Custom kitchens: what’s new, what’s hot, what’s smart.

It’s no secret: the kitchen is likely the hardest-working room in your house, and if you ask us, it should be one of the best looking, too. That’s why, when it comes to kitchens, we like to show off a little.

At Marshall Homes, we’re not about run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter kitchens. For our detached homes, it’s all about custom. In fact, we encourage our customers to go right to the source!

We’ve teamed up with custom kitchen wizards AyA Kitchen Gallery to make sure the kitchen in your Marshall home looks great and functions even better. We’ll help you pick one of our customizable plans then if you’d like to customize your kitchen to fit your tastes and your life, we’ll make it happen. Thankfully, in the world of custom kitchens, there are nearly endless options for adding beauty and smart function to your kitchen.

To help inspire your new home, check out a few of the custom touches we’re loving right now:

Stylish Surfaces

With so much happening in the kitchen, from food prep to entertaining, it should be a space you and your guests gravitate towards day after day. How to make sure that happens? Choose the right finishes; they can transform the vibe of the room.

When it comes to countertops, granite has been the go-to for years, and it’s a solid choice. (See what we did there?). But there’s a newcomer on the scene shaking things up. Quartz comes in an impressive range of colors, from neutral grey to bold blue, and finishes, from sleek and shiny to matte and suede-like. Go traditional with a rounded or reverse waterfall edge or more contemporary with a raw-edge look. Super durable, it resists scratching and cracking, and unlike natural stone, it’s virtually maintenance-free, with no need for regular sealing.

In the world of backsplashes, tiles are still a mainstay, but think outside the ceramic box and opt for natural stone or mirrored surfaces for an extra boost of style in your custom kitchen.

While clean and classic white subway tiles will always be a winner in the kitchen, patterns (think: hexagon, chevron and herringbone) are coming on the scene in a big way. (That little pop of pattern looks fab against a neutral quartz countertop.) Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, foray into metal—a pretty hammered copper is a popular option—or choose a colored backsplash to add a pop of personality and color into an otherwise neutral space.

For flooring, hardwoods are always in style. Keep them fresh by choosing the right finish. Opt for a grey-toned driftwood look with a bit of texture, if you’re looking for something low maintenance and less fussy. The only hard and fast rule here? Stay away from the warm, honey-toned shades and anything too glossy. You can’t go wrong with neutrals; they’re timeless. And for a really current look opt for greys and light coloured white oak.

Fabulous Fixtures

Fixtures serve a largely utilitarian purpose, but they should up your style quotient, too. Think of them like a statement piece for your kitchen—an accessory that can pull together the whole look of your space.

Brushed nickel and stainless steel are a safe choice when it comes to fixtures, but if you’re hoping to keep your selections up-to-the-minute try gold or flat black. These aren’t your grandmother’s dated, overpowering, overly-shiny and, well, overly-brassy fixtures. The updated versions are understated and modern, hinting at luxury.

If gold isn’t your thing, but you still want something striking, black fixtures are your new best friend, like the little black dress of the kitchen. The smooth finish is fresh and crisp. And the best part? It won’t suffer from fingerprints and water spot marks like some other finishes. (Stainless steel we’re looking at you.)

Smart Storage Solutions

With open concept being a mainstay in home design, the look of your kitchen needs to meld seamlessly into the rest of your decor. That means the clutter on the countertops has to go. Because who wants to see the blender you used to make smoothies in the morning while entertaining over cocktails in the evening? Since you can’t just ditch those kitchen appliances, storage solutions are clutch.

When you design a custom kitchen with us, your built-in storage choices are nearly endless, from pull-out drawers for storing heavy pots and pans to cookie tray and cutting board cubbies and hidden waste cabinets.

