute thanksgiving, a wedding, a 5km run (the day after the wedding...not the best), visits from old friends and a visit from my family! Whew. (oh yah, and work, tutoring etc.) It the midst of all that we managed to get some wedding "milestones" done, and started to put our house together.

One of the tasks we knew we needed ASAP were curtains and blinds. We had those up Thankgiving weekend. Notice the curtains? They were the ones from this post, where I dyed cheap Ikea curtains the right colour. I had them up in my condo for about 1 week before they fell down and I had them in a box since then. Finally they get their rightful place!

Yay curtains!

While we were at IKEA getting curtains we got some shelving for our kitchen. Our inspiration was something like this:
Oh Ikea...I lurve you. (The pot set is 59.99, shelving was around $20)

We then got distracted from installing the shelving until 2 weeks ago, when we tried to install them late on a Saturday night. Mike and I are both engineering grads. We are "smart people". We got this. We figured we would have the shelves up in less than an hour.

We used our handy dandy stud finder, and marked where we would install them. After drilling in a few (ahem...8) test holes we realized that our shelves were about 3 mm too short to be placed on studs on both sides. So then we had to go and buy wall anchors the next day. Time spent: 1 hour to realize this.  Geniusous right here.

There are 9 million different types of wall anchors depending what the shelf is being installed into. After a heated discussion about shear forces and loading weights Mike and I settled on a giant tub of EZ anchors for drywall (#8).
We headed home with plans to install the shelves that evening after Mike got back from a Bike ride. Well, Mike got into an accident on that bike ride, and we spent the evening at the ER. He is fine, (pulled muscle in his shoulder), but obviously this meant no shelves were installed.

FINALLY, 2 weeks later after Mike was able to lift his arm, we got around to putting up the shelves (and patching up the test holes).


Material Needed:
EZ Wall Anchors (or equivalent)
Measuring tape
An assistant who can lift his/her arm
Electric Drill (recommended)
Stuff to put on the shelf

Putty Knife

<1 hour once you know what you are doing, 2 weeks otherwise

1. Assemble the shelves, and use a level to figure out where they are going to go on the wall.

2. Mark where you are going to drill. Try to line this up with a stud.
3. Drill pilot holes, you will need these if using the wall anchors, but also benefits in determining if you have hit a stud.

4. Install wall anchors.
5. Align shelf again, double check level again. Screw shelf into pilot holes/anchors.

6. Measure location of second shelf, repeat steps 2-5.
7. Decorate the shelf.

Those jars won't say empty for long!
If you make any bad pilot holes, no worries! We used a small amount of spackle/putty and a putty knife to fix the holes. I took a lightly damp cloth to wash away the excess, and you can't even tell the hole was there!

Even though this was a slap of reality that simple tasks aren't really that simple, it made us more savy for future bigger renovations. Since we have no tools/supplies etc. we really need to plan out our actions, and make sure we have the required materials. On to the next project!

(Disclaimer, I have no affiliation with any of the products used in this blog, my blog isn't legit enough for that...yet)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Matrimony Monday: I Am Not a Bride

I’m over 9 months into this wedding planning business, and things are moving along. A few logistical kerfuffle’s here and there, but overall things are barrelling ahead. But at some point in the past few weeks I’ve realized something. I don’t think I am a bride.

Hold on, don’t panic Mike, parents, or future inlaws, I am totally and 100% ready to be Mike’s wife. But this whole bride stage is freaking me out. I know by definition my role in all this is to be a bride, but in the traditional way of looking at weddings, being the bride doesn’t quite suit me.

Lets back up a bit. As a kid, I remember planning a school “wedding” in grade 1. Did anyone else do this? Basically the boy would get pestered enough to “marry” the girl (my mom will tell you that my “wedding” got out of hand, and there may have been a “minister”, dresses and suits and rings and flowers involved. I’m sure in some cultures, I may actually be married to that guy haha). And the funny thing is, I’m sure little 6 year old me felt more like a bride than I do now, as an actual bride-to-be.

The wedding industry complex has put a certain pedestal around being a bride. The whole 86 Billion Dollar industry is built on it, in fact if you look at 95% of wedding marketing, the groom doesn’t even have to exist, and to me that is ridiculous. But advertisers play this up. The minute Mike and I got engaged my facebook was filled with “you are engaged, come look at this wedding related thing”, whereas Mike’s was still filled with advertisements based on his occupation and interests.

