All posts by Ray Ferris

10 Things to Do in Norfolk County this Long Weekend

The Victoria Day long holiday weekend, commonly referred to as the May two-four weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer.

There’s lots to see and do in Norfolk County. Here are some ideas:

1.  Long Point Eco-AdventuresLooking for a unique outdoor adventure experience that is out of the ordinary? From zip lining through the canopy of Carolinian forest, to stargazing at Long Point Observatory, to kayaking down Big Creek into Long Point Biosphere, Long Point Eco-Adventures provides eco-friendly adventures and vacations that develop new skills and provide exciting experiences for families and friends.

2.  Enjoy a footlong hot dog at The ArborThe Arbor has been feeding the appetites of the locals as well as the  thousands of tourists that visit since 1919. Famous for Golden Glow (fresh fruit drinks) fresh cut fries, Ritz Red Hots (foot long hot dogs) with an amazing array of condiments and a great selection of Ice Creams. 

3.  Visit the Long Point Bird ObservatoryIf you’re interested in birds or even think you might be, then a trip to Long Point Bird Observatory is in order. You don’t need binoculars or fancy equipment to enjoy birds at LPBO. During migration, banding demonstrations (from 9:00 a.m. until noon daily, weather permitting) make it possible for you to see the birds up close.

4.  For Mouth Watering Pizza, head to The Catherwood and The Kiln. Not only is this historic building a pizza parlour but also a patio, art gallery and museum.

5.  Check out a production at the Lighthouse Festival TheatreThe 2016 summer season of the Lighthouse Festival Theatre offers something for everyone. Don’t miss out on the comedy “Real Estate” playing June 8th to 25th.Real Estate LFT

6.  Have a Crepe Day! From a propane powered mobile street cart on the Port Dover pier for three years to a European style patio and inside dining room, the Food Network got it right when they featured this one of a kind eatery on “You Gotta Eat Here”.Eggs Benedict

7.  The Burning Kiln Winery. Burning Kiln Winery is a good news story: the building is an architecturally repurposed tobacco pack barn and our multi-award-winning wines carry on a Norfolk County tradition of agricultural excellence. Experience a unique, spectacular winery which honours our agricultural heritage and celebrates the culinary and cultural bounty of Norfolk County.

Burning Kiln Winery

8.  Visit Andy’s Drive-InNorfolk’s only 50’s Inspired Drive-In, The moment you arrive, you will enjoy not only the casual atmosphere but there’s just a special ambience that adds fun and relaxation.

This place is a Norfolk County institution and has been around since the 40’s. Back then there were only a few paved roads and not a lot going on.  Now Norfolk has grown exponentially, but Andy’s Drive-In is still serving up amazing burger, fries and some seriously amazingly thick milkshakes.Andy's Drive-In

9.  Twins Ice Cream Parlour. That irresistible aroma in the air on Bay Street, Port Rowan is flowing from Twins Ice Cream Parlour preparing homemade waffle cones and bowls. Serving frozen yogurt and over 40 flavours of ice cream.


10.  Take a stroll along Norfolk’s Waterfront TrailNorfolk’s shoreline is dotted with provincial parks, conservation areas, three public beaches and marshes that make it a naturalist’s haven. The Trail follows mostly quiet rural roads and passes through a couple of small towns and the larger Port Dover.

Of course, we know there are a lot of other things to do in Norfolk. What did we not include on our list that you’re going to do this weekend?

Rosemary’s Pickled Asparagus Recipe

Norfolk County Asparagus is in season until June.

Here is a great recipe to try:

7 cups distilled water
3 cups white vinegar
3 tbsp. pickling spice
1/4 tsp. alum
1/2 tsp. white sugar   

Wash and sterilize 8 pt. jars. 

Wash and pack with enough raw asparagus to fill keeping the spears a least a 1/2 inch from top.  

Place 2 pieces of garlic and a sprig of dill or dill weed in each jar. 

Bring vinegar mixture to a boil and pour over jars of asparagus. Seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.