Beyond the basic storage components, you can opt for a server, the perfect spot for entertaining buffet-style. Or, use it as a built-in drink bar to make easy work of mixing those pre-dinner aperitifs or prepping coffee in the morning. If a walk-in pantry to keep all of your appliances and ingredients concealed but handy is in your dream kitchen, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Ready to start creating the custom kitchen of your dreams? Here’s the perfect opportunity…

Freshen Up: Ten tips for renewing your style for the next stage of your life

If you’ve been stuck in a decorating rut for the last decade (or two), here’s some amazing news: Encore will be your opportunity to up your style.

Just as our tastes in fashion and food can change over the years, so can our individual decorating styles. Maybe you once loved more traditional details but now you crave a clean, streamlined approach.

Or, maybe you leaned towards vivid colors and now it’s neutrals all the way. And it isn’t only aesthetic preferences that shift; it’s likely the way you use your spaces have morphed over time, as well. (Three cheers for change!)

Helping people find their new style that works for them, both in form and function, is one of our passions here at Port 32. Over the years our various models homes have inspired fresh design and decor directions for more than a few our homebuyers. So as we eagerly anticipate the launch of Encore, we’re sharing our best tips so that you can start to envision your ideal environment.

Make a plan

Whether you want to totally revamp your style or just freshen things up a bit, it can be hard to get started. The key to success is finding your vision. Think beyond architectural styles and consider instead how you want your home to feel. (Of course, it’s a given your home at Encore will feel light and bright and spacious—the plentiful windows, vaulted ceilings and open floor plan will see to that.)

To pinpoint your vision, ask questions like, “Do I want a space that is cozy and restful or one that exudes energy?” “Will I entertain often or just host an occasional guest?” These types of questions will help you create intentional spaces that function well for the way you live in your new home.

Go easy

The best part of this new stage of life is you can spend less (or zero!) time working and more time enjoying the things you love. And, unless you’re Mr. Clean, scrubbing your interiors probably isn’t one of the things you hope to do with your newfound freedom.

At Encore, all of your finishes can fit you and your lifestyle. Customizing your home with hardworking, easy-to-maintain finishes, such as hardwood floors, granite countertops and low-sheen paints will allow you to spend more time golfing or gardening and less time maintaining your spaces.

Edit, edit, edit

It’s no secret that living in the same place for a number of years you inevitably collect what can be an overwhelming amount of “stuff.” So many of our purchasers used the move to Port 32 the catalyst finally to pare down your belongings. If it is no longer beautiful or useful to you, let it go. Starting with a clean slate will open up room for things you truly love and reflect you in this new chapter.

Keep it neutral

The interiors at Encore are made for today’s casual lifestyle. The open concept design combines the kitchen and dining areas with the living room, allowing you and your guests to flow freely through the spaces. To keep a cohesive flow from room to room, opt for a neutral palette and create visual interest with textures instead.

Get inspired

Let this new chapter bring a fresh perspective. Look to your favorite magazines, websites, or places you visit to find styles that resonate. What stands out to you? What turns you off? Create a folder with clippings from your favorite magazines, or do as we do here at the Port 32 sales centre and fire up a Pinterest board to help guide your design and decoration decisions.

Don’t let it (all) go

Holding onto those furnishings and accessories that speak to you, whether it’s a family heirloom or a piece of art you picked up on a memorable trip, will give your new space an instant sense of meaning and collected-over-time look. (Tip: Your new home at Encore can be customized to accommodate and highlight your special belongings, whether it’s an antique buffet or a collection of baskets.)

Put your interests on display

Personalize your spaces by including elements that speak to your favorite hobbies and activities. If you love to read, create comfortable reading nooks throughout your home and arrange books artfully on shelves and tables. Love to paint? Put your artwork on display. Do you enjoy the outdoors? Incorporate natural elements, such as wood and stone into your finishes and decor.

Accessorize like an expert

Breathe new life into a space instantly with textiles and accessories. Encore’s contemporary spaces are the perfect canvas for creating a relaxed feel. Trade heavy draperies for sheer curtain panels. Choose cotton or sisal area rugs in neutral colors for a casual look. Add a punch of color and texture with throw pillows and blankets. Never underestimate the power of fresh flowers or a new candle to transform a space. It’s always the little things that seem to bring it all together.

