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15-step Action Plan to optimize your ROI when Selling Your Home


15-step Action Plan to optimize your ROI when Selling Your Home


Is this the year you are planning to move? Every home owner arrives at this point sooner or later. It’s a big decision involving a major financial transaction so, when the time comes, you want to do it right.

If you, or anyone you know, is planning a move, here’s a 15-step action plan that can make the process easier and less stressful. 

How to get your home sold fast, at a premium price?

For most people buying a home is the single biggest investment they’ll ever make. When viewed as an investment, your home offers a major advantage over stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The profits you make on all of these investments are subject to capital gains taxes.

That’s not the case when selling your home. Any profits you make from selling your principal residence are tax-free. So, when you decide to sell, it’s worth making an extra effort to capitalize on this special opportunity to make a sizable tax-free profit.

Because profits from the sale of your home are tax free, it makes good sense to invest in upgrades before selling. In many cases you can get a 100% plus return – over just a few weeks or months – on the funds you invest to upgrade, or renovate your home, prior to selling.




1.  Choose your REALTOR® carefully

Without a doubt, it is up to you to source the best representation for yourself. 

Today consumers get most of their information through their mobile phone, PC or a tablet. Be sure your real estate sales person/broker has a strong online presence, and utilizes state-of-the-art digital marketing tools including email, Facebook and Instagram.

Tips on How to Improve your property value here.

2.  Audit your agent’s marketing efforts

92% of homebuyers start the house hunting process online. What your agent posts online to describe your home is vitally important. If the agent’s description isn’t compelling, most house hunters won’t take the trouble to visit the property. Lots of quality pictures are important too. Make sure your agent uses a professional high-end photographer that knows how to capture the best features of your home. A great description and stunning pictures will make your home stand out in crowd and drive buyer traffic.

3.  Plan the time to sell when markets are hot

Like everything else real estate markets are cyclical. Prices may vary by 5% or more between the peak and lowest periods over any given year. A good Realtor can help you determine the best time to list your home.

4.  Pricing your home to sell

When a home is priced too high, it may remain unsold for a period that’s more than other properties in the same neighborhood. This will cause prospective buyers to think there’s something wrong, further dampening demand for the property.

When pricing your home it’s important to follow your agent’s advice. A good agent will know the pricing strategy to get you the best deal.

5.  Exterior staging

First impressions are important when selling a home. If the exterior of your home looks shabby or run down, prospective buyers are turned off before they go through the front door. Before putting it on the market, be sure to spruce up your home’s exterior. Cut the grass, be sure the garden is weed free, and edged so it looks cared for. Repaint trim around the windows and the front door. Make sure the curb appeal suggests a cared for and well maintained home.

Tip: If you are planning to sell in the winter be sure to take some summer photos of the gardens, front and back yards.


6.  Interior staging

This can involve renting furniture or classy art to hang on the walls of your home, placing fresh flowers in the living room and kitchen, and re- arranging furniture. Many agents offer free interior staging as part of their service. It’s usually best to outsource your home’s staging to a professional who knows the how to present a home to look its best.

7.  Consider doing upgrades or modest renovations before listing

Relatively simple upgrades can add tens of thousands to the price your home goes for. Here are examples of upgrades that can give you a high return on investment: upgrade lighting, a new coat of paint, replace shabby or scarred countertops in the kitchen and bathroom with marble or granite, replace outmoded appliances such as refrigerators, ranges or microwave ovens. Your real estate agent can suggest upgrades that are right for your specific home and neighbourhood.

8.  Understand important real estate terms and strategies

These include: holding back offers, multiple offers situations, special conditions in offers, legal terms and clauses, offer sign-backs, and irrevocable dates. Your agent can guide you through all of the important terminology and critical dates during the house selling and offer review process.

9.  Do a video tour of your home and, post it on YouTube

Be sure your agent has a copy too. Take viewers on a room-by-room tour, showcasing the home’s best features. Don’t forget to include the garden, patio and other outdoor features. Rave about the neighbourhood and neighbours; give details about nearby restaurants, shops, schools, libraries, sports facilities, parks etc. Reminisce about great times you’ve enjoyed in the home. Let viewers know this has been a happy place, and it will be missed when you’ve moved on.