To the “industry”, I stopped being “Kaylee: Civil Engineering Grad, Full Time Engineering worker, Math Tutorer, Triathlon and Hot Yoga Doer, Part time blogger, Bike Commuter, Veggie Eater, Toronto Liver, Cat owner, Candle Stick maker” to being “Kaylee: Bride.” Along with the other 25K+ brides each year. Thanks wedding industry, I am now part of the collective. And even for alternative, unique wedding websites/planning etc. you are still “Bride”. You may be “Hipster Bride” or “Traditional Bride” or “City Hall Bride”, but deep down, you are “a bride”. Poor Barbie, now I know how she feels.
Ironically, I actually do really like this dress! Source

And with this label, comes an expectation of ways to feel. You (and only you, not the groom), are expected to decide every little detail of the wedding, and not with logic, but with EMOTION! (Fun fact, I do not care AT ALL how my bridesmaids do their hair, but this is something I "should" care about). You are expected to get bridal privileges of making requests/demands because it is “your day” (not to be confused with Bridezillas, but one step below that is still considered completely acceptable, which can still fall in the range of acting like a princess). And you are supposed to invest (time and money) every waking minute into picking, and falling in love with your dress.

And this brings us back to the reason of this post. I am in the middle of dress shopping, and I feel that no matter what dress I try on I will feel like I am playing dress up….because I don’t feel like a bride! I don’t think I will ever have that emotional reaction to a dress, but the industry has made us believe, thanks to the tv shows, that the moment has to happen. When in reality most of the people I have talked to have said it doesn’t.

I don’t feel like a bride, I feel like a girly, who is trying to plan a function (and that part I love), to sign a legal document to marry Mike, commit in our families’ religion(s), and then have a big party. As another friend of mine said “all I want is for my wedding to be surrounded by people I love and who love me, being happy for me that I'm marrying someone I love”.

And technically that could be done wearing a paper bag.

Dragon's are totally invited to my wedding. Source
Post Script: If when you got engaged, or when you do get engaged, you are the most excited about being part of all the “bride” glory…that is totally ok!! You are the normal one, I am the weird one, and I don’t want this to come across as me saying my opinion is better/worse…it’s just how I feel! In fact I’m jealous!! It would make this whole wedding planning thing a lot easier if I could just dive fully into being a bride!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How we Bought our First House in Toronto in a Sellers Market-The Close

(Disclaimer, I am not an expert on this! This post is solely based on our own experiences, talk to Real Estate Agents, Banks, Lawyers, Mortgage Brokers etc. for information and advice specific for your needs.)

Part 3: The Close

Or the period where you spend all your money and sign a lot of papers. 

In the last post we had our offer accepted and we had BOUGHT A HOUSE! Immediately after signing the offer, things started rolling.
The Money:
For the deposit, within 24 hours of our offer being accepted we had to drop off a certified cheque for 5% of the purchase price. Luckily we were expecting this, so we had that money in “cash”, not stuck in TFSAs or RRSPs. I can imagine though this may be a surprise to some people, so it is good to note. We both went to our banks and took out half the deposit each (note to bring an ID). Our realtor, Rory was great and he ran around the city to our work places to pick up the cheques and drop them off with the seller’s agent. Lesson Learned, the first chunk of money is hard to part with.
Next came collecting the rest of the down payment from the various accounts. First of all, be careful with work retirement savings accounts. As much as they are great, I learned the hard way that not all of it can be accessed until you leave the company, so a large chuck of savings I thought I could use are actually “locked” in. That wasn’t a fun surprise. Lesson learned would be to call the work savings plan company earlier in the process to get an idea of how withdrawals can be made.
Same to be said with any RRSPs. Under the Canadian Home Buyer Plan, up to 25K can be withdrawn for a home purchase. Things to note are that you need to fill out and submit this form, and only money deposited 90 days before the withdrawal can be taken out. Also important to note is that this is a “loan” to yourself and the money has to be paid back in over the next 15 years, starting 2 years from the withdrawal, so we had to make sure our budget still had room for RRSP savings. I worked with the RRSP accounts to determine the best day to withdraw the money to maximize the withdrawal.
I was a little OCD with this and tracked every penny as it moved from one account to another, and was constantly running numbers to make sure we would have enough on August 29th to pay the down payment and all the closing costs, and still be able to buy groceries (spoiler alert, we were totally fine, but I still lost sleep over it).
The Mortgage:
During this time we worked less with realtor and more with the Mortgage broker. We had to prove that we had the full down payment amount in our account, and get her all the paper work. Even though we were pre approved, more documentation was needed, but it wasn’t too bad. At this point we knew our rate and our monthly payment and could double (quadruple) check our monthly expenses. I won’t get into how to get the best rate, or the difference between all the mortgages/terms are, because a lot of way better websites do that...like this one. Once again for us it just meant reading through it, asking questions, and then making a decision that suited our lives.
Our mortgage provider didn’t require an appraisal, but keep that in mind if you have no conditions on financing, the bank might not agree on the value of the house, and may not finance the entire mortgage. Something to consider if we had gone way over value for the house (note that over asking, does not necessarily mean over value.), so we made sure our house was of good value comparable to the others in the neighborhood.
The Lawyer:
We got our lawyer as he was referenced by our realtor, and because he specialized in real estate law and was located conveniently. We were bad and didn’t get a quote, but trusted our realtor. Everything worked out fine, but lesson learned would be to get a quote first. The lawyer basically takes care of collecting the down payment, land transfer tax, and other fees and in turn gives you the keys to the house. More details here about what the lawyer does. The lawyer also requires proof of home insurance, and mortgage info.
A few days before closing the lawyer sent us the expenses, and we went to the bank and got a certified cheque of the remainder of the down payment and closing costs. Our estimated closing costs were between 1-2%, and it was around the 1% in reality (we didn’t have CHMC insurance, and we didn’t buy a new construction home so there may be additional taxes on top of that for other buyers), so keep that in mind when buying the house. It depends on the complexity of the deal. 
We met with our lawyer the day before closing to sign all the paper work (we had to consider things like Joint Holding Tenants vs Tenancy in Common). The lawyer also sent the information to the city for the transfer of utilities and property tax, but not all lawyers do (note that a transfer fee is applied on the first bill).
Other stuff:
Home insurance- this needs to be done before the documents are signed at the lawyers office, we did it the same week as closing, but we should have/could have done it right after the offer was approved.
Life insurance- we are getting this vs Mortgage insurance (that protects the bank, life insurance protects each other), Life insurance takes a while to be processed, and we forgot to double check our work plans so we had a few steps back before we got everything finalized. Lesson learned, I would have started this process right after we had our offer accepted.
Utilities- As mentioned the Toronto stuff should automatically be transferred but check with your lawyer, the fee is 51 dollars if both are transferred at once. A good suggestion was to check the water meter on the day of possession.
Power- Luckily for us we were just transferring from one address to another with Toronto Hydro, so it was very easy (a few clicks on a website).
Gas- Since we are a new account, we need to pay the deposit, and set up an account for them to transfer the meter over. A good suggestion was to check the reading on the day you take possession to make sure you are charged correctly.
Viewings- We had agreed on 2 viewings of the house before closing, but only really needed one due to the short closing time, so we went with our realtor 2 days before closing to make sure everything was ok.
(Don’t forget about the more optional utilities such as phone/cable/internet, and all the other moving stuff such as change of address etc. perhaps I’ll do a moving post at some point!).
After all that commotion, we finally had our house!! YAY! We are currently moved in and unpacking, and getting settled into the new routine and ever growing to do list of home ownership!