A Taste of Something Beautiful

Port Rowan’s former Masonic Lodge is now home to “a taste of something beautiful.” 

Bella's Bakery & Boutique
Bella’s Bakery & Boutique
Bella's Bakery & Boutique
Bella’s Bakery & Boutique

Bella’s Bakery & Boutique is located at 1048 Bay Street and has quickly become famous for their mouth watering sweet treats, delicious light lunches, impressive custom designed cakes and some pretty neat boutique buys of fashionable kitchen and tabletop finds.

Bella’s is the creation of owner Elle Bouck’s love of baking ever since she was a little girl combined with her passion for creating a small town community atmosphere where people could enjoy tasty treats. Her passion shines through with a delectable section of tasty delights served in a comfortable and welcoming location.

High Heel Cupcakes
High Heel Cupcakes

Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9AM to 5PM, breakfast is served from 9AM to 11AM while light lunches are served from 11AM to 3PM. While I’ve yet to make it in for breakfast, I’ve enjoyed several lunches at Bella’s. Amongst my favourite lunch time menu items are the Layered Cobb Sandwich, Turkey Panini and Philly Steak Panini. The next time I stop in for lunch I’m going to try Bella’s Seasonal Salad.  

Make sure that you try one of Bella’s signature “Bellalicious” Pink Squares with a portion of the proceeds going to the Haldimand-Norfolk Women’s Shelter, a charity close to Elle’s heart after her co-op placement there during college.  

Baby Belly Cake
Baby Belly Cake
Minnie Mouse Custom Birthday Cake
Minnie Mouse Custom Birthday Cake

Bella’s means beautiful in Italian. Elle says “We are passionate about promoting being beautiful inside & out” hence Bella’s tagline is “A Taste of Something Beautiful”.

A beautiful experience awaits you at Bella’s Bakery & Boutique. You won’t be disappointed.

I Won’t Help You Buy A Condo in Downtown Toronto But I Can Help You Buy A Lake Erie Cottage

Real estate consumers like to work with people that they know, like and trust.  I get that. Therefore sellers sometimes ask a REALTOR® who doesn’t live locally but whom they know personally to list their property for sale.  For example, a cottage owner might be tempted to ask the REALTOR® who sold them their home in the city to list their cottage for sale which is located four hours away.

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Buyers sometimes do something very similar in that they will ask a REALTOR® who they know where they currently reside to assist them in locating a property to purchase in another town or city sometimes as far as hundreds of miles away.  I’ll discuss why I’m so adamantly opposed to listing a home or cottage for sale or assisting a buyer locate and purchase a home or recreational property in an area I’m not familiar with.

I sell homes and cottages in Norfolk County.  I know where to find a doctor, lawyer and local tradespeople who service the area.  I know the schools, banks, libraries, post offices and the people.  I’m familiar with local zoning by-laws, what day garbage pick up is, who local elected officials are and most other things you will want to know when living in a Norfolk community.  Want to know where to get the best burger, best pizza or where to enjoy fine dining?  I can help with that, too.


Yes, a Google search will yield a wealth of information about buying or selling a home and about the neighbourhoods or areas you’re interested in.  But finding facts and advice that are both local and credible is more important.

Ontario real estate professionals are registered to trade in real estate anywhere in the province.  However, if I wanted a buy a condo or house in Toronto, I’d hire a Toronto REALTOR® to advise and counsel me on market value and local issues. Local people will always have a better knowledge of these matters.

5 Things to Consider When Selling Your Home Yourself

It can be tempting to try to sell your home on your own hoping that selling it yourself will save you money.  

Here are 5 things you need to consider if you try to sell your home on your own:

1. You are limiting your exposure to potential buyers. Gone are the days of banging a for sale sign into the ground, hosting an open house and placing an ad in the newspaper … at least if you want top dollar.  As a matter of fact, these three marketing tools are becoming less and less effective. As a 25 year veteran of the real estate business, I’ve never sold a house that I’ve hosted an open house at to a buyer who happened to stop by. Sure, I know that there are stories of where a house sold to somebody who attended an open house but those stories are rare.  