10.  Commission a professional home inspection

This is especially important if you live in an older neighborhood where some of the homes may have asbestos insulation, termites, out of date pipes and wiring, etc. By having a qualified home inspector certify your home is free of these threats you can avoid having a prospective buyer commission their own inspection that may reveal issues you are not aware of. This will also speed up the selling process, as prospective buyers will not have to take the time to arrange their own inspection.

11.  Be prepared to leave an expensive appliance for the new owner

Some buyers will covet your big screen TV, a sound system, new appliances etc. These items can be great bargaining chips when negotiating a price with prospective buyers.

12.  Provide your agents with lots of access time

This is vitally important. Even if it’s sometimes inconvenient, be prepared to make your home available for prospective buyers. No one will buy without having gone through your home. If yours is unavailable when a prospective buyer wants to see it, they may buy the next home they visit.

13.  Clean and Declutter

Stash away your tchotchkes old magazines, children’s toys, hobby paraphernalia etc. Keep countertops and furniture free of clutter. Buyers are drawn to clean spaces and shiny surfaces so make sure all of the dust bunnies have been swept up and all rooms are clean and dust-free. Use furniture polish on tables and wood furniture before each home viewing. This will ensure your home looks well maintained, and the smell of wood polish will not go unnoticed.

14.  Remove personal items that may be offensive to some buyers

These includes religious items, odd collections such as shrivelled heads, skulls, animal head mounted on the wall, or posters with messages that could be considered offensive. 

15.  Put away personal items and family pictures

You want prospective buyers to envision your old house as “their new home”. Let them see there is space for their family pictures. It’s also important to keep your medications and over the counter healthcare products tucked away in your medicine cabinet or a bedside table. You don’t want prospective buys envision your home as a place of sickness.

In addition you may read more about the Selling Process here.



I offer complimentary home evaluations. Please do not feel obliged to list and sell with me when you request your current home evaluation. I am always happy to help, and when you are ready, I will be available to provide you with my full real estate experience.






May Market Report - Steady Price Growth in the GTA Housing Market


May Market Report - Steady Price Growth in the GTA Housing Market

In May, we saw a continuation of the steady price growth experienced in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market during the 4 previous months.  So far, in the first 5 months of 2018, average home prices in the GTA have increased by 9.6%, to $805,320.  Unit sales have also increased each month in 2018 - from 4,019 units in January, to 7,834 units in May.

As I mentioned in last month’s blog, the housing market conditions in 2018 are very different than the conditions experienced during the comparative period in 2017.  But beginning in May, and through the second half of 2018, the comparisons will become more meaningful, as May, 2017 was the first month last year when the impact of the foreign buyers tax began to effect a slowdown in the rate of price growth and market activity, following the frenzy in the months prior when prices were bid up to unreasonable levels due to short supply and speculation.  So for the first time, we have the impact of the foreign buyers tax in both monthly results year-over-year, which makes a May to May comparison a little more relevant.

It is interesting to note, therefore, that new listings were down by more than sales this May compared to last year, (26.2% versus 22.2%), meaning that competition heated up among buyers.  And there are indications from sellers that listing intentions are down significantly since the Fall, meaning the supply of homes available for sale could continue to be an issue in the latter half of 2018.  And when the supply of homes decreases, prices increase, as competition among buyers intensifies.

This is particularly true in the City of Toronto (416) where, for example, average selling prices were at or above average listing prices for all major home types in May.  What is even more interesting, is that the further out you travel from Downtown Toronto, the weaker the market gets.  And since the GTA housing numbers are an average over the entire 416 and 905 regions, this proves how strong the market is right now in the City of Toronto, compared to the rest of the GTA, as the following chart shows:

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Finally, these last two charts highlight the composition of the May sales by home type in each of the 416 and 905 sub markets.  In the 416 region, condominiums accounted for a commanding 57% of unit sales and detached homes made up 25%, while in the 905 region it was detached homes that accounted for the majority of unit sales, at 55% of the total.  What these charts clearly indicate is that condominiums are the dominant force driving unit sales in the 416 region and are in high demand compared to higher priced detached homes, while the opposite is true in the 905 region where the inventory of detached homes tends to be more prevalent and buyers have more choice, which means these homes take longer on average to sell.

