Take the Pledge!

Yesterday it was announced that the newly formed Highbury Canco had signed a letter of intent to step in and operate the iconic Heinz factory in Leamington.  Assuming everything goes as it should, it is certainly good news for the town of Leamington as many farmers will continue to grow their tomatoes and some employees will be able to stay on the job.  Moreover the factory will be bustling this fall as wagons roll into town with their harvest and the scent of processing tomatoes will once again hang in the air.

When the announcement that Heinz was going to cease operations at the factory was made last November, a citizen group formed the Leamington Stands Strong movement.  LSS describes itself as  “a community-based, non-partisan, volunteer initiative created in response to the shut-down of the Heinz plant in Leamington.” Their mission is “to keep Leamington strong by encouraging the community to buy local products and support local businesses, which will lessen the negative economic impacts of the closure.”  Essex county is one of the most productive agricultural areas in North America.  The economic impact of supporting and purchasing food products is really quite remarkable.  According to LSS, “if every Windsor/Essex household spent just $10 per week more on LOCAL products and services, that would be an additional INVESTMENT of $1.5 million in our economy weekly, which is $78 million annually!” Economic impact aside, local produce is fresher and fresh tastes better!

In an effort to encourage the locavore movement, LSS has on their site a pledge form that asks participants to support local business whenever and wherever possible.  While yesterday’s announcement is great news for the community it does not diminish the need to support local producers and find the ability to strengthen the community from within!  We are taking the LSS pledge and are encouraging everyone else in the community to do so.  If you’re near the office, come on in and sign the form.  We’d love to chat about the advantages of going local.  You can also download a copy, to give to your friends, family and neighbours.

LSS Pledge

For a great resource on what’s being produced locally check out the following link.  It’s quite an expansive list!  We’re excited to hear that many tomato farmers and processors are going to continue to be able to do what they’ve been doing well for over a century at Heinz.  We’re also excited to take on the challenge of discovering and meeting local producers year and beyond.


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Great Starter Family Home

We just finished uploading a wonderful family home for sale at 65 Marlborough Street W in Leamington.  Looks can really be deceiving when viewing a home from the outside. You’ll be amazed at how much space there is here!  The kitchen and dining area have recently been renovated and now feature lofted cathedral ceilings.  There are 3 bedrooms on the first and second floors with the possibility of having two more in the basement.  There’s a nicely fenced rear yard that also has a large garage/shop for the hobbyist.  Action priced at $139,900 it won’t last long so Contact Us today for your personal tour.

Play VisualTour



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Listing Updates – a few sold signs

Just a quick update on some of the turnover in our inventory from over the holidays.

We knew this gorgeous end unit townhouse in Kingsville wouldn’t last long and we were right.  It sold within 3 weeks!


We sold this nice semi at 4 Hayward as well.

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We also sold this great starter home in Wheatley.

120 Baird2

Want to see your home on this page?  Contact us today and we’ll get it sold!


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Essex County the Safest Place to Live in Canada!

An article published by the Windsor Star suggests that Essex County might just be the safest place to live in Canada.  According to the Star, “the crime severity index analyzes crime statistics from communities and looks at volume of crimes as well as the severity of crimes committed. More violent crimes are given heavier weight. The seriousness of a crime can be determined by the sentence given the offender”.   In looking at these figures for municipalities with 10,000 or more people, Amherstburg, LaSalle, Tecumseh and Lakeshore are 4 of the top 5 safest places to live.  More serious offences have a greater impact on the index”.  Kingsville was also in the top 10 while Essex and Leamington were also ranked reasonably high on the list.

Top 10 safest communities of 239 in Canada with populations over 10,000.

1. Amherstburg

2. LaSalle

3. Meaford, Ont.

4. Tecumseh

5. Lakeshore

6. Wellington County

7. Rothesay Region, N.B.

8. Upper Ottawa Valley

9. Mississippi Mills

10. Kingsville

15. Essex

36. Leamington

149. Windsor

Given the safety of our communities, our proximity to great recreation, some of the most reasonable real estate prices in the country, why would you want to live anywhere else!?!



