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Collingwood sales reps Read Hilton and Gail Crawford hit the road in mobile office | REM





Read Hilton says that a typical morning often involves running down the driveway after his business partner and fiancée, Gail Crawford, shouting, “Gail, you forgot your phone!”

Hilton is the organized one in this duo, the source of many leads and much outside-the-box marketing. Crawford is the creative and tenacious salesperson, according to Hilton.

“I’m more anal and detail oriented,” he says.

“I’m more fun,” responds Crawford.

As a two-member team with Chestnut Park Real Estate’s office in Collingwood, Ont., in the picturesque southern Georgian Bay region, their combined skill sets have helped steer them to success, as evidenced by their sales record and their awards for outstanding performance.

“We both work hard to stay up to speed and ahead of the technology curve, and we strive to market uniquely,” says Hilton.

What really sets this diverse pair apart is their unique mobile office, Hilton’s black 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s tricked out with everything from a Wi-Fi device under the steering wheel to a police-style laptop stand/shelf bolted into the floor of the vehicle, not to mention a CB radio (for updates on the weather and accidents) and multiple outlets. It’s also possible to bring a remote printer into the car.

Gail Crawford checks out some listing information in the mobile office.
Gail Crawford checks out some listing information in the mobile office.

Thanks to this mobile setup (the result of six months of research and about $1,200 worth of retrofitting), Hilton and Crawford are able to pull over and “search out properties with a buyer on their Wi-Fi enabled laptop, then do the offer in the vehicle and have them DocuSign it on their mobile device, right then and there in the back seat of the Jeep, and then send it off to the listing agent,” says Hilton.

“Realtors tend to be tied to their desks, always waiting for something, signing something. We’re not,” says Crawford.

They recently completed an offer in 15 minutes in the driveway of the house for sale.

Says Hilton: “Here I am, 70-years-old, and as far as I know we are the only agents in the area who can do this. We are driving half the day to sales calls. It’s big geography that we cover. We wanted not to be tied to our home office – to be able to do an offer right in the vehicle. We see that clients want immediate action…

“What I’ve done in the Jeep is very unusual. The Bell-connected device comes with a separate cell phone number, so we get Wi-Fi in the vehicle, where most other people just use their cell phone, which is limited in what it can do.” (He says that some newer vehicles do now come equipped with Wi-Fi.)

Hilton has had his Jeep rigged up this way for about seven months. And even though the computer stand takes up so much room that no one can sit in the passenger seat, he’s thrilled with pretty much everything about the retrofit.  However, he’s found it can give surrounding drivers quite a shock as they often mistake his vehicle for a police car.

“It does make other drivers slow down, that’s for sure,” he says with a laugh.

Hilton’s background is in sales for construction-related companies servicing the new home building markets. He also has a long-standing, part-time sales job as membership manager of Beaver Valley, a local private ski club. (There are several private ski clubs in the region, as well as the public Blue Mountain Resort, one of the largest resorts in Ontario and a major destination for southern Ontario skiers.)

Hilton’s part-time membership sales position, thanks to all the families he comes into contact with as a result, has fortuitously been a bountiful source of real estate leads throughout his eight years as a Realtor.

Crawford was a mortgage broker for many years and says she came to Collingwood for a weekend long ago “and never went home” to Toronto.

Like Hilton, she also has another job – she’s the owner of Maid in Collingwood, an established residential cleaning business. With that company running smoothly and covered off by an effective manager, Crawford says she is free to spend the majority of her time working in real estate.

As fate would have it, both Crawford and Hilton initially moved to the area with other partners. (“My boyfriend bought a timeshare here and dumped me. I never got to use it,” Crawford jokes.)

Crawford says she wasn’t especially athletic – in fact not at all apparently – when she met Hilton a decade ago. He convinced her to take up skiing. It worked out well; over time they’ve noticed that everyone wants to talk real estate on the chair lift. Together they’ve made the most of all the activities in their popular recreational region ever since, including tennis, hiking and biking.

Having established a niche market, a big portion of their clientele is young families from Toronto and other communities in widespread neighbouring vicinities looking for a ski chalet, a rural country property, or a cottage on nearby Lake Eugenia. Crawford also helps the 55+ demographic, who may be retiring from skiing and are in search of a retirement home close to small-town amenities.

Besides numerous recreational offerings, the Collingwood area has “beautiful restaurants, all sorts of little boutique shops, and is not far from Wasaga Beach,” says Crawford. “There is tons of new building. Whatever anyone could want is here.”

Crawford and Hilton say the listing-to-sales ratio in the community is low right now, so everybody is “fighting like mad” for listings.

Area agents better be on their toes. Chestnut Park’s Read Hilton and Gail Crawford Team and their cool mobile office could be beating you to the finish line.


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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