Enjoy the journey

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and perfectly decorated interiors won’t be either. Just as you gathered things over time to make your previous house your home, expect the same as you re-enter the decorating process. Allow your home at Encore to evolve over time by gradually collecting pieces that read well with your new style story. Every layer you add is like a new chapter in your style story.

Style your spaces with confidence

Over the years, you’ve had time to learn what you love and what you’re happy to say adios to. And that’s a great thing! You can make design and decor choices with confidence, knowing this isn’t your first rodeo and that every home at Encore is the perfect canvas for creating beautiful, stylish spaces you’ll love for years to come.

The Altona Towns – Take a look!

Located across the street from Altona Forest, The Altona Towns with its mix of stone and brick is both modern and warm — in harmony with its setting.

With only 27, 3-bedroom townhomes set in four small blocks, The Altona Towns is an intimate community. Our sales office is now open. You’ll find directions, hours, floor plans and prices here.

If you haven’t registered yet be sure to do so here. 

Now, let’s take a look at The Altona Towns…









How to be ready when the perfect home presents itself

If you’ve been to the launch of a new housing community, you’ll know emotions can run high from excitement to frustration.

As demand for new homes continues at historic levels, grand openings can see huge lineups and as you’ve likely seen in news stories, free-for-alls.

Out of respect for you and your time, we plan our launches to try to encourage the excitement and limit the frustration.

Here are a few pro tips so you can arrive prepared and avoid disappointment:

Are you “registered”? That means you’re on our email list. The people on our list will be the first to know about important things like launch dates, presentation centre location, and links to secure a coveted time slot in advance (if applicable). Those details go out via email so be sure you’re on the list.

Mortgage pre-approval letter. You’ll need to bring your mortgage pre-approval letter with you to the opening. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is win-win. You want to know exactly how much you can borrow so you know what you can afford and to ensure you don’t overspend. And as your home builder, we want to know that you will qualify for a mortgage when your new home is ready. If this is your first mortgage, you may find our Mortgage 101 article handy. Be sure to book your appointment with your bank in advance of opening day.

Certified cheque or bank draft. Please bring a certified cheque or bank draft in the amount of $10,000. This is the initial deposit on your new home. The fees for drafts and certified cheques can vary so you may want to ask which has the lower fee.

Personal cheques. Be sure to bring your chequebook (with at least 3 cheques). These post-dated cheques will make up the balance of your down payment. The current deposit schedule for The Altona Towns nows provides an extra 60 days to complete your deposit as follows*:

  • $10,000 certified cheque or bank draft upon signing the agreement (as outlined above).
  • Balance of 5% in 30 days
  • 2.5 % in 60 days
  • 2.5% in 180 days
  • 5% on occupancy

All cheques should be payable to Harris, Sheaffer LLP (in trust)

Photo ID. And last but not least, you’ll need to bring government-issued photo ID. Things like your passport, driver’s license or health card are all acceptable.

And that, in a nutshell, is how to arrive prepared. You’ll be ready to seize the day and capitalize on the excitement of a new home.

*Subject to change. Please confirm with our sales team.

Pickering By The Numbers: 10 Real Estate Stats to Help You Decide

Deciding where to buy a home is a tough decision. Do you stay in your current neighbourhood, or venture outside your postal code in search of a property that ticks off more of your must-haves?

One of the biggest struggles potential homebuyers wrestle with is the market, especially if the property is in a location you’re not familiar with. You want to know if the market is going up, if it’s going down, if there is too much supply or if there is too much demand.

Luckily there’s a lot of data available on the state of the housing marketing. We’ve done the research for you and compiled ten important findings to help you better understand the market and the opportunities we think will help you feel good about Pickering as a real estate investment. So let’s jump in.

1. Demand: Townhouses remain very popular in Pickering, with the 160 under construction in September, representing the highest level since 2013 (CMHC). If you’re considering a townhouse, you’re in good company. Everyone wants to buy something others will want down the road.

