Winter can leave behind a big mess, get your backyard back in shape for spring with these tips:
1. Remove Any Garbage and Waste. Months of snow, rain and wind can cause garbage and debris to end up strewn all over the yard. If you have pets, you also know that waste tends to accumulate as well. Now that the snow has melted away, it is time to remove anything that does not belong in the yard.
2. Clean Up Larger Debris. Once garbage and waste is removed, pick up any fallen tree branches, sticks, pinecones and any other larger debris. Any wood pieces can be kept for kindling for the summer fire pit.
3. Rake Up Small Debris For Compost. With larger items out of the way, it will be easy to run the rake over the entirety of the yard. Things like small sticks, leaves and dead grass can all be deposited in your compost pile. If you do not have a compost pile, and wish to start one, simply place some chain-link fencing in your compost spot to make a 3-foot-by-3-foot area. You can compost things like vegetable peelings, grass cuttings, plant prunings, cardboard egg boxes, paper, twigs, tea bags and fruit waste, etc. City of Toronto residents can get up to one cubic metre (or a trunk-full) of compost for free at a Compost Depot.
4. Trim and Prune Bushes, Trees and Shrubbery. Winter can take its toll on our plants and trees. Trim and prune anything that has been damaged. Avoid topping trees or removing large healthy branches, this can cause health problems for the tree and hurt the plant’s natural shape. Try to remove only dead branches, branches that rub against each other, or branches that are unhealthy.
5. Remove Stale Mulch. If your mulch seems a bit stale after a long winter, it is a good idea to remove it before planting new shrubs, flowers and plants. If you are in a colder region, you may want to wait a bit longer to start planting. You can start your seedling plants indoors so they are ready to go when it is warm enough.
6. Replace Mulch. Once you have planted everything, lay down new mulch. Chipped wood like cedar, cypress or redwood works great. Wood chips are often available for free. Check online to see if any mulch is available in your area either through the city or private listings.
7. Repair the Lawn. Most over–seeding should be done in the fall, but you can work on thinner areas in the spring if there are noticeable “balding” spots. Wait until grass is 4-5 inches tall before you resume regular mowing. The first mow of the season should only be a trim as over-cutting the lawn early on may leave your grass susceptible to damage.
8. Bring Out the Patio Furniture. It is time to arrange your outdoor sitting and entertaining areas again. Ensure you give all the furniture a good clean before setting up as dust and dirt can accumulate after months of storage. Check to see if any furniture needs to be replaced or repaired. Wash any cushions, pillows, and covers. Be sure to check tags before throwing anything into the washing machine.
Do you have any questions about preparing your yard this spring? Looking to make your outdoor spaces look their best in anticipation of selling your home? Give me a call at 416.921.1112 or email me at Elli@ellidavis.com and I would be happy to help.
There is no doubt about it – Toronto’s real estate market is hot. In 2016, Toronto had the strongest sales gains of any Canadian metropolitan area. Hotter still is Toronto’s luxury market which saw price increases of around 32 per cent last year.
Toronto’s Luxury Properties
Luxury properties can be found all over Toronto, but some neighbourhoods are much more prominent than others. The majority of Toronto’s luxury properties are removed from the city’s bustling center, and tend to be located in what is known as the midtown. In 2016, six districts (as outlined by TREB) had an average sales price above $1 million. C12 is Toronto’s most expensive district with an average sales price of $2.5 million. It includes upscale neighbourhoods such as Lawrence Park, Windfields, and a collection of estate-lined blocks called the Bridle Path. This district also happens to have some of the fastest growing prices, with the average sale price climbing 31 per cent since 2014.
Toronto is home to nearly 250 neighbourhoods – a daunting number for those who are unfamiliar with the lay of the land. The Toronto Real Estate Board has made things a little easier by breaking the city down into 35 larger districts – each containing between 5 and 6 neighbourhoods.
Leading Canada’s Luxury Market
In Vancouver, sales of homes over $1 million were down 27 per cent from last year, and sales of homes worth over $4 million were down 46 per cent. Toronto’s luxury market outpaced Vancouver last year and the city will likely remain a top pick for high-end property buyers through 2017. Of Canada’s four major markets, the GTA saw the greatest year-over-year gains in condo, attached, and single family home sales over $1 million in 2017 so far.