According to the National Association of REALTORS’® 2020 Profile of Buyers and Sellers, 97% of home buyers used the internet in their home search process. To achieve top dollar for your home today, it’s essential that you maximize the exposure of your property online. 

Greater market exposure results in a higher probability of getting the right price sooner. Remember, the longer that a house sits on the market the lower the selling price is going to be.  

2. You don’t have to pay upfront. The vast majority of homes are sold by REALTORS®. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) companies are not REALTORS®.  

With DIY companies you pay upfront for a for sale sign, photos, website advertising and more. If you don’t sell your house yourself, you’re out of pocket the money you had to pay upfront. I’m often asked by prospective sellers how much I would charge to list their house. My answer is that “I don’t charge you anything to list your house.  My success fee is only payable upon the closing of your home.” 

That’s right, I pay for a professional staging consultation, professional photos, a professional video, professionally mastered online listings, print and digital marketing even if your house doesn’t sell (but it will when you let me tell the story of your home).

3. The buying process begins AFTER the buyer leaves your home. My experience as a REALTOR® has taught me that buyers rarely walk into a home, fall in love with it and want to buy it right then and there. Buying a home and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars is a scary thought for most home buyers. They need guidance and reassurance. If a home owner calls a prospective buyer after a showing the home owner looks overly anxious to sell. A REALTOR® is able to answer a buyer’s questions and counsel them on the home buying process. Most buyers find it extremely awkward to negotiate on their own or even talk directly to the sellers.

4. You negotiate on your own. This one scares me the most. I’ve received calls from home owners seeking advice after they have accepted an offer on their home that they negotiated on their own. It’s never good news when a home owner calls me AFTER the fact. 

For example, I remember a telephone call that I received from a lady who was selling her house without representation from a REALTOR®. She had accepted an offer from a prospective buyer that was conditional upon the buyer selling their current home. The offer didn’t contain an escape clause (a clause that a REALTOR® would have advised be included in the agreement).  

An escape clause is typically included in an agreement of purchase and sale when a buyer has to sell their current home before being able to buy another home. The problem is that one never knows if the buyer’s home is going to sell therefore an escape clause allows the seller to continue to offer their house for sale. In the event that the seller receives another offer, the escape clause allows the seller to serve notice on the original buyer notifying them that they now have a contracted number of hours (generally 48 to 72 hours in my trading area) to remove all conditions from their agreement to purchase, failing which their offer is null and void.  

The offer received from the original buyer didn’t contain an escape clause therefore the seller wasn’t at liberty to entertain other offers until the end of the conditional period allowed for the seller to sell their house. Upon further discussion with the frustrated home owner I was made aware that the original buyer had an entire year to sell her house. One year later the buyer’s house remained unsold meaning that the seller’s house was still not sold.  Needless to say the home owner listed her house with our company immediately thereafter.

5. Getting a real estate sales contract isn’t the end of the story; it’s just the beginning. There’a a lot more work to do to bring a buyer and seller to a successful closing. Nothing should be left to chance. Lenders advancing mortgage funds will often require an appraisal of the home being purchased to make sure that the amount of money they are loaning is not more than the value of the house. What are your options if the bank’s appraised value is less than the purchase price of your home? An experienced REALTOR® will be able to offer sound professional advice if this happens to you and it often does in a seller’s market.  

Most buyers will have a home inspection completed of your home. How skilled are you at handling both minor and major deficiencies revealed during a home inspection? How experienced are you at handling the buyer’s objections to proceeding with the transaction unless you reduce the purchase price by $10,000 since the home inspector reported that the roof shingles are at the end of their life expectancy in another two years? It was obvious when the buyer viewed your home that the roof shingles were older and would have to be replaced soon. Didn’t the buyer know that when the buyer made you the offer that you agreed to? What should you do now? Your REALTOR® will have encountered this situation numerous times before and will know how to handle this objection favourably for you.