If I have forgotten anything about the process please add in comments below!!  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How we Bought our First House in Toronto in a Sellers Market-The Hunt

(Disclaimer, I am not an expert on this! This post is solely based on our own experiences, talk to Real Estate Agents, Banks, Lawyers, Mortgage Brokers etc. for information and advice specific for your needs.)...

Part 2- The Hunt

As detailed in our last post we spent almost 3 years planning to buy a house, starting with boring things like bank meetings and saving money, to fun things looking at houses and neighbourhoods. After we had narrowed down our options, we met with a realtor in April of this year to get real about the home search.

..Side note, these posts are coming across like it was all happy rainbows and unicorns and sunshine. To be honest, I was nervous about every step of the process. I was (still am) fully aware of the responsibilities of owning a home, and no matter how long we waited I would always feel nervous…but Mike on the other hand was super excited about everything so we balanced each other out. So with the first “real meeting” with the realtor, I was a nervous wreck, since this made it seem so much more legit…

Get a Realtor:
We used the same realtor, Rory Armstrong, who helped us find an apartment. We chose him because he wasn’t pushy, very laid back, and listened to what we wanted. We also liked that he always was quick with getting back to us, and answered our 100000 questions. Realtor’s are typically free for the buyer, so why not!! We signed a contract with the Rory (fairly straightforward), and started our home search on Easter weekend with my parents in tow (they were visiting from NB at the time). Lesson learned: east coast parents will be shocked by prices of Toronto houses.

Know the Market:
Even though we had looked at houses for fun, actually analysing the market was a whole other story. I signed up for sold listings through zoocasa.ca to see what the houses we viewed sold for, even if we weren’t interested. Some (aka Mike) may have called me obsessed with this email. Almost every house we looked at sold for over asking, except for the ones that were tear downs. Most houses were listed lower than value to drive up a bidding war. The market might have cooled slightly from last year, but for the price range we were looking at it was still a sellers market with every house going into multiple bid situations (aka a bidding war dunn dunn dunnnn). This makes house buying so much fun (sarcasm font).

