Friday, April 20, 2012

“Spring has sprung – the grass is riz….. I wonder where the birdies is?”

 “Spring has sprung – the grass is riz….. I wonder where the birdies is?”  
This is a poem I grew up with and have taught my daughter and soon my granddaughter.  It made me think about those of you getting you house ready to sell and thinking about putting it on the market for the spring traffic in our real estate market.

Your REALTORS® are very likely suggesting you do everything possible to make that good ‘first impression’ on potential buyers.  Helping a future buyer to see how great their future yard can look – with ease – is one good idea. – Street appeal is huge – don’t discount it or the advice from your  REALTOR® .  Traditionally in the spring – the real estate market sees an influx of inventory – you have to do what you can to stand out in the crowd.  A little gardening can go a long way – really.  And it doesn't have to be a huge job.

I know what some of you are thinking, “this woman is crazy, the words low maintenance and gardening go together like orange juice and toothpaste (not well)!” I have tried this before and wasted my money. I am not home enough and simply do not have the time to pay attention to a garden. Excuses Excuses, this time is different. Don’t miss out on the benefits of gardening!  Check out these tips from Coldwell Banker® and give it another go:

Face the Facts: There’s Good News & Bad News
Bad News: Maintaining a beautiful garden often takes hard work. From planning, to planting, to proper maintenance, gardens require one of the most valuable things you have…your time.

Good News: Well thought planning prior to planting can save both time and money and we have the tips to do it!

Do Your Homework
The first step to planning a garden is deciding how you plan to use it. Will you be growing your own vegetables (there is nothing like fresh basil, YUM) or do you simply want a flower garden that will add beauty to your yard? Keep in mind those who will be sharing in the beauty of your garden. Do you have kids or pets that may affect the area where your garden will grow?

After you decide what function your garden will serve it is important to study your yard prior to planting. Note the health of your yard, where do current plants thrive? Do certain areas receive more sunlight than others? Are there any weeds? Is there a place where water accumulates?
Once you assess the current status of your yard, jot down some notes and head to the store to seek professional advice on which low maintenance plants fit the following criteria:

  • Thrives in soil, sun and your climate 
  • Looks good for more than one season 
  • Perennial (A plant that has a life cycle that lasts more than two years) Personally, I've slowly turned my yard into mostly perennials and what a difference it has meant to my time and the success of the plants. 
  • Will not outgrow the space you plant it into 

Keep in mind that native plants grow on their own and don’t require a lot of attention.

Make Smart Choices
Here are ten perennial plants that blogger Marie Ianotti from Gardening suggests as smart choices for a low maintenance garden. (Check with a local garden centre for availability & suitability for your area.):

  1. Blazing Star: Blooms: Mid-summer through fall  Colors: Purples or white 
  2. Coneflowers: Blooms: Summer  Colors: Purple, white, orange, yellow, pink & red 
  3. Coral Bells: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer, but grown for its foliage. Colors: White, pink or red 
  4. Foam Flower: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: White or pink 
  5. Globe Thistle: Blooms: Early summer to Early Fall Colors: Blue or white 
  6. Hosta: Blooms: Generally mid-Summer Colors: Purples or white   (MY Favorite for shady spots)
  7. Peony: Blooms: Late spring / Early summer Colors: Pinks, white, reds or yellow 
  8. Russian Sage: Blooms: Mid-summer to Fall Colors: Blue (be careful – this will take over it’s area – I pulled mine out)
  9. Sea Thrift: Blooms: Spring to Early summer Colors: Pink, rose, lilac, red or white 
  10. Siberian Iris Blooms: Late spring Colors: Blues, purples or white 

Consider Container Gardening
A great solution for a “wannabe green thumb” that doesn’t have hours to spend on their garden is opting to use the container gardening method. Let your creative juices flow when selecting your container and think beyond planter boxes and hanging baskets. Some of the most beautiful container gardens are grown out of household items that you may look at as junk. A popular, “out of the box”, solution is growing a garden out of the basket of an old bicycle  or use that big broken pot – tip it on its side and let the plants and dirt ‘spill’ out of it..

Other fun ideas include cowboy boots, wheel barrows, bird feeders, dresser drawers and rain barrels.

One benefit of container gardening is that you don’t even need a yard. Decks, windows, balconies and front porches (another personal favorite of mine) can all be used as a starting point for your garden. For more information on container gardening check out “What is container gardening?”  by TLC.

Adding containers or features (like the old stained glass window or concrete piece add character to the space so you don’t have to plant so much to make it look ‘full”                                      

Stick With It
Commit to giving your garden the TLC that it needs and deserves. Be patient and give your garden time to grow before giving up on it. If you see your garden going downhill don’t give up! Seek the help of fellow gardeners in your neighborhood, local nursery or go online and reach out to the garden community.  Share your passion for your garden with a family member or neighbor. Hobbies that are shared with loved ones are always more enjoyable.  The reward of a beautiful garden is well worth the work you put into it.

