How to avoid vacation rental scams

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Home sharing websites like AirBnB are great for getting the most out of your vacation. Home sharing often saves a lot of money compared to similar lodging arrangements at hotels, and it gives you an opportunity to be part of a new neighborhood during your stay.

The downside is that there’s a bigger chance of encountering a scam. No one wants to have their vacation ruined by a fake rental listing, so here are a few easy tips to avoid scams.

Be skeptical of photos: If a property’s photos look a little too good, ask for additional photos. Photoshop and photography expertise can hide a lot of warts.

Only book with a credit card: Scammers prefer to operate with cash. You have a better chance of recovering your money if you only book with credit cards through trusted sites like

Read the reviews: Sites like AirBNB and VRBO have customer reviews for each property. Read them to ensure that the rental is as good it seems—or that it even exists in the first place.

If you’re selling, improving your curb appeal can make a huge difference!



Curb appeal is a big factor for home buyers. The exterior of your home is the first thing buyers will see when they come to a showing or open house, and you want to make a great first impression. And even if you’re not selling your home, these are low-cost, low-time investment fixes that can make a big difference.

Fix landscaping eyesores
A brown, dead lawn—or an overgrown one—isn’t the best way to welcome buyers to your home. If your lawn is in need of repair, consider watering it regularly. If your grass is healthy, keep the lawn freshly mowed. An appealing lawn can be worth more than $1,500 in the final price of your home.

Shutters and siding
It’s easy to let your exterior walls fall into disrepair, or even to let them get a little dirty. A good scrubbing or power washing can make your siding look brand new, and you can touch up any major issues with some paint. The same goes for your shutters.

Add some living accents
So far we’ve covered fixing what’s broken. Next, it’s time to add a little personality. Planting flowers will add some much-needed color to an otherwise ordinary outdoor space. Potted plants will do the trick too, especially if you have a deck or patio that needs a little decorating.

Work on your walkway
The path to your front door should be inviting. A stone walkway from the driveway instantly upgrades your curb appeal. And if you’ve already taken care of that part, tidy up by removing weeds and debris, and then line the walkway with some subtle lighting. It’ll make your home look cozy and appealing, day or night.

Five tips for first-time buyers



No matter how much time you spend on researching and educating yourself about your home purchase, it’s hard to cover every detail. Here are a few tips for avoiding rookie mistakes with your first home purchase.

1. Save as early as you can: Even if you think you’re years away from buying your first home, try to start saving for your down payment. It makes a huge difference in your monthly payments, and helps avoid paying CMHC mortgage insurance.

2. Be thorough with mortgage shopping: There are countless resources out there that can help you get the best terms for your mortgage. It may seem like a lot of work to shave less than a point off your mortgage rate, but it’ll save you thousands in the long run.

3. Consult a skeptic: You’re likely to fall in love with a home, and that can make it difficult to take problems seriously. Bring along a skeptical friend or family member who can give you an honest opinion.

4. Be patient with getting settled: You’ll be anxious to make your new home your own, but take some time to see how your budget truly shakes out. In other words, hold off on big furniture purchases and remodeling projects.

5. Make sure you’re happy with the neighborhood: The house may be perfect, but don’t discount the surroundings. You don’t want to end up in the suburbs if you’re going to miss walking to your favorite coffee shop, and you don’t want to settle for the city if you’re looking forward to some peace and quiet.

How to keep your home safe while traveling

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If you’re taking a bit of time away from Ottawa’s frequently-nasty winters, you might be concerned about the safety of your home while you’re enjoying the sun. Here are some tips to help you ensure that your home and valuables are safe while you’re away! A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward your peace of mind.


  1. Watch what you post on social media

    Consider keeping the details of your vacation to a minimum when you’re online, especially if your posts are visible to those other than your friends and family.

  2. Find a house sitter

    A simple way to ensure your home’s safety is to find someone – whether it be a friend, a neighbour, or a professional house sitter – to watch over your home while you’re away. Ask a friend to drive by once a day or so and check on things. Give this person a key so that they can check your mail, feed your cat, water your plants, and check for anything going wrong like frozen pipes. This friend should also have your contact information and your itinerary in case of emergencies.

    A word of warning – if you have more than one person watching your home, be sure to let them know about each other! You don’t want a neighbour calling the police on the friend you asked to stop by and check things, after all.

  3. Stop your mail

    You can request Canada Post to hold your mail while you’re away. They’ll hold all mail for you until you return, and even stop the delivery of fliers while you’re gone, as well.