2. Supply: Looking at the wider Pickering/Ajax/Uxbridge area, of the 851 new homes completed in the last 12 months (of all types), only four are unsold — and not a townhouse among them. What’s the takeaway? Almost everything sells before they’re completed. Buyers are getting in on opportunities early.

3. Bang for buck: According to Altus Data Solutions, the average new townhouse available in Pickering will cost you $440 per-square-foot (psf), compared to $1,100 psf for the average condominium apartment in downtown Toronto. You get more bang for your buck in Pickering … and you don’t have to pay extra for a parking spot.

4. Price appreciation: According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the average new single-detached house that was completed and sold in September 2017 was $933,283, an increase of 14.4% annually. Double-digit price gains indicate that demand is far exceeding supply, and waiting to buy could cost you.

5. Resale strength: According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average resale property in Pickering sold for 105% of the list price in September, and it took just 13 days on average to sell a home. In the current market climate, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your future home has strong resale value.

6. Townhouses are popular: According to the MLS House Price Index, townhouses in Pickering have increased by 9.3% annually. Buyers are looking to maximize their indoor square footage, often at the expense of a side yard. Townhouses continue to gain market share.

7. Relative affordability: According to, Pickering is ranked 18th of 23 municipalities in terms of average resale house price, an indication of how affordable the city is. In comparison to the adjacent municipalities to the west, Pickering is still very affordable.

8. Top 5 for sales: Over the past 30 days, Pickering is tied for the 5th fastest selling municipality in the GTA for resale housing ( It shouldn’t be a surprise that the more affordable homes in Pickering are selling very quickly in the high-priced Greater Toronto Area market.

9. Easy commute: According to GO Transit, it takes 28 minutes to get from Union Station to the Pickering Go Station on an express train. It might take you that long to go three blocks on a downtown streetcar during rush hour, the commute is quite manageable.

10. Compare: Nearby Markham, less than 20 minutes from Pickering, will cost you $300,000 more on the the price of a home, based on average housing values from

With changes coming to the mortgage qualification rules in January, it will become that much more difficult to afford the home you really want. Buyers will flock to markets with the most affordable homes as they find themselves further priced out of their current communities. Pickering will be a market drawing even more attention, a small community with big data and enormous potential.

How Do I Get a Mortgage?

If you’ve never owned a home before, you may not be too familiar with mortgages and what you need to do to get one. The first step is to understand what a mortgage is. So let’s start there.

The basics: what a mortgage is…

The common definition states that “a mortgage is a loan secured by real property.” You will be borrowing money to buy a home and a Charge (a legal document that outlines the terms of the loan) is registered on the title of the property to secure the loan. A lender will require this security in case the borrower defaults on their loan.

That might sound a little technical and scary, but it isn’t. In most cases, a homebuyer will take out a mortgage on a portion of the home’s price. If you have saved $40,000, and intend to use it to purchase a property, subtract that amount from the home’s price and that will be the amount of your mortgage, often called the mortgage principal.

A typical first-time buyer will take a 25-year mortgage (the amortization period – how many years it will take you to pay it off) with a 5-year term. A term is the amount of time before the mortgage contract must be prepaid or renegotiated. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay back the full amount in five years, when the term expires, a lender will typically offer a new 5-year contract with the same or new interest rate, depending on the lending environment at the time.

As you might expect, a lending institution wants to make a profit from providing you with a mortgage, and they accomplish that by charging you interest. The interest rate is a fee paid to the lender for borrowing money. An interest rate can be fixed, meaning it doesn’t change for the entire term, or variable, which means the interest rate charged varies as market interest rates change. If you choose a variable rate, your payments will vary as well. Many first-time buyers choose a fixed rate as they know what their payment will be throughout their mortgage term, which helps them budget accordingly.

If you’re putting down less than 20% of the purchase price, you’ll also need mortgage insurance of about 2.8% to 4% of the purchase price. Most lenders will simply add that fee to your mortgage payment and make it easy for you.