Good luck and happy planting! The photos in here – I’m proud to say – are from my own garden! – I work a lot and still have time to keep it maintained – the number one must have though is automatic sprinklers.

When the going gets "Tough"...just call me.
Susan Tough

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How great is this!?!

What a wonderful evening was shared by REALTORS® and Staff at the beautiful Quail’s Gate Winery on Boucherie last night.  Some people don’t appreciate or follow the award standings of their  REALTORS®.  Others do very much.

From our point of view – as independent contractors – REALTORS® are effectively in charge of their own business model and career success.  I believe that acknowledging them for the dedication to their profession is a very good thing.  Just like any profession or service providers you come across in your daily activities – there are some that meet your needs better than others.  At Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty – we are blessed with the ones that rise above the industry standard of care and production.  

What that translates to you – the public – is that you can rest easy when you have the benefit of a Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty REALTOR® working with you on your purchase or sale.  The Ultimate Service
program embraced by our licensees is exactly that – a measurement of the top quality service they provide during a very important time of your lives – moving.  What makes this measurement even more valuable is that the results and award winners are acknowledged because of direct feedback the BRAND gets from you – the clients.  You tell us constantly – that your Coldwell Banker  REALTOR®  was amazing, trustworthy, professional, kind, knowledgeable...... the list goes on.  

Thank you from all of us for your kind remarks and feed back – and Thank you for your continued loyalty and trust.

2011 Ultimate Service
® Winners are:

Gary August, Malcolm Bellinger, Allyn Bentz, Ellen Churchill, Leigh Bjornson, Renate Boucher, Marlene Braun, Jennifer Bregolisse, Jaime Briggs, Paige Guernsey, Cecile Guibault, Jane Hoffman, Tracy Lang, Gary Loverin, John Mandoli, Murray Neuman, Roma Niessen, Darcy Nyrose, Blake Roberts, Barret Watson, Ian Watson, Jennifer Williamson


Jane Hoffman Group – #1 Coldwell Banker® team in Canada and #1 team in British Columbia and in the top 10 teams in Canada for total units.

After more than two decades of landmark achievements, Jane Hoffman has firmly established herself as the Okanagan’s most respected and prolific lakefront real estate specialist. Jane has leveraged this experience in leading and inspiring the real estate sales and marketing professionals of Coldwell Banker Jane Hoffman Group.

Cecile Guilbault earned the #1 sales associate award for British Columbia. 

Since 1995, Cecile's been pursuing her own dreams of living in the Okanagan and all the great opportunities it has to offer. When it comes to buying or selling property in this unique area her pride, love and appreciation for living here is reflected in her caring and personalized service.

Commercial Property Manager Shirley Mehus - earned the commercial awards -  Bronze Circle of Distinction & Top Commercial Professional in British Columbia

International Production Designations are important for the REALTORS® as it shows them how their efforts measure up to the International 85,000 Coldwell Banker® sales associates.

Canadian Associate Individual - top 30% in Canada:

Charlene Bertrand   Brian Gatzke             Bill Raine

Al Boyle                      Gary Loverin              Walt Reglin
Mark Boppre              Richard Paterson
Cathy Cherka            Marnie Perrier

International Sterling Society Individual - top 20% of all sales associates in North America

Allyn Bentz             Karen Guy                 John Mandoli
Ellen Churchill       Steven Hampton      Hugh Mervyn
Paige Guernsey     Bonnie Hunter

International Diamond Society Individual - top 15% of all sales associates in North America

Renee Boucher
Murray Neuman
Roma Niessen

International President's Circle Individual - top 8% of all sales associates in North America

Jaime Briggs has been recognized as our #2 producing individual sales associate in the Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty franchise.

International President's Elite Individual - top 3% of all sales associates in North America

Cecile Guilbault 

has been recognized as our #1 producing individual sales associate in the Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty franchise.

International Sterling Society Team - top 30% of all teams in North America

August & Bregolisse - Gary August and Jennifer Bregolisse
Roberts & Braun - Marlene Braun and Blake Roberts

International Diamond Society Team - top 21% of all teams in North America

Dusik, Bjornson & Lang - Greg Dusik, Leigh Bjornson, Tracy Lang and Katherine Dusik
Watson Brothers - Ian Watson and Barret Watson

International President's Circle Team - top 13% of all teams in North America

Nyrose & Associates - Darcy Nyrose, Jennifer Williamson, Dave Sutherland, Dave Sargent, and Jason Koverchuk

In the top ten teams for Canada for total units.