  4. Don’t leave your trash bins out

    If you’re the only one on the street with your trash bins out all week, it’s obvious to potential intruders that you aren’t there.

  5. Landscaping

    If you have landscaping or hedges around your home, and especially near your window, keep it trimmed back. That way, thieves won’t have a place to hide.

  6. Lighting

    Good lighting is an important factor in keeping your home safe! Every outdoor entrance should have lighting to prevent someone breaking in to a door under cover of darkness. Consider having your outdoor lighting on a motion sensor to deter intruders.

    Consider your indoor lighting as well. If you were to leave lights on the entire time you’re gone, it is another red flag to intruders that you aren’t there. Instead, consider a timer for certain lights in your home. An automatic timer will give the illusion of your home being occupied; also, it will ensure that you don’t come back to a hefty hydro bill!

What you need to know about Remembrance Day in Ottawa

Ottawa is home to the national Remembrance Day ceremony every year, to honour Canadian veterans and those currently serving.

The ceremony will begin at the National Military Cemetery on Beechwood at 10:55 AM and then continues at the National War Memorial.

Be advised that the ceremony will mean that some roads downtown will be closed! From 7:30am to 1:00pm, the following roads will be closed:

  • Rideau/Wellington St. from Sussex/Colonel By Drive to Bank St.

  • Colonel By southbound from Rideau to Daly

  • Daly eastbound from Colonel By to Nicholas Street.

  • Nicholas northbound from Daly to Besserer Street.

  • Queen Street from Metcalfe to Elgin streets.

  • Elgin from Wellington to Albert.

  • MacKenzie Avenue from Murray to Rideau streets.

  • Metcalfe from Wellington to Albert.

  • O’Connor from Wellington to Queen.

Most businesses downtown will be closed until 12:30pm, including the businesses in the Byward Market, Rideau Centre, and Sparks Street Mall.

Businesses that are exceptions to the bylaw include:

  • Food/grocery, tobacco, antique and handcraft stores with less than 2,400 square feet used for serving or selling to the public.

  • Pharmacies with less than 7,500 square feet in total area used for serving/selling to the public (those in larger stores must close).

  • Book/newspaper dealers with less than 2,400 square feet used for serving/selling to the public.

  • Convenience stores.

  • Nurseries, gardening supply stores, florists.

  • Gas stations or businesses selling propane, diesel, natural gas and other fuel products.

  • Vehicle/boat rental and repair businesses, including those as part of a larger store (Canadian Tire).

Businesses that are not affected by the bylaw include:

  • Hotels/motels.

  • Restaurants.

  • Recreational facilities including fitness centres

  • Doctor/dentist/optometrist offices and medical centres.

  • Funeral homes.

  • Hair salons and spas.

  • Pet groomers.

  • Repair services for computers, furnaces, air conditioners, pools.

  • Pay-day loan services.

  • Realtors.

  • Dry cleaners.

  • Vendors at outdoor markets.

For more information, visit 

Where to Donate Clothing and Household Items in Ottawa


If you’re preparing to move, or if your kids have outgrown their clothes and toys, or if you’re just thinking of decluttering, it’s a good idea to go through  your home room by room and identify items you’d like to keep, and items that you’re ready to say goodbye to. There are lots of worthwhile charities in Ottawa that are in need of your donations!

  1. The Ottawa Mission: The Ottawa Mission serves hundreds of men every day by providing nutritious meals, a place to sleep, and a change of clothing. They take donations of bath towels, men’s clothing and shoes, men’s coats, and men’s toiletries. They do not accept donations of household items such as appliances or furniture.

  2. Harmony House: Harmony House provides support for women leaving violent or abusive relationships to find the resources they need to ensure financial, legal and emotional security. Because many clients come to Harmony House with few, if any, possessions, Harmony House accepts household items such as baking tins, pots and pans, cutlery, dishes, clothes hangers, and cleaning products.

  3. Clothesline Drop Boxes: Benefiting the Canadian Diabetes Association, Clothesline drop boxes are located all around the city. They accept gently used clothing, bedding, yarn, pillows, footwear, and small household items and electronics. Home pick-ups of donations can also be scheduled.

  4. Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy: The OFCP collects clothes, shoes, coats, bedding, and linens, as well as some toys, games, small appliances, books, electronics, and housewares.

  5. Dress For Success Ottawa: PREMIER is a proud sponsor of Dress For Success Ottawa. Dress For Success provides economically disadvantaged but employment-ready women with interview-appropriate suits and accessories. Modern, up-to-date women’s suitwear and professional accessories are accepted.