What are your options if the buyer’s home inspection reveals that there is vermiculite insulation in your attic? This can be a very costly fix to remedy if the vermiculite contains asbestos. Do you know how to determine whether the insulation has asbestos in it?  If so, what should you do to keep your real estate transaction on track? A REALTOR® will know.

The buyer’s lawyer searched title to your house and it’s been discovered that the wooden deck in your back yard doesn’t have a final occupancy permit. Or worse yet, the buyer’s lawyer turns up the fact that you built that wooden deck without a building permit! It’s one day before closing, you’re all packed and ready to move but your entire real estate transaction is at risk of falling apart and not closing. Now what? Ask your REALTOR® because he or she will know what to do.

As a matter of fact, a For Sale By Owner company’s website’s disclaimer states “We are not real estate brokers nor agents. We represent neither the buyer nor the seller. We do not trade in real estate. We neither warranty nor make any representations as to the outcome of a property sale.” WHAT!?!?!? We represent neither the buyer nor the seller??? No warranty or representations as to the outcome of the sale??? 

Selling a home for most people is the single largest financial transactions of their lives and nothing should be left to chance. REALTORS® represent their clients to make sure that their best interests are contracted for and that the outcome of a property sale is a successful one.

These five things to consider if you’re thinking of selling your home on your own are just the tip of the iceberg.

Tip of the Iceberg

There are plenty of other considerations one should think about if considering going the DIY route.  Anyone who has ever tried it will tell you, selling your own home is not as easy as it looks.

Come In, We’re Open

7d847a1c12295283512efffc0b613ac1It’s official! We’re open for business at our new location at 1019 Bay Street, Port Rowan.

We had a very aggressive timeline between securing our new office space and opening our doors for business. Maybe our timeline was a bit too optimistic. Our office administrator is busy working away at her new desk that arrived by expedited delivery from Jeff’s atWorkOur timeline didn’t allow enough time for all of our customized office furniture to be manufactured therefore we appreciate the extra mile that the gang at Jeff’s atWork went to in getting our administrator’s desk delivered for our opening.


Please stop in to see us at our new location and fill out a ballot to enter our draw for an Apple iPad mini 2.

We hope to see you soon!

How Will Recently Announced Increases in Mortgage Insurance Effect You?

bank-iconEffective June 1, if you’re buying a home with a downpayment of less than 10%, the amount you’ll be paying for mortgage insurance is going to increase by 15%.

Mortgage insurance provides protection for lenders who loan money to have buyers and owners in case of default. The premium for mortgage insurance is typically added to your mortgage balance. Homeowners with less than a 20% downpayment must get mortgage insurance if they are borrowing from a financial institution regulated by the Bank Act.

For a downpayment less than 10%, home buyers currently pay a mortgage insurance rate of 3.15%. As of June 1, that insurance rate will increase to 3.60%.

So what does this translate into in terms of dollars and cents? Genworth noted that for first time buyers with a 95% loan-to-value mortgage of $300,000, the change amounts to a $6 increase in their monthly payment based on a 2.79% interest rate and a 25-year amortization period.

The increase to mortgage insurance rates has been announced by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Genworth Capital. Canada Guaranty, another private insurer has yet to make an announcement regarding an increase.

When it comes to choosing a mortgage there are lots of local professionals who can assist you in getting the right mortgage. If you’re looking to buy and for a mortgage, we have strong working relationships with many local lenders who can assist you.

Get in touch with us by completing the “leave a comment” form below.

What is the MLS® Anyways?

The other day one of the REALTORS® in our office was disappointed to learn that someone she knew purchased a property listed for sale by another real estate brokerage.

“Why didn’t you ask me to show you the house you bought?” our sales representative asked.