Now that you know the mortgage basics, it is fun to play around with the numbers to get a sense of how much you can afford based on your expected monthly payment. TD has a great mortgage calculator on their website (here), where you can plug in your expected principal, interest rate and term, amortization period, and how often you want to pay per month. Paying weekly will save you interest, but you may prefer paying monthly.

Getting “pre-approved” (and how to do it…)

However, before you go out and buy a home, it is advisable to get pre-approval from a bank or other mortgage lender. You want to know exactly how much you can borrow so you know what you can afford and to ensure you don’t overspend. You should be aware that recent changes to the mortgage rules in Ontario require a borrower to qualify for a mortgage at a rate approximately 2% higher than your contracted rate, keep that in mind when you’re punching numbers into the mortgage calculator before you start the approval process.

There is a couple of different options:

  • You can go directly to your existing bank. Be sure you bring details on any accounts that you don’t have at that bank (and your significant other if you’re buying with them). You’ll want to have a letter of employment with your salary, plus any other details on your income, assets, and debts (i.e. student loans or car payments).
  • Another option is to work with a mortgage broker, a practicing professional who assesses a borrower’s financial goals, and acts as an intermediary with several lenders to try to land you the best deal. If you are self-employed or new to Canada, working with a mortgage broker can help you connect with lenders that specialize in these types of buyers. Mortgage brokers are experts when it comes to comparing interest rates, mortgage terms, default insurance, and title insurance.
  • When buying a new home, you also have a third option, many banks offer special deals to builders and developers given their access to a multitude of interested buyers. At Altona Towns, TD Bank will offer qualified buyers a special interest rate, which is capped until the homes are completed and occupied.

It wouldn’t hurt to explore all three mortgage options to ensure you fully understand what you can afford, how much a lender will allow you to borrow, how much you have to pay on a monthly basis, and the various options you have to choose from given those constraints. Getting a pre-approval doesn’t bind you to that lender, if you come across a better deal before you close on a home, you can take it!

Turning your pre-Approval into a mortgage

Once you’ve made your decision on your new home, take your Agreement of Purchase and Sale to your preferred lender and they’ll prepare everything for you, and ensure you have the mortgage funds you need when you move into your dream home.



What Tesla and Marshall Homes have in common

Building better, more efficient homes has been part of our mission for decades. But with energy costs double what they were a decade ago, it’s never been more important.

When it comes to energy efficiency and green building practices, we’re no Johnny-Come-Lately’s. Building better, more efficient homes has been part of our mission for decades. But with energy costs double what they were a decade ago, it’s never been more important.

That’s why we brought our latest cutting-edge initiative to The Atlona Towns.

In this 27-townhome community, we are bringing together our earth-conscious building philosophy with new technology from Tesla. A cursory look around the community reveals clues there is something different about this place. Solar panels on the roofs and an on-site Tesla battery capable of powering the entire community are obvious giveaways.


By now, it’s no secret Ontarians pay the highest electricity rates in the country, and costs are still on the rise. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: We are determined to disrupt the status quo. We are continuing our role as a major player in the the energy efficiency scene by infusing Altona Towns with the latest in clean energy home technology.

At the core of the movement is the microgrid.

Don’t let the jargony, techno-term throw you off. A microgrid is simply a small-scale electric grid with its own generation source. While each of the residences in Altona Towns will be traditionally powered and solar powered, the microgrid is the real game-changer. It relies on an enormous battery—created by technology powerhouse Tesla—to store electricity. Being tied to an on-site microgrid will allow the community to disconnect from the main grid and operate autonomously when necessary.

Here are just a few of the perks of independent electric energy storage The Altona Town residents can expect:

1. Reduced energy costs*

Did you hear that collective sigh of relief? Ontarians weary of skyrocketing energy bills catch a break in Altona Towns. As a direct result of the community’s solar-plus-storage solution, homeowners will save roughly ten percent on their hydro bills. So, while the rest of Ontarians bills are going up, up, up; Altona Towns residents will welcome reduced rates. (Exact savings will vary based on a number of to-be-determined factors.)

