RE/MAX Hallmark Emerson Group Realty Ltd., Brokerage
Independently owned & operated


We’ve climbed the property ladder many times, optimizing our journey to take advantage of life’s opportunities.
Here’s our story.


There are many life stages that prompt us to reconsider our living arrangements and wonder whether it’s time to make a change. One of the biggest, and often most difficult, is the one an increasing number of baby boomers face: Is it time to let go of the family home, perhaps relocating to another community outside the GTA?

Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t – it really depends on whether you’re looking forward to what comes next and are ready to transition to a new lifestyle. And if you’re not sure, that’s the perfect time to consult with us.

Yes, we’re real estate agents, which means we help you to buy and sell homes. But, ultimately, we’re more concerned with helping you make the decision that’s right for you. And that could mean staying right where you are. There can be a lot of unknowns when you contemplate moving, and the satisfaction for us comes in helping you talk through the process to determine your next step.

Should I stay or should I go?

You’re at a crossroads. You’ve been in your family home for a long time, but the kids are gone and you can start to see a new and potentially exciting phase on the horizon. Or maybe your circumstances have changed, either for better or for worse. Does that mean you should downsize or right-size? That depends on whether you’re really ready to make a change.

Why it’s hard to go

The biggest reason empty nesters will avoid making a decision to transition is because change is uncomfortable. You’ve been in your home a long time, it’s comfortable, it’s what you know. And changing that brings with it many unknowns. Will you be happy in a new home or will you just miss your old one? Will you like a new community? What will the future hold for you in terms of health, family needs and your personal desires?

And the choices can be overwhelming. Figuring out where to start and what you might want can seem daunting, as can the thought of the whole process of preparing for a sale, hunting for a new home, coordinating both and the disruption it all brings.

Why it’s hard to stay

While you may be comfortable in your family home, once the kids have gone you no longer need all that space. And the idea of new opportunities can be exciting. A family home can be a necessary and safe anchor when your family is growing. But letting it go afterwards can be like lifting a weight that gives you the freedom – financially, emotionally and mentally – to make new choices.

What are the options?

The first thing to determine is whether you should “move or improve”. Sometimes the best option is to stay put. Moving carries with it the costs of disposition and acquisition, costs that could instead be invested into renovations so that you can enjoy your home the way you want longer. In this case, it becomes a question of do you like your neighbourhood and your neighbours?

But not everyone wants to renovate. If you decide you do want to move, then the question becomes where? You could relocate in the city, but maybe this is your chance to get away from urban congestion and find more relaxed living, where you can have access to the hobbies you like, such as golf or boating or even hobby farming.

You may want to become a snowbird, living here during the warmer months and following the sun in winter. You could have a home base here and enjoy rental experiences around the world. Maybe you want waterfront living, or the freedom to volunteer locally or abroad whenever you want. Or maybe you’re still transitioning to retirement and want to tele-commute or work from any home base.

There are many choices. What’s best for you depends on what’s important to you in your situation. Helping you navigate those choices and make the best decision for today is what’s key for us.

Exploring the options

So, how do you know whether you’re making the right choice? Well, how about a test drive?

Maybe you think the Golden Horseshoe or Prince Edward County might be right for you – still close enough to family that you can regularly see the grandkids, but far enough away from the big city to escape the congestion. Or perhaps the natural beauty of the Muskokas or Kawarthas is calling you. Or maybe you want to consider relocating as far away as Vancouver or Halifax.

Why not try before you buy? You could rent for a time in the area, or simply try a bed and breakfast stay to start. While you’re there, check out some of the community events, meet some locals, shop and dine in local stores and restaurants and get a feel for the lifestyle.

And, if you like what you see, we can connect you with a trusted real estate professional from among our extensive network to help you begin to explore the area real estate.

All of these things can help to make the transition easier. And by connecting with us at the beginning of the process, you can be assured of impartial guidance to first make the right choice for you, and then help you navigate through the process.

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Insights for the Toronto real estate market in October 2017, along with an interview with our Referral Partner, Francis Snyder. Enjoy the show!

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We’ve all been hearing for some time how first-time buyers can’t get into the housing market because homes – especially in the GTA – simply aren’t affordable. How can you climb the property ladder if you can’t even reach the first rung?

It is possible, as our own story shows, and we’ve started from scratch twice. The key is in determining your priorities.

Is owning important to you?

When we were still teenagers, a friend’s Mom sat us down and carefully pointed out the value in owning versus renting. It was advice that had an impact on us and it’s why we saved hard to be able to buy shortly after we were married. We were among the first of our friends to do so.

What’s your priority?

But buying that first home came with some tough choices. We wanted to stay in our Scarborough Bluffs neighbourhood, yet there was no way we could afford the type of home we wanted – a detached, three-bedroom home near the lake – in that area.

So, we had to choose what was more important – location or home size – then headed east, all the way to Ajax, in order to afford the type of home we wanted with our $160,000 budget. Keep in mind that this was back in 1991, and that home today would be worth about $600,000. At the time, we were willing to make the commute to work in order to have a roomy home, on an even roomier lot, just yards from the water.

And we did have help. The bank of Mom and Dad both loaned us money to help with our down payment (which we paid back) and Matt’s Mom rented an apartment we created in the basement to help us offset mortgage payments.

What if your priorities shift?

But it wasn’t long before we grew tired of the commute and yearned for more of a lifestyle near our friends in the city. No longer was the type of home the most important thing, it was the location. So, we sold our house and bought a smaller two-bedroom condo townhome in The Beach. In the four years we had owned our Ajax home, we had built some equity, which helped fund our lifestyle switch.

We owned our condo town in The Beach for 10 years, but then our priorities shifted again. Ready for a year-long sabbatical, we left our jobs, sold our home and sailed our boat down to the Bahamas for 13 months. It was a much-needed change.

How do you start over?

Of course, when we came back in 2006, we had to find a way into the market all over again. Our sabbatical had depleted much of our funds and while Madalin was able to return to her job, Matt was hungry for a change and set about getting his real estate licence.

It was important enough to us to become homeowners again that we decided to suck it up and scraped together enough money to buy a one-bedroom condo in the Beach. A roomy three-bedroom detached home this was not, but it was a compromise we were willing to make to start climbing that property ladder again.

We stayed in that apartment for two years and as Matt’s real estate career grew and we built more equity, we saved again until we were able to buy a second property in 2009. This was a two-bedroom condo townhome that we were able to grow into.

But we really wanted that three-bedroom home and we wanted it in The Beach. Continuing to buckle down and save, by 2015 we found the home we wanted and could afford. It meant selling the townhome, but through it all we were able to hang onto that one-bedroom condo as a rental property.

Can everyone do this?

Is our situation unique? Of course not.

Granted, not everyone can turn to the bank of Mom and Dad, and neither did we the second time around. But we were willing to practice delayed gratification to sock away as much as we could for a down payment. And we were willing to compromise on home size in order to take that first step on the ladder, knowing we’d eventually climb higher to afford the type of home we really wanted.

So, if home ownership is your goal, do whatever it takes to get to that first rung. Once you’re on the ladder, it becomes much easier to climb it. If that means you drive out of the city until you can afford to buy, or you buy a tiny condo so you can stay in the city core, choose the priority that’s most important to you and start climbing.

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