If you would like to find out what these statistics mean to you, or if you are curious to know how much your property is worth today or how much you can afford to buy, please reach out. 

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Turning your single-family home into income generating property


Turning your single-family home into income generating property

Let's take a look at turning your single-family home into a two-family, income generating property. This strategy can be an attractive alternative for empty-nesters and retirees who’d prefer not to move – and who’d be happy to generate some extra income.

At some point, usually after the children have moved out, many home owners decide to downsize. Today, that usually means moving into a condo or to a smaller community.

But many couples would prefer to stay in the family home, continuing to enjoy the neighbourhood they know so well. Here’s an alternative for anyone considering their options in such a situation.

Why not re-configure your home into a two-family, income-generating property? This strategy has a number of advantages.

  • You get to stay in the home and the neighbourhood you love

  • You can avoid many of stressors involved in adapting to a new neighbourhood, new neighbours, and unfamiliar amenities and services.

  • You end up with less home to manage.

  • You can generate important extra income to help fund your retirement years and lifestyle enhancements.

  • You may significantly increase your property’s value when it’s reclassified as an income property.

Offsetting these advantages, you’ll have to deal with some challenging realties:

  • Living through the renovation process, likely four months to a year. During this period, you might have to find a temporary residence.

  • Financing the renovations.

  • Managing the renovation process to be sure it meets your expectations and stays within budget.

  • Living alongside tenants who may not share your lifestyle.

  • Assuming the role of “property manager” – this means, at a minimum, dealing with occupancy, rent collection and maintenance issues.


Should you decide to re-configure your home to generate an income, here’s an ACTION PLAN to get the process underway.

Zoning and Permits

First, you’ll need to check out zoning issues. Is your area zoned for the living arrangement you’re hoping to create? Do you need to apply for rezoning or get a zoning restriction waiver?

Requirements vary from region to region, although there are some basics that will apply almost anywhere – each residence will need at least one exit of its own, plus bedroom, bathroom and kitchen area, and perhaps separate utilities and meters. 

Other safety standards, such as fire codes, might change once you turn the space into a two-family dwelling – such information is available from your local building planning department.

Space planning

You’ll need to consider what kind of people you want to occupy the new space – a family, students, another retired couple? This will affect the number of rooms and their sizes, the design of kitchen and bathroom spaces, and other considerations. 

If you need or want to make big changes, consult with a structural engineer. This is the time to think about major issues like the building’s envelope, and to fix any deficiencies or reconfigure the roof, walls, windows or doors.

Determine the rental income you can expect

Contact a real estate agent you trust to determine the rental income you can expect to earn, taking into consideration periods when the unit is vacant. As part of this analysis, find out how this revenue will be taxed, and what portion can be offset as expenses when you file.


You may need to take out a home improvement loan, a business loan, or even a second mortgage. Prospective lenders will need to factor in a number of elements: the use of second unit, your credit rating, etc. Ask your real estate agent to provide you with a home valuation before beginning.

Retain an architect

To be sure your re-configured property is in compliance with local zoning, building codes and safety regulations, retain an architect with local knowledge and expertise in handling this type of project. Be sure to get at least two or preferably three quotes.

Recruit a construction company

Be sure the company is experienced in this kind of project. Get at least three quotes. Have the company you select meet with the architect to work out potential issues before the construction process begins. 

Have qualified back-up in place to help keep the project on track. It’s always a good idea to have someone who cares for you to act as your back-up or to offer support as you go through the renovation process. Maybe one of your grown children, or a close friend.

Should you wish to explore this alternative to downsizing, I’d be pleased to help you assess this opportunity in respect to your specific home.

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April Market Report  |  Which Headline Tells the True Story?


April Market Report | Which Headline Tells the True Story?

Average Selling Price for Homes in the GTA up 9.2% Year to Date, OR

Average Selling Price for Homes in the GTA down 12.4% in April Year-Over-Year?

Well, both are true actually.  But which one is more relevant?

I believe the first headline is more relevant, because it tells us what is happening in the current real estate market.  We already know that the GTA real estate market reset from its historical highs (in April, 2017 the GTA recorded the highest ever average selling price) after the introduction last year of the foreign buyers tax in Q2, followed by the more restrictive mortgage qualification rules introduced at the beginning of 2018.  Add to those measures the 2 successive increases in interest rates by the Bank of Canada and the market cooled down considerably.