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Back up and running

Yesterday was a day when we truly felt lucky as on office.  A local landmark, the old Village Inn, caught fire around 5:30am.  Our office and it’s rear parking lot were only separated by one building from the major blaze which drew fire crews in from Leamington, Kingsville and Lakeshore.  Thanks to their great work, the fire stayed contained to the old bar and we escaped with barely a hint of smoke in our building.  Here are a couple of pictures of the damage.

The view from our parking lot.

The office of the Ontario Fire Marshall is on scene today.

Now the cleanup begins.


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School Boundary and Bus Resource

We thought it would be useful to pass along a great resource we recently discovered which is provided by the Greater Essex County District School Board.  www.buskids.ca is a website run by the Windsor Essex Student Transportation Service which provides a wealth of information on busing such as information on their operators, safety guidelines and the policies they adhere to.   One nice feature is that it also provides up to date information on inclement weather and possible delays to bus service.  From a real estate perspective though, it has a geoquery which allows you to determine which school your child will go to through a quick address search.  It also provides school information/boundary maps as well as a transportation eligibility search field.  This information is very useful if you’re thinking about moving but do not want to move your child from their current school.

New Mortgage Rules Announced

In a news conference in Ottawa, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced a major shift in mortgage regulation in Canada aiming to promote long term stability in the real estate market.  Homeowners and people looking to purchase a home should pay particular attention to the 4 major changes put forth today.

  • The maximum amortization period has been shortened from 30 to 25 years
  • The maximum amount of equity a homeowner can take out when refinancing has been reduced from 85% to 80%
  • The availability of insured mortgages will be limited to homes with a purchase price of under $1 million
  • The maximum Gross Debt Service Ratio will be fixed at 39% and the maximum Total Debt Service Ratio will be set to 44%

These regulatory changes are set to take effect July 9, 2012 and were implemented to help reduce the overall debt levels that Canadians have been taking in recent years.   These measures seem to be primarily targeted at the red hot condo markets in major centres such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.  They will, however,  have an impact locally as lower interest rates and generally easy access to financing have both influenced a modest recovery in the Windsor-Essex region in the first half of 2012.  If you are considering purchasing a home, please contact us to discuss how the regulations might impact your situation.

For a good editorial analysis of today’s announcement, please see the following article in the globe and mail.



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Court Ruling Good News for Home Buyers

There was a good article in the Toronto Star last week that might be of interest to anyone thinking of buying a home.*  Today, a home inspection clause has become almost standard when drafting an agreement of purchase.  Once an agreement has been signed, this condition gives a buyer the chance to contract the services of an inspector who in theory conducts a thorough inspection of the property and identifies any potential problem areas in and around the home.  If a buyer does not find the report satisfactory, they then have the option of not completing the transaction.

But what happens if a buyer who has contracted the services of an inspector closes a transaction based on a report which found no evidence of a problem – say for instance mould – and 3 months later finds out that there was in fact hidden extensive damage.  Unfortunately for the buyer, the wording of a home inspection contract typically states that the inspector’s liability is limited to the cost of the inspection which is usually minute compared to the cost of remediating undiscovered damage to a property.

The article references a case similar to this scenario.  Based on the evidence presented in court,  it was ruled that  “the inspector should have known that the damaged concrete and driveway at the front of the home could result in leaks to the foundation which could eventually cause mould, which would be especially problematic for someone who was allergic to it.” The inspector was ordered to pay 50% of the costs to fix the problem while the buyer’s agent was also held responsible for 25% of the costs.  On appeal however, in a decision released last month, the Ontario Appeal Court decided that“the home inspector should pay all of the loss. It was too much to ask a real estate agent or a buyer to make the connection that defects in the concrete and driveway at the front of the house could somehow later lead to mould.