International President's Premier Team - top 2% of all teams in   North America

Jane Hoffman Group - Jane Hoffman, Kristy Huber, Carole Ceron, Lora Proskiw, Dean Simonelli, and Sherrin Stewart

Chairman’s Circle - Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty

John Geha, Coldwell Banker Canada Operations ULC President stated today: “I am very pleased and Proud to have a company of the quality of Coldwell banker Horizon Realty in our network.  For the 10th year they have qualified for the very prestigious award of being recognized as a Chairman’s Circle company within the Coldwell Banker® Brand of Affiliates – which puts them in the Top 1% of Brokerages – Globally! 
This quality is not just reflected in the ownership – it starts with the Sales Representatives, the Management and the staff. A combination of people, professionalism and service are some of the many factors that make a Chairman’s Circle company ...and on top of that – they have qualified for the 15 year as an Ultimate Service® Company – an accolade we are all most proud of as that comes direct from the consumer.  I was very pleased to present these awards and share in the evening with them last night.”

When the going gets "Tough"...just call me.
Susan Tough

Monday, April 9, 2012

Women VS Men - Home-Buying Decisions

Coldwell Banker® recently published a survey about how men and women differ in their home buying decisions.  Here are the results:

Coldwell Banker Survey Finds Women and Men Make Home-Buying Decisions with Head and Heart
PARSIPPANY, N.J. (March 27, 2012) – Square-footage and price are important elements to consider when selecting a home but according to a new survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate of 1,000 men and women, they both also rely on how they feel and how their lifestyle fits into a home when looking for a place to live. The survey found 28 percent of women and 25 percent of men put more emphasis on their feelings about a home than they do on the layout, square footage, or price. The majority of women (62 percent) and men (61 percent) also know within the first visit if the home is right for them.

“A home is more than square-footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and this survey shows just how much emotion can play a role in home buying process,” says Jessica Edwards, Coldwell Banker Real Estate consumer specialist. “When two people are looking for a home together, there are many considerations to take into account.  Of course, price and layout matter, but ‘feeling at home’ is an important factor.”

The survey also reveals insights into the roles men and women play at home and finds some interesting differences between age groups. 
Women Take Charge of Making a House a Home:
  • Over half of women (54 percent) say that they take the lead when it comes to decorating.  However, younger men play a larger role in d├ęcor decisions than their older counterparts. Forty-eight (48) percent of younger respondents, age 18-44, say decorating is mutual; this decreases to 36 percent for respondents 55 and over.
  • Women also cook it up in the kitchen. Sixty-eight (68) percent of women say they are the “primary chef” for their household.  Not to be outdone, some men are also putting on the apron – occasionally.  Nearly a quarter of men (23 percent) say cooking is their job.
Age Changes How Men and Women Feel “At Home”
  • Sharing financial decisions may get easier over time. Fifty-four (54) percent of people age 18-44 say major financial decisions are mutual, compared to 60 percent of those 45-54. This increases to 70 percent for people 55 and over.
  •  Interestingly, as age increases, so does contentment with the current status of the home. Almost half (45 percent) of those older than 55 say they are very happy with their home just the way it is, compared to 25 percent of those age 18-44.  More men seem to be focused on making significant changes to the home (9 percent) compared to women (5 percent).

Check out this video from Coldwell Banker highlighting tips for both men and women for buying a home.

    For couples entering the home-buying process, here are Edwards’ tips for harmonious house-hunting:

    • Each person should come up with a list of a few things that are most important and then come together as a couple to decide on a list of the top three to five things that are important for the home. 
    • When looking for a home, communication is key. Consider designating a point person for different aspects of the home-buying process, so that information is not delayed or communicated to just one part of the couple.
    • Don’t get too many people involved; typically more people means more stress and what is most important is that the couple is happy with the decisions being made.
    • Don’t forget to have fun! Remember that this home will be the place to build memories and a life together.
    What has motivated you in your home buying decisions? Whether you are a head or heart person, make sure you are represented by an experienced licensed REALTOR®. 

    When the going gets "Tough"...just call me.
    Susan Tough

    For more information please visit 
    Survey Methodology: Coldwell Banker Real Estate engaged SSRS to conduct an omnibus survey via telephone in February 2012, among more than 1,000 respondents. This study was conducted in SSRS’s EXCEL Omnibus. EXCEL is a national, weekly telephone omnibus service designed to meet the standards of quality associated with custom research studies. The EXCEL survey consists of a standard set of introductory and demographic questions supplemented by a changing series of questions on various topics as contracted by participating companies.
    Sample Design: Each EXCEL survey consists of 1,000 interviews, with 50% men and 50% women.EXCEL uses a fully-replicated, stratified, single-stage random-digit-dialing (RDD) sample of telephone households. Sample telephone numbers are computer-generated and loaded into on-line sample files accessed directly by the CRT system. Within each sample household, one adult respondent is randomly selected using a computerized procedure based on the “Most Recent Birthday Method”. Respondents answering questions in an EXCEL insert specifically designed for this survey were 1014 men and women ages 18 and older.
    Margin of Error: Because this is a sample, and not an actual population, an associated margin of error applies. At a 95% level of confidence, the margin of error for this sample of 1014 is +/- 3.08%. This essentially means that we can be 95% certain that, for any percentage result for the total sample, the “true” percentage is within 3.08 percentage points of that which is actually reported.
    Significant Differences: Within this report, significant differences are reported at the 95% level of confidence.