2. Positive environmental impact

Thanks to solar power and energy storage being integrated into the community’s operation, Altona Towns will effectively produce fewer carbon emissions and lessen the strain on the main grid—great news for the environment and green-energy conscious consumers who want to take tangible steps towards meaningful conservation.

3. Increased reliability

If an impending winter storm has ever sent you into a frenzy of preparation (and on a hunt for a battery-operated radio and flashlights), listen up. Temporary, widespread service interruptions (which could happen when events like stormy or windy weather disrupt the distribution grid) will be a thing of the past at The Altona Towns. When the main electric grid experiences a hiccup, the microgrid kicks in to keep the juice flowing.

(Bonus: Beyond these three benefits and others, future buyers will earn bragging rights: as a demonstration project built in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Energy’s Smart Grid Fund, The Altona Towns is the first Canadian community of its kind.)

While The Altona Towns is clearly on a fast track to the future, there are still some things about the revolutionary community that echoes the past—namely, Marshall Home’s history of quality, well-built homes. Buyers can expect to find open concept, modern interiors within the three-bedroom townhomes, along with plenty of modern amenities and on-site green space.

But what may be the best part about Marshall Homes’ newest development is the peace of mind that comes with an investment in The Altona Towns. When people take a step into the future by purchasing one of the town homes, they can leave behind fears over skyrocketing hydro costs and arbitrary power outages and rest assured they’re doing their part to make a positive move towards building a greener, more sustainable world.

It’s one more reason to be excited about our latest community. Are you on the list? Register and we’ll keep you in the loop with all the details.


* Pending government approval

407 ETR: Another reason to bet on the Kawarthas

Kawartha Region offers beauty, accessibility and strong investment potential thanks to rising property values.

The prettiest patches of fresh water you’ll ever see. The soothing call of the loon. Nothing but relaxation for miles around. Summer vacations in cottage country are the best. But, actually getting to a lakeside retreat can be a different story.

If you’ve ever hit the road on a Friday afternoon during cottage season, you know the misery that is Highway 400. For years, cottage owners craving the luxury lifestyle and social scene of the Muskokas have paid the price of crawling through a bumper-to-bumper procession for hours on end. (For Americans not familiar with the area, Muskoka is the Canadian equivalent of the Hamptons or Cape Cod.)


For many prospective owners looking to purchase a recreational property outside the GTA, the traffic snarls into the Muskokas have become a deal breaker—and one of the reasons why the Kawarthas are now the lakeside destination of choice whether you’re building your cottage dream house or settling into one of the new, luxury retirement homes in the area.

It’s no secret that the relative ease of heading into the Kawarthas has long made the area a better bet. But, now, an expanded road network is set to make the jaunt from the city to the cottage of your dreams — or the drive into the city from your retirement paradise in the Kawarthas — even better. That’s right, mind-numbing standstills are nearly a thing of the past. (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.)

You’ll be going from desk to dock in record time

The Highway 407 project is responsible for the area’s improved accessibility. From downtown Toronto or the west end, soon you’ll be able to hop on the 407 and forget about traffic jams. Even with only the Highway 412 extension linking Highways 401 and 407 currently open, the escape from desk to dock (or back into the city) is already much improved. It’s a painless two-hour jaunt to or from the GTA. The impending connection of Highway 407 to Highway 115/35 (a four-lane highway) that is set to debut in the fall of 2019 will be another boon to the local commute.


(Note: While you can expect tolls on the new network of roads, if you’re located in Pickering and East-of-Toronto, you’ll benefit from lower tolls on the the provincially-owned 412 (and portions of the 407), as compared to the privately-owned 407 Express Toll Route.)

Not surprisingly, there is a clear correlation between the Kawarthas’ improved accessibility and rising property values. During the economic downturn of the last decade, it wasn’t unusual for properties to sit through a season or two. Today, the market is thriving, and the ease of access is just one factor behind the rising interest. Young families and retirees alike are being drawn in from Toronto and surrounding areas by the promise of lower costs of living combined with excellent services and a relaxed lifestyle. Likewise, Americans coming in to take advantage of the strong U.S. dollar and purchase recreational properties are also driving up demand.