Starting Off 2017 With Record Numbers
January and February 2017 compared to the same time last year:
GTA real estate sales over $1 million soared 87 per cent; sales volume rose 86 per cent.
GTA luxury real estate sales over $4 million rose 144 per cent; sales volume rose 158 per cent.
TREB predicts that overall growth for all home types will stay in the double digits for the rest of 2017. Supply is as tight as ever and the number of active listings is less than half of what it was a year ago. The continued lack of supply, low interest rates, and population growth will result in very strong price growth for all home types this year.
Whether you are looking to build a new custom luxury home like Drake’s new Bridle Path mansion, or are on the lookout for a slightly less elaborate luxury property, give me a call at 416. 921.1112. I would love to help you find into the luxury property of your dreams.
If you have ever moved before, you know the importance of packing carefully and strategically. The last thing you want is for boxes to fall apart, for your valuables to get damaged or for your belongings to get misplaced. Follow these tips to ensure your items are packed and moved, safely and securely:
1. Use the correct box size. Do not make boxes too heavy. Put heavy items in small boxes and light items in larger ones. Extra heavy boxes make the job harder and heavy items are a common complaint of professional movers – they also have a better chance of breaking. It is better to have two lighter boxes than one extra heavy one!
2. When packing boxes, pack heavier items on the bottom and lighter ones on top. When packing the truck, pack heavier boxes first, towards the front of the truck, for better balance.
3. Fill in empty spaces in boxes. Fill in any gaps with clothing, towels, or packing paper. Loosely packed or unbalanced boxes can be hard to move and stack. Filling boxes helps to ensure things don’t move around too much in transit and during handling. It also makes sense to use up as much space as possible!
4. Keep boxes organized. Avoid mixing items from different rooms in the same box, this will make your packing quicker and everything will be easier to unpack when the time comes. You will not be left wondering what belongs to who and where things should go.
5. Label everything. You may think you will remember which boxes contain what, or what items belong where – but once everything is packed up, it is easy to get confused. In clear writing, label each box with its contents. Mark each box with an alphanumeric code, with the letter indicating the room it is destined for and label each box with a number to keep track. Keep inventory in a small notebook – this way you will know if anything is missing and what is missing.
6. Tape boxes well. Use tape to close bottom and top seams. If a box is on the heavier side, make a couple of wraps all the way around the box’s top and bottom edges where stress tends to concentrate.
7. Protect fragile items. When packing dishes, wrap them individually in packing paper and wrap bundles of five or six together with more paper. Always pack dishes on their sides and use bunched-up paper as padding above and below. For extra padding, pack your glasses and stemware in clean socks.
If you are planning on moving, and looking for some help or advice, feel free to give me a call at 416.921.1112 – I would be happy to help.
There is nothing more satisfying than harvesting delicious ingredients from your own garden – knowing that you are using fresh and organic herbs and vegetables that you tended to yourself!
Whether you are a seasoned gardener, or a complete beginner, a bit of research and preparation can have you growing your own backyard vegetables and herbs in no time. The weather is warming up and the last spring frost will be behind us before we know it. Start planning your garden now with these 5 Staple Edible Garden Starters:
1. Carrots. A staple in the kitchen, carrots are easy to grow. They like sandy soil and are resistant to most pests and diseases. Plant carrots 3 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date and make sure soil is free of stones. Gently mulch to retain moisture and ensure soil is well drained. When plants are an inch tall, thin them so they stand 3 inches apart. Carrots like to be planted near beans, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, radishes or tomatoes – chives improve their growth and flavour.
2. Mint. One of the easiest herbs to grow, mint is great for summer drinks, desserts, teas, garden accents, ground covers, air fresheners and herbal medicines. The plant thrives in light soil with good drainage. Make sure to keep mint in a contained environment as it is a rapid spreader and can cover a lot of ground. Mint can grow up to 4 feet in just 1 year so make sure to prune and pick as the season goes on. Planting mint near peas, cabbage, and tomatoes improves its health and flavour.