Headlines are meant to grab the reader’s attention.  And one could argue that negative headlines tend to attract more attention than positive ones.  But the facts are that the GTA real estate market is trending positive, despite being off its historical highs.  Take a look at these statistics for the first 4 months of 2018:

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Unit Sales and Active Listings have increased in each month.  Average selling price is up 9.2% in four months.  Days on the Market have gone down by more than a third, and Average Selling Price to List Price is stable.  These are all signs of a healthy real estate market.

But the GTA real estate market is really a tale of 2 cities.  As reported by TREB in their latest Market Watch:

“The year-over-year change in the overall average selling price has been impacted by both changes in market conditions as well as changes in the type and price point of homes being purchased.  This is especially clear at the higher end of the market.  Detached home sales for $2 million or more accounted for 5.5% of total detached sales in April 2018, versus 10 per cent in April 2017.”

The differences in the composition of the current GTA real estate market can seen by looking at the following statistics broken down by major home type:

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There is roughly a 3 month supply of detached homes for sale in the GTA, whereas there is only a 1 ½ month supply of condominium units for sale. As well,  the increase in Average Selling Price for Condominiums, at 10.2% for the first four months of 2018, is outpacing the rate of increase for Detached homes, at 6.1%, as there is obvious pressure at the lower end with Condominiums in short supply.  TREB expects that “once we are past the current policy-based volatility, home owners should expect to see the resumption of a moderate and sustained pace of price growth in line with a strong local economy and steady population growth”.

If you would like to find out what these statistics mean to you, or if you are curious to know how much your property is worth today or how much you can afford to buy, please reach out.

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GTA March Housing Stats – a stark contrast from 2017


GTA March Housing Stats – a stark contrast from 2017

Toronto Real Estate Board Director of Market Analysis Jason Mercer perhaps sums up the Q1-2018 Greater Toronto Area housing market best:

“Right now, when we are comparing home prices, we are comparing two starkly different periods of time: last year, when we had less than a month of inventory versus this year with inventory levels ranging between two and three months.  It makes sense that we haven’t seen prices climb back to last year’s peak.  However, in the second half of the year, expect to see the annual rate of price growth improve compared to Q1 as sales increase relative to the below-average level of listings.”

Now look at this chart, which shows those two “starkly different periods of time”.   What the chart shows is the huge run up in prices in the first half of 2017, followed by a reality check, as prices declined rapidly in Q3, after the introduction of government measures to cool the market.  Prices rebounded somewhat in Q4, as some buyers and sellers accelerated their property ownership decisions prior to the introduction of the more stringent lending guidelines which came into effect in January, 2018.  And now, we are back to some period of relative normalcy, with modest price appreciation in Q1-2018.

So it doesn’t really matter that units sales were down by almost 40%, from 11,954 units in March, 2017 to 7,228 units in March, 2018, or that prices were down on average by 14.3%, from $915,126 to $784,558 because these results cover two starkly different periods of time, and are, therefore, not comparable.

What is meaningful, however, is that the number of active listings in March, 2018 was 103% higher than the level in March, 2017 and that the average time it took to sell a home in March, 2018, at 20 days, was roughly the same amount of time it took back before the market went crazy in Q1-2017, when the average time it took to sell a home in the GTA was below 10 days.  And the average selling price has actually increased in each of the last 3 months.  I’ve said it before and it bears repeating that we are in a balanced market, one which TREB believes is poised for stronger growth later in 2018, particularly in the condominium market where prices have been steadily on the rise and inventories have become ever more scarce.

If you are curious to know how much your property is worth today or how much you can afford to buy, please feel free to reach out; and if you found this article helpful please hit "Like" and "Share".


Signals of a Healthy GTA Real Estate Market Continue


Signals of a Healthy GTA Real Estate Market Continue

There were a total of 7,118 residential sales reported through TREB’s MLS system in October, compared to 9,715 transactions a year ago.  Even though the number of transactions was down by 26.7% year-over-year, the jump of almost 12% in residential sales reported between the months of September and October in 2017 was more pronounced than usual compared to the last 10 years, a clear signal that market momentum is picking up.