And, it’s no wonder why the area is seeing a spike in popularity. Gorgeous scenery, a friendly vibe and an abundance of activities are the ideal trifecta for those searching for a vacation destination or year-round living. While the Kawartha region still maintains the simple feel of small-town life, it has just enough of a big city edge to stay interesting. In growing hotspots like Bobcaygeon, you’ll find shops and restaurants embracing the artisanal movement, along with entertaining options like festivals, fairs and concerts. Of course, opportunity for rural pursuits, like farmers’ markets, boating, fishing and snowmobiling area are always in abundance.


The Kawarthas’ intrinsic allure and improving accessibility make now the time to move—literally and figuratively.

If you’re looking at the Kawarthas as a place to build your next home or cottage, there are two opportunities you should know about:

Encore at Port 32

Thinking about retiring to the Kawarthas? Set on the shores of Pigeon Lake amidst one the Kawartha’s favourite towns — Bobcaygeon, we will be building 33 well appointed and impeccably finished homes in a park-like setting and an established community of happy, welcoming people that make for fast friends. We expect these homes to sell quickly so we advise signing up to get updates.


The Millennial Housing Dilemma, Buy for Fun or Buy for the Future?

You’ve made up your mind, it’s time to buy your first home, but where do you start? Purchasing your first property can be a daunting task. The first step should be a visit to your bank to see what you can realistically afford. You’ve likely been dreaming of your first home for several years, but be realistic, you won’t get everything you want the first time around, don’t be this guy:

Setting your budget will help you narrow your search, but the next big consideration is location. Do you want a skyline view or a backyard?

Let’s take a closer look at Option A: The Downtown Condo

Downtown Toronto may sound appealing, with its array of bars, nightclubs, and trendy shops, but a new condominium in the Entertainment District will run you $500,000 for just 500 square feet. Add in a parking spot at $75,000, a locker at $7,000, two land transfer taxes, and a hefty monthly maintenance fee. You’ll be paying a lot for the “fun” of downtown living and that high-rise view, assuming you can afford the additional $1,000 per floor premium and clear the neighbouring towers. When deciding where and what to buy, you should not only think about your current needs, but your future needs as well.

It won’t be long before you find that tiny condo is a little too crowded, that elevator ride is a little too long, and that spiral underground parking ramp extremely annoying. You’ll find yourself looking for a bigger, hassle-free home. You might think that moving isn’t expensive because you’ll just buy your uncle a case a beer to hall all of your stuff for you, but there are a lot more costs. A Realtor’s commission can cost you over $10,000, you will need a lawyer to review your sales contract, and you may have to pay to break your existing mortgage.

You might not be thinking about starting a family now, but things can change quickly. If you think housing is expensive, take a look at downtown daycare costs. If you survive those years, you might not be able find you’re a school for junior anywhere near your high-rise.

Option B: The Financial Benefits of Being Flexible

A key consideration that will save you a lot of money when buying your first home is flexibility. Perhaps a larger townhouse with a short commute is a better choice. You may not get the gimmicky condo amenities like a golf simulator, a bowling alley, a zen spa, or super high-end appliances, but you don’t really need the first three, and you can always upgrade your countertop, backsplash and refrigerator a couple years down the road. If you have a second child, need to park another car, a townhouse provides you with that level of flexibility.

As we’ve witnessed in 2017, market conditions can change quickly, and right when you want to move-up from your downtown condominium, prices might be down and the market slow. Skip a step, and make an affordable move-up now.

Marshall Homes has launched a brand new community in west Pickering, a collection of family-friendly townhouses from 1,617 square feet to 1,927 square feet. The Altona Towns may cost you more than a tiny condominium in downtown Toronto, but you’ll get two parking spaces, a backyard, three bedrooms and up to four times the space. There is only one land transfer tax in Pickering (you’ll save $8,000 to $10,000 dollars — think of what you can do with that) and you won’t have to shell out for that constantly-rising condo fee.