“It was listed for sale with another real estate company” answered the buyer.

mlsIf you’ve bought or sold a property recently, you’ll know that the MLS®, short for Multiple Listing Service, makes the real estate industry unique by encouraging a high degree of cooperation among REALTORS®. For example, if you’re shopping for a car and you visit a local dealer, the salesperson’s goal is to sell you a car from that car lot. They won’t provide you with information on cars available at competing dealerships. In the real estate industry, the opposite is true. The MLS® system allows for cooperation between all REALTORS® no matter which company they work for.

Buying a home is usually one of the biggest financial decisions a person or family will make during their lives. When you allow a REALTOR® to represent you in the purchase of a property, he or she will provide you with consultative advice and support during this exciting (and often nerve-wracking) process. Confidential information you share with your REALTOR® such as if you’re willing to pay more cannot be disclosed to the seller if you’re represented by a REALTOR®.

However, you may assume that you’re being represented when you actually are not. For example, if you attend an open house and strike up a conversation with the sales representative hosting the open house and discuss details of an offer the sales representative may be obligated to tell the home owner.

If you’re thinking of buying and want a REALTOR® that does more than fills in the forms, contact us today. We’re here to help you determine how much house you can afford, what properties are available for sale that might be of interest to you, what Government programs are available as home ownership incentives, what other similar homes are selling for and any thing else you may want to know.

When it comes to anything in life, and in particular when it involves large sums of money and stringent legal requirements, wouldn’t you rather work with someone you know, like and trust?

Call the Erie’s Edge REALTOR® you know to help you draft a blueprint to help you locate your new home, cottage, farm or condo.


The Worst Road in Norfolk County

Worst Roads

I avoid driving down Radical Road going into Port Dover. Instead I’ll drive down Highway 6 which takes me longer and is not as scenic. The condition of Radical Road is far worse than any pounding I’ve experienced riding a boat through Lake Erie’s biggest waves (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration). You can see for yourself here.

Again this year, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), along with the Ontario Road Builders’ Association, is calling on road users across Ontario to vote for the province’s worst roads.

CAA states “Our goal is to raise awareness about the need for improved infrastructure in our communities. This year, in addition to the Ontario Top 10 list, CAA is introducing a series of regional Top 5 lists.”

At the end of this year’s campaign, CAA will verify the roads voted for, publish the lists and share the results with key influencers in Ontario’s provincial and municipal governments.

Since the inception of the campaign, CAA reports that “tens of thousands of Ontarians have voted over the years, and approximately 90% of the roads on past lists have been (or are scheduled to be) repaired!

On Monday when CAA launched 2015’s campaign, Radical Road quickly moved into first place as the worst road in Ontario. But the campaign continues until April 17 so we need to keep drawing attention to the deteriorating condition of the road.

If you agree with me that Norfolk County’s Radical Road is the worst road, cast your vote by clicking here. When you vote you will be entered for a chance to win 1-of-3 $100 gas cards and the grand prize of FREE gas for a year!

Spread the word and help draw provincial attention to the poor condition of our Radical Road by sharing this post using the social media icons below.

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Do I Need a Building Permit for a Deck?

DeckI’m often asked whether or not a building permit is needed to build a deck. The answer depends on two factors:

(1) Whether or not the deck serves an entrance or exit; and

(2) The size of the deck.

A building permit is always required for a deck regardless of its size if it serves and entrance or exit. For example, a deck outside of a patio door will require a building permit.

Any deck this is larger than 108 square feet (10 square metres), regardless of whether it is attached or detached to a dwelling, is required to have a permit. However, if you construct a deck under 108 square feet in size setback regulations still apply. A setback is the distance which a deck must be setback from your property line.

To apply for a building permit in Norfolk County, you are required to complete and submit a building permit application along with 2 copies of you construction drawings and 2 copies of a survey of site plan detailing the location of you deck including the setback dimensions from all property lines and the septic system.

For more information about deck regulations, you should contact Norfolk County’s building department at 519.426.4377 or 519.875.4485. Additional information is also available on Norfolk County’s website by clicking here.