Active listings were 78.5% higher than a year ago, an indication that supply and demand are continuing to balance out as inventories settled at 2.6 months of supply in October, down marginally from the 3.0 months of supply in September, but still much healthier than the scant 1.1 months of supply experienced in October, 2016.  There is, however, a continuing lack of quality listings in core GTA neighbourhoods and there are early indications that offer dates are reappearing as homes are being underpriced to generate bidding wars, although this has yet to manifest in the overall selling price to list price ratio which is currently holding at 98%.

While the average selling price for October transactions was $780,104 – up by 2.3% compared to the average of $762,691 in October 2016 -  the continuing low supply of, and high demand for, condominiums fuelled a 21.8% increase in prices in that segment of the market.

Expectations are that market activity will pick up further in the next 6-8 weeks as buyers rush to obtain mortgage pre-approvals and submit offers before the new stress tests announced by OSFI last month are implemented at the beginning of 2018, further reducing buying power as the pre-qualification hurdle rate increases to the higher of the 5-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or your negotiated contract borrowing rate + 2%.

Do you remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?  When Goldilocks arrived at the bears’ house in the forest there were three bowls of porridge on the table and she was hungry. The first bowl of porridge she tried was “too hot”, the next one was “too cold”, but the third one was “just right”.  Well, this just might be a “Goldilocks” moment in the GTA housing market!

If you are curious to know how much your property is worth today or how much you can afford to buy, please feel free to reach out; and if you found this article helpful please hit "Like" and "Share".



Renting or Buying? New Regulations Are Making Affordability More Difficult


Renting or Buying? New Regulations Are Making Affordability More Difficult

Beginning January 1, 2018, if you are buying a home, even if you have equity of 20% or more, a new regulation announced this week by OSFI (the Ontario Superintendent of Financial Institutions) could make it more difficult for you to qualify for a mortgage.

The revised Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures include several key changes that the regulator says is part of its expectation that federally-regulated mortgage lenders remain vigilant in their underwriting practices, the most significant of which is a new “stress test”.

One fear hitting the headlines today is that the impacted borrowers will turn to unregulated lenders including credit unions and caisses populaires, which are not subject to the new rules.

 If you stay with the same institution, banking competition will be even further restricted as those renewing mortgages will not have the ability to shop around. Great for the banks!

In order to qualify for an uninsured mortgage the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages will be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%.  So if the Bank of Canada five-year rate is 5% and you are able to negotiate a lower rate from your financial institution – say 3.5%, then the stress test will mean that you would otherwise have to qualify for a 5.5% rate mortgage in order to be approved.  Alternatively, if you were only able to negotiate a 50 basis point reduction from the posted rate, or 4.5%, then you would have to show that you would qualify for a 6.5% rate mortgage of the same amount.  What this will likely mean for most borrowers, is that they will not be able to afford the home that they thought they could before the change in regulations.

For example, as reported by TREB (The Toronto Real Estate Board) the average price of a semi-detached home in the GTA in September, 2017 was $752,379.  A buyer with a 20% down payment would need a mortgage of approximately $600,000 in order to purchase this “average” home.  Let’s say that the Bank of Canada five-year benchmark rate is 5.0% and that this purchaser was able to negotiate a rate of 4% with their financial institution.  Therefore, the purchaser would have to demonstrate that they could afford the payments on a 6% mortgage of this amount (roughly an additional $350.00 per month or $4,200.00 per year on a monthly pay mortgage amortized over 25 years), otherwise they would only qualify for a smaller mortgage.  If they could not come up with that extra income to show that they would qualify for a $600,000 mortgage under the new regulation, then they would have to settle for a mortgage of $545,000, meaning that with their $150,000 down payment they could only afford a home priced around $695,000, or roughly 8% less than the price of the average semi-detached home selling currently in the GTA.

So for many, the alternative will be to look for a smaller home to purchase, perhaps a less expensive condominium, rent or move out of the city.  And sadly, the news does not get much better with those alternatives, due to the shortages of available units in both the sales and rental markets for condominiums.  And affordability is becoming a real issue as the focus of buyers and renters alike has shifted to condominiums, bidding up prices both for units for sale and units for rent.