And importantly, you won’t need to move again next year meaning another round of legal, real estate and moving expenses to add to the tally.

Add it all up and a smart purchase today could end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s possible to get more for your money and we can help you with that.

A home at The Altona Towns will not only give you peace of mind by offering a new home warranty, you’ll have the flexibility to grow into it, and you might just have have more fun in Pickering anyway.

Building a Custom Cottage: 4 Reasons Why New Beats Old

Life is better at the cottage. No one knows this better than folks lucky enough to escape to the Kawartha Lakes. Whether you’re gathering with family and friends for a weekend of fun or escaping for a quiet respite where relaxation is the only thing on your agenda, this idyllic region, with its abundance of lakes and natural beauty, is the ideal getaway.If renting or borrowing a cottage is your usual go-to getaway plan when you head to the Kawarthas, there is one thing guaranteed to make your vacations even better: having a home away from home of your very own. But buying an existing cottage can come with a slew of issues, because, let’s be honest, old cottages come with old problems. That’s the bad news. The good news? You can create your own, new cottage with all of the benefits of a custom build and none of the hassle, stress and expense that typically comes with designing a home from scratch. Really.For more proof that building a new Marshall Homes cottage beats buying a pre-existing cottage every time, check out these the four realities of old vs. new cottages:

1. Older cottages need updating.

It’s true that an aging cottage can possess a certain charm, but even if the architecture appeals to you, old plumbing, electrical and heating systems probably don’t. In addition to the costly job of bringing these older systems up to date, replacing other worn out building features (think: insulation, roofing, and windows) can result in high, out-of-pocket expenses.

Besides the cost, let’s be real, you want to spend time enjoying your cottage, not fixing it. The last thing you want to be worrying about during a weekend getaway is replacing leaky pipes or old wiring. When you build new, you’re guaranteed quality, up-to-date materials; the only thing you’ll have to think about is whether to put up your feet and relax or seek out some family fun.

Besides the cost, let’s be real, you want to spend time enjoying your cottage, not fixing it. The last thing you want to be worrying about during a weekend getaway is replacing leaky pipes or old wiring. When you build new, you’re guaranteed quality, up-to-date materials; the only thing you’ll have to think about is whether to put up your feet and relax or seek out some family fun.

2. Newer cottages are more comfortable.

Because older cottages weren’t constructed with modern, energy efficient building techniques, they (and their inhabitants) are at the mercy of our challenging local climate where temperatures swing drastically from sweltering to freezing. The result? An uncomfortable living environment and sky-high energy bills. Relying on the latest in building innovations, Marshall Homes creates quality-built homes that respond efficiently to local climate challenges, thereby keeping you (and your wallet) comfortable, no matter the temperature.

3. Older cottages can’t be customized the way a new one can.

When you choose a pre-built cottage, it is what it is, unless you’re willing to take on expensive and time-consuming renovations. But when you build with Marshall Homes, you are in control. You’ll have the opportunity to add your own custom touches to one of our modern, livable floor plans up front. Love to cook and have a custom kitchen with specific features and finishes on your wish list? Need a basement to ensure plenty of space for family and friends? Want plenty of windows to usher in natural light and gorgeous views? Check, check and check. At Marshall Homes, we will work with you to create a custom cottage suited to fit your family, lifestyle, and budget without the hassle, stress, and cost of designing from the ground up.

4. Newer cottages can be built at your perfect location.

Whether your happy place is a stone’s throw from the lake’s edge or perched high on a hill overlooking a forest of pines, Marshall Homes can place your custom home there. No more need to compromise between the ideal property and a cottage that fits your family’s needs. When you build a new cottage, you can have your perfect property and your perfect cottage, too.Ready to start building memories? Let us help you create a cottage or home that you’ll be proud to own and share with friends and family for years to come.