  6. Animal Shelters: Animal shelters frequently take donations of old towels and unopened or disinfectable pet supplies. Check the Ottawa Humane Society’s site to see what they currently need.

How to Prepare For Your Photography Appointment

Home photography graphic

You’re almost there! You’ve signed your listing paperwork, and hopefully met with a stager to discuss how best to display your home. Next up – the photography appointment! Staging and photography go hand in hand. Even the most beautifully-staged home will look much worse in bad photography – and even the best photographer can’t make an un-staged, cluttered home look like a masterpiece. At PREMIER, we contract with some of the best real estate photographers and stagers in the city to make sure that your home looks as appealing as possible to potential buyers.

These days, over 90% of buyers start their home search online by looking on, social media, or brokerage websites for properties that suit them – and the key to bringing these buyers through your front door is good photography.

However, even our outstanding photography team needs your help. Here are some things that you can do to ensure that our photographers capture your home’s good side.

1. Make your bed

While you may have pulled the blankets up and tidied the pillows, a little more effort will go a long way. Remember, every home buyer on the internet is about to tour through your bedroom. White or neutral sheets and coordinating bedding will look the best in photos – and make sure that all stuffed toys are hidden under the bed or in the closet!  Here’s a great video on how to make your bed photo-ready.

2. Don’t forget the bathroom!

Bathrooms and kitchens play a huge role in a buyer’s decision process. Any amount of dirt could very well turn them off. Before photos, and regularly while your home is on the market, give your bathroom a good scrub.

Some other things to consider:

  • Take out the trash before photos, and before showings!
  • Use plain white garbage bags instead of grocery bags in your trash bin.
  • Remove everything from the counters (and wipe them down). For your listing photos, all your countertops should be completely bare – no toothbrushes, toiletries, or soap.
  • The same goes for your shower! Remove all unnecessary toiletries. You can put them back after!
  • Use clean, neatly-folded, matching or coordinating towels and hand towels.
  • Make sure that the toilet lid is down! Not just the seat (although we’ve seen that too!) – the whole lid should be closed.

3.  Show your kitchen some love!

Just like bathrooms, kitchens are huge deciding factors for buyers. Buyers consider your kitchen as a barometer for how dirty the rest of your home is.

Our beautiful listing at 1811 Hunters Run Drive in Orleans has a showing-ready kitchen! The countertops are sparkling clean, and bare except for a nice knife block and some small, manicured plants.

  • Again, remove everything from the counters! One or two small appliances (like a coffee maker or a stand mixer) or a nice knife block can stay out if they’re clean.
  • Remove everything from the fridge and freezer doors! Magnets, calendars, and kids’ art  should all go away for the photos and showings. De-personalizing a home can allow buyers to imagine themselves living in the home.
  • Wash, dry, and put away all dishes! If you have a counter-top dish rack, put that under the sink for the photos as well.
  • Wipe down appliance doors, and polish them if they’re stainless steel.


The bedroom, kitchen, and bathrooms are three major areas that buyers judge in photos. Even if you haven’t worked with a stager, these tips can help you make your home look the best it can for photos and showings!

4770 Whispering Willow | Immaculate Cape Cod Home!

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4770 Whispering Willow Drive, Navan

This stunning Cape Cod home is located on a private 2 acre treed lot, set back from the road, within walking distance to Bearbrook Golf Club! Over $50k worth of quality renovations and upgrades means that all you have to do is move in!

The main level has pristine hardwood floors, spacious living and dining rooms, and a large sunny kitchen with stainless steel appliances, pantry, eating area, loads of cupboards, and double sink. The main level also has one bedroom and a full bathroom. Three more huge bedrooms are upstairs, with two more full bathrooms including a beautiful master ensuite.

A spacious lower level family room with low-maintenance laminate flooring boasts a huge, wood-burning fireplace, wet bar with mini fridge, pot lights, and wiring for a full home theater setup. The massive landscaped backyard boasts a hot tub, a 24ft above-ground salt water pool (with new liner and pump), fire pit, interlock patio, and no rear neighbours! The yard backs on to private walking trails, fantastic for walking dogs!

Oversized attached 2-car garage, loads of outdoor parking, and a main floor workshop off the garage!


Schools Near 4770 Whispering Willow Drive:

Elementary Schools:

High Schools:


Nearby Amenities and Recreation:

  • Bearbrook Golf Club
  • Commando Paintball
  • Centaur Riding School
  • Queenswood Stables
  • Navan Curling Club


About Navan

Navan is a rural community in Cumberland Ward in Ottawa. It’s located southeast of Orleans, and was named for the town of Navan in Ireland.