Get the Stuff together:
Shortly into the process, we found house we liked! It was a big old semi detached with lots of character and funky paint colours.
First fav house...pink walls and all!
As we were driving home from the showing discussing if we should make an offer the next day, Rory called and told us that a bully offer had been made, 3 hours after the house was on the market, and then the bids were pushed up to be due 12 hours later.  Not enough time to get our stuff together, but it made us realize that we had to get all of our stuff together for the next potential house. That is where we got involved with a Mortgage Broker (referenced by our realtor) to get a mortgage. Once again this is a free services (typically paid by the lendor) so why not. We started providing her a ton of paper work (tax files, income statements etc.) so that she could get our pre-approval.

The War:
From April until July we saw a lot of houses, I can’t remember the exact number but I bet it was close to 50. A good house hunting check list is located here, but items that stood out to me were check the electrical panel, check the attic if possible, turn on taps and lights and open windows/doors, and check to make sure car can fit down the drive way if it is back parking space.

We saw some good ideas while we were house hunting:

Gorgeous backyard and screened in porch!

Nice beadboard!

Renovated bungalow...too fancy for us, but I loved the fireplace

I loved this floor and the cabinets!
We also saw some interesting stuff:

Funky built in murphy bed

This house had an intense security system...we are thinking just for this!
This house looked like a castle!

Worst kitchen ever, looked nice but the counters were too high, and the electrical panel was built into the COUNTER
Other exciting things we found, an empty house except for a jar of pickles in the basement (same room lead to this picture!), "central" air conditioning, a house full of mold with a creepy back yard, and LOTS of wood panelling!

We put in 3 failed offers in multiple bid situations that all sold way above our budget. This was a time consuming and stressful period. For each of those offers, I would be anxious all day waiting to see if we got the house or not. Lesson learned here was to not get too attached to a house. Mike and I are fairly logical people, so we stuck to our budget. Even if we really loved the house, we couldn’t go higher just because of emotions.

Because most of the houses went 15% over budget, we started looking at cheaper houses, so that in a bidding war situation we would be able to actually put in a fair bid.

The Offer and Conditions:
If you google “how to buy your first home” you will see a lot of great tips, however, those articles are not written for a multiple bid situation. For example, having your own home inspection is “required” by those articles, but in a bidding war, typically the inspection is provided to all bidders to try to limit the number of conditions at closing. For us to mitigate the risk of the home inspection missing something, we didn’t ever go to the top of our budget. That would allow us to have some savings left over for any “surprises” after we bought a house. Also, with our backgrounds in engineering, and a little bit of research we learned how to identify big problems such as mixed wiring, and potential asbestos, roof problems etc. And when we were given the home inspection we read it cover to cover to identify any issues.

In this market and for our budget, we quickly realized that every house was going to have some sort of issues (one we put an offer in smelled so bad of smoke, you could smell it outside the house), but as long as we budgeted for them we would be ok. We did our research on costs of repair (ie knob and tube wiring can cost up to 12K to fix, getting smoke out would require new paint, and new floors) and made decisions on how much to offer based on the repairs we would need to do.

We also tried to make our closing date as early as possible (30 days) to allow for a quick close, but we had to consider moving times, and giving 2 months notice for our apartment.

The Winner:
On July 26th, after a string of no luck with showings, we had a particularly good day. 2 out of the 3 houses were what we were looking for, and one was at the low end of our budget. We decided to put in the offer on the lower cost one, a tiny renovated bungalow, with income potential, and amazing back yard. Our realtor ran the comparables, and recommended a competitive price range. It was over asking because the house had been priced low to get attention for a bidding war. We went just slightly over the mid range of comparable prices.

The offers were due late on Thursday night (31st). This bid needed the offers presented in person by the realtor, and that required a hard copy signature (vs email like the previous houses we had bid on)…and of course after being relatively free all summer that night I had something I had to go to. Luckily it was in the same area as the house, so this was a bit chaotic having the realtor drive back and forth to get me to sign the papers. Mike waited at the house, and about 15 mins after the bid was submitted, the seller’s agent came out to tell him and Rory that we had got the house. Apparently the bids were close, but we were slightly over with a quick closing date so we were the winners.
I got the phone call around 9 that night, and was picked up to go sign some final papers and meet the sellers. They were a young(ish) couple moving out to Mississauga to be closer to work, and had done most of the renovations themselves in the 4 years they had lived there. Seemed like nice people! Lesson learned though: You don’t need the actually certified cheque for the deposit at the offer, but you need to bring a normal cheque for the deposit “for good standing”. This we didn’t know which meant a waste of driving back to the apartment to get the cheque.

Overall for this period, my lessons learned would be to be prepared to make an offer at any point by having a pre approved mortgage, and enough money in your account for at least a deposit (5%); be prepared to be patient; understand the flaws of the house; and stick to your budget and must have list.

This phase was emotionally stressful, but luckily is basically free! Other than an inspection (if needed), and of course gas and time, no money is spent during this time. That all happens next, in the closing period.

Next Post: The Close (or where you spend all your money!)