The buyers were somewhat lucky in that the inspector did not fully detail the limited liability clause in the inspection agreement.  This is however a landmark case given that the inspector was deemed to be responsible for the entire cost of the remediation.

At R.A. Critchlow Realty Inc., we believe in performing all due diligence to ensure our clients are fully informed when they purchase an interest in real estate.  We often recommend inspections above and beyond a standard home inspection on a range of potential problems including but not limited to septic systems, HVAC and electrical.  We also have relationships with some of the best contractors in the area to help you with these services.  At the end of the day though, a buyer places a lot of trust in an inspection when they purchase a home.  This article is a good sign for the real estate market as a whole as it holds inspectors to a higher standard and shows a potential new recourse for when their work is deemed to be negligent.




The Case For Windsor-Essex as a Cottage Destination

There was a great article in the Globe and Mail this weekend (http://bit.ly/JsrSS5).  Being as it was Victoria Day Weekend, they ran a story on perils of cottage commuting for GTA residents. The article suggests alternative means to get to cottage country including rediscovering the lost of art of map reading and backroad driving, using the train and even chartering a small jet.  But here’s another suggestion – why not re-think the notion of a cottage destination all together. The Leamington and Windsor-Essex region has a lot to offer those looking to get away from the congestion and you don’t need a plane to get here!  Here are just a few reasons to consider this area as an alternative to Muskoka, Barrie, Kingston and the Kawarthas as a place to spend your recreational time.

Geographic Location;

  • Windsor-Essex is the southernmost region in Canada and shares the same latitude as Girona Spain, The Island of Corsica in France and Cape Cod Massachusetts in the United States.
  • The region is completely surrounded by the temperature moderating influences of Lake Erie, leading to the region’s designation as the 100 mile peninsula.  The area enjoys not only great boating but also some of the best perch and pickerel fishing around.
  • Every spring, travellers from all around the globe flock to the region and Point Pelee Nation Park in particular to experience some of the best birding in North America. Many return in the fall to catch the monarch butterfly migration.
  • The region has seen an explosion in agri-tourism over the last few years.  Essex County has the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America.  Fruit stands dominate the rural landscape here and as such it is tough to find fresher tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers anywhere.  Vineyards are also a big part of this industry as wineries of the Lake Erie North Shore (LENS) are gaining a global reputation.
  • At 350km from Toronto, the region is closer than you think.  As you might soon discover, the traffic volume is much lighter the further west you get from the GTA meaning you spend more time driving rather versus getting stuck in a traffic jam.

Real Estate Market;

  • Simply put, your recreation dollar goes a lot further here as the region has some of the most affordable housing in the entire country.  A study by a local retirement recruitment group shows has put together a nice comparison on where the region ranks in terms of affordability. (http://bit.ly/KkIWx6)
  • Waterfront properties cost a fraction of what they do in more traditionally defined cottage locations.  For the price of a small condominium in Toronto you can own a waterfront property with views that rival some of the nicest in the province.
  • Treed lots and hobby farms are also in strong supply meaning you can own a piece of the country for less.

In summary, if you’re from the GTA or places in between and are looking for a cottage retreat but are unwilling to pay the price of Muskoka real estate or to fight the traffic to cottage country, why not consider the Windsor-Essex region?  Give our office a call at 519-326-6154 or fill out the contact form below.  We’d love to host you on a tour of the area to show you why we think it is an undiscovered gem.

The boardwalk at Point Pelee National Park.

A Scarlet Tanager perched on branch.


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Backyard Birding

Birding season is upon us and by just spending a relaxing lunch in the backyard, it becomes quickly evident why so many people from around the world flock to Leamington and Point Pelee this time of year.  Here’s a quick example of some of the birds you might encounter … if you’re quiet enough.

A cardinal perched in a maple tree.

An Oriel sitting on a fence.  Wonder if he’s headed to Baltimore…..


A Red-Winged Blackbird enjoying a snack.

For more information about birding in the Leamington area, please visit http://friendsofpointpelee.com/festivalofbirds-home .