The Navan Fair is an annual event that takes place in the summertime, typically in August. It is held at the fairgrounds off of Colonial Road. The fair currently features midway rides, live music, concession stands, demolition derbies, exhibitions, parades, and various shows. The first fair took place in 1946. The admission for the first year of the fair was 35 cents for adults, 25 cents for children, and 25 cents for cars.



Where to Donate School Supplies in Ottawa



Parents and kids alike dread it – the inevitable back to school shopping trip. It’s even tougher if parents can’t afford the school supplies that their child’s school requires. Why not consider donating school supplies, or money to organizations that provide school supplies for underprivileged children? Here are some great organizations across the city who help kids in need!


Sharing in Student Success Program

The Sharing in Student Success Program at the Caring and Sharing Exchange collects school supplies donations and redistributes them to children from families in need. They invite you to donate items that are new or in great condition, such as pens, erasers, calculators, binders, pencil cases, scissors, backpacks, or anything else that children might need in the classroom. In 2014, this program helped 1,519 children across Ottawa!

Donations can be dropped off at the St-Laurent branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Don’t want to go buy school supplies? You can donate money online to the Sharing in Student Success program here.


Best Tools for Schools

Best Tools for Schools works directly with schools across Ottawa to develop one-stop-shopping school supply kits, tailored to the school and grade’s individual school supply list. If you don’t have a child in school, you can donate a kit to a child in need simply by purchasing them on their website, through their Supplies for Smaller Scholars program.


Need to request school supplies? 

The Kanata Food Cupboard works with the Sharing in Student Success Program to distribute school supplies! Fill out a form to request assistance here.

Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

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There’s still some summer left! We’re about to enjoy some hot, sunny weather here in Ottawa and that means that it’s the perfect time to break out the BBQ and have a party! Here are 10 tips for a stress-free summer party.


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From RedBook


1. Save time on bartending – make cocktails ahead of time!

Making batch cocktails ahead of time in pitchers or beverage dispensers allows you to save time on bartending – so you can spend more time with your guests! Here are some great recipes for easy summer cocktails that can be made in batches, from Real Simple.


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From Honey and Birch:


2. Make antipasto skewers for appetizers

These easy, appealing appetizers can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and served cold! Get the recipe here, or experiment with your own combinations!


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From BonAppetit:


3. Corn on the cob for a crowd? Use a cooler!

If you have a crowd to feed, you can make corn on the cob in a cooler! Just put the shucked ears in a (clean) cooler, pour two kettles full of boiling water over top, and close the lid. 30 minutes later, you’ll have perfectly cooked corn!


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From Ideas In Food:

4. Skewer small vegetables for easy grilling

If you aren’t keen on grill baskets for small vegetables like asparagus, try skewering them for easy flipping!


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From Martha Stewart:

5. Make paper bag lanterns

Fun, colourful lanterns can be made from nothing but paper bags, ribbon, and a string of outdoor Christmas lights! Learn how here:


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From And Then I Do The Dishes:


6. Make sliceable popsicles in a loaf pan

No popsicle moulds? No problem! Just line a loaf pan with plastic wrap to prevent sticking, and pour your popsicle mix in! Covering the loaf pan with plastic wrap makes sure that your popsicle sticks stay up. Get the recipe for these strawberry-watermelon yogurt pops here!


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From BuzzFeed:

7. Play a creative yard game

Giant Jenga? Lawn dominoes? Water balloon dodge ball? Keep kids and adults of all ages entertained by playing one of these fun outdoor games!



Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From Peach Canyon Wines:

8. Quickly chill wine with water and salt!

Forget to put the wine in the fridge? Chill wine in 20 minutes with nothing more than a bucket, water, ice, and salt!


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

Photo from here


9. Try a backyard movie night

A backyard movie night can be so simple, but so fun! Bring out picnic blankets, pillows, and cushions, and make a lot of popcorn! A white bedsheet can act as a projector screen, and there are many projectors that can be hooked up to a laptop.


Top 10 Simple Summer Party Ideas

From Uncommon Designs:


10. Keep decor simple!

Your guests are there to see you, not your decorating skills! Take a cue from this simple backyard party from Uncommon Designs – a table runner, some flowers in wine bottles, and strings of lights are all that’s needed to create an easy atmosphere for your guests to enjoy.

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