Urbanation just released its analysis of this year’s third quarter and found condo rents averaged $2,219 a month for units averaging 743 square feet – a $232 year-over-year increase. It also found that newly signed leases in the third quarter, at 7,761, hadn’t much changed in a year.

A new report commissioned by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario says the Liberal government’s Fair Housing Plan has negatively impacted the province’s rental housing supply. Before the introduction of the government legislation, 28,000 rental units were in the planning pipeline, but since the new rules were introduced 1,000 of those units have been cancelled or converted to condominiums. The report estimates that if 6,250 new rental units are not built per year in Ontario supply will continue to drop and naturally drive the demand up and the prices.

A lot of factors have conspired to put relentless pressure on the rental market – the astronomical cost of homeownership, stricter mortgage qualifications, high migration and the Fair Housing Plan, among others – but none has been more pronounced than the supply shortage.  Moreover, the reintroduction of rent control has provided tenants increased incentive to remain in their dwellings, stunting the turnover rate.

Tim Hudak, CEO of OREA (The Ontario Real Estate Association) recently had this to say about the latest regulation. “It’s time for governments to hit the brakes on more demand side policy interventions and take a wait and see approach. Ontario’s housing market is too important to the provincial economy to move ahead with unnecessary regulation that will hurt the dream of home ownership.”

If you are curious to know how much your property is worth today or how much you can afford to buy, please feel free to reach out; and if you found this article helpful please hit "Like" and "Share".


More Inventory Starting to Attract More Buyers


More Inventory Starting to Attract More Buyers


Last month I spoke about how the Greater Toronto Area Real Estate Market is beginning to change shape and return to balance. Well, the evidence is in, as the number of new listings entered into The Toronto Real Estate Board’s MLS® System amounted to 16,469 in September – up by 9.4 per cent year-over-year.  But the real story is that total active listings stood at 19,021, a whopping 69% increase year-over-year.  TREB suggests that the improvement in listings in September compared to a year earlier is a sign that home owners are anticipating an uptick in sales activity as we move through the fall, or put another way, more inventory is starting to attract more buyers back to the market.

TREB announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 6,379 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in September, roughly the same amount as in August, but 35 per cent lower than September of last year.  In a balanced market, buyers take longer to make up their minds, as there is more product available to choose from.  Likewise, sellers need time to get adjusted to the new market reality.  Remember, the last few years were anything but “ordinary”.

Think of it this way.  Last year at this time, inventory (the number of active listings on MLS®) stood at approximately one month of sales.  So, on average, every home on the market was selling within a month or less, with multiple offers driving up the price paid due to the scarcity of supply.  Now that inventory is closer to 3 months supply, what this means is that 1 out of every 3 houses on average is selling within the month, and price is no longer being dictated by the frenzy we saw when homes were in such short supply.  So it makes sense to see that sales are about a third lower in September 2017 than they were in September of last year.  All of this is happening against a backdrop where average prices are still increasing, albeit at a lower rate than we saw during the run up.  The average selling price of a home in the GTA in September 2017 was $775,546 – up 2.6 per cent compared to September 2016.

However, the exception continues to be the condominium apartment market segment, where average prices were up on average by 23 per cent compared to last year. TREB reported in September that “tighter market conditions for condominium apartments follows consumer polling results from the spring that pointed toward a shift to condos in terms of buyer intentions”. In fact, condos accounted for almost 30 per cent of all MLS home sales across the GTA during the month of September, whereas detached homes – the most expensive market segment on average - accounted for a smaller share of overall transactions this year compared to last.

If you are curious to know how much your property is worth today, please feel free to reach out and if you found this article helpful please hit "Like" and "Share".


Casa Nostra - Stylish Fruit Store In Barcelona


Casa Nostra - Stylish Fruit Store In Barcelona

Casa Nostra Fruit Store in Barcelona puts focus on unique display. In this case, fruits are in the spotlight. The minimal interior by Miriam Barrio Studio highlights the colors and forms of food, while white tiles expose the beauty of local products.

The store is divided into two zones – one dedicated to fresh products and the other, storing pre-packed food. Visual identity of Casa Nostra is also intriguing. From sleek typography to beautifully designed shopping bags, the brand redefines the grocery shopping experience.