3. Basil. Great for salads, pesto, pizza, and sauces, basil is a leafy, fragrant annual with several varieties available. The most common type is sweet basil with other types including purple basil, lemon basil and Thai basil. Basil should be planted in early spring, after the last spring frost. Plant seeds/seedlings 1/4-inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart. To ensure growth throughout the summer, soil should be moist and the leaves should be picked regularly. Pinch out any flower heads as soon as they appear. Basil likes to be planted near tomatoes and sweet peppers.
4. Tomatoes. One of the favourites amongst garden vegetables, this vine plant is easy to grow and is quite versatile. Tomatoes like full sun and well-drained soil. If you are planting seeds, start the seeds indoors and transplant after the last spring frost when the soil is warm. Tomatoes are prone to a range of pests and diseases so plants should be watched carefully. Planting near basil helps repel aphids, whiteflies, hornworms, and mosquitoes.
5. Cucumbers. Cucumber plants have the ability to climb so they are great for tight spaces and tend to grow fast. Cucumbers are susceptible to frost damage – make sure you do not plant them outside too soon. Select a site with full sun and sow seeds in rows, 1 inch deep and 6 – 10 inches apart. Set up a trellis if you want the vine to climb, or if you have limited space. Plant cucumbers near corn, lettuce, onions, peas or radishes for optimal growth and flavour.
What edible plants will you be planting this season? If you are looking for other options to include in your garden this spring, check out this list of 111 Herbs, Vegetables, Edible Flowers and Fruit. Happy Planting!
Tight Market Conditions Continue in March
April 5, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 12,077 residential sales through TREB’s MLS® System in March 2017. This result represented a 17.7 per cent increase compared to the 10,260 sales reported in March 2016. For the TREB market area as a whole, annual sales growth was strongest for condominium apartments and detached houses.
The number of new listings also increased on a year-over-year basis, at 17,051 – a 15.2 per cent increase compared to March 2016. The strongest growth in new listings was experienced in the detached market segment. While new listings were up strongly compared to last year, the rate new listings growth was still lower than the rate of sales growth. As a result, GTA market conditions continued to tighten.
“It has been encouraging to see that policymakers have not implemented any knee-jerk policies regarding the GTA housing market. Different levels of government are holding consultations with market stakeholders and TREB has participated and will continue to participate in these discussions. Policy makers must remember that it is the interplay between the demand for and supply of listings that influences price growth,” said Mr. Cerqua.
Strong competition between buyers continued to cause high levels of price growth in all major market segments. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark Price was up by 28.6 per cent year-over-year. For the TREB market area as a whole, the average selling price was up by 33.2 per cent, with similar annual rates of growth in the low-rise and condominium apartment segments.
“Annual rates of price growth continued to accelerate in March as growth in sales outstripped growth in listings. A substantial period of months in which listings growth is greater than sales growth will be required to bring the GTA housing market back into balance. As policy makers seek to achieve this balance, it is important that an evidence-based approach is followed,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
Done Deals: Open House Valuable Marketing Tool for German Mills Home
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 06, 2017
83 SIMONSTON BLVD., THORNHILL, Ont.
ASKING PRICE: $1,685,000
SELLING PRICE: $1,641,000
PREVIOUS SELLING PRICE: $379,000 (October, 1998); $357,500 (February, 1998)
TAXES: $5,589 (2016)
DAYS ON THE MARKET: 18
LISTING AND CO-OP AGENT: Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
The Action: For over two weeks late last year, this four-bedroom home with an attached double garage hosted 19 private showings and a public open house. “A lot of people think open houses are a waste of time, but I decided to do it that weekend and strangely enough, [the buyers] came in, loved it and came back,” agent Elli Davis says.
What They Got: Various updates to this roughly 35-year-old residence keep it looking contemporary, yet classic. For instance, hardwood floors and mouldings grace an open dining space, entertaining area with a gas fireplace and rear family room with a walkout to the patio and garden beds lining the 60-by 138-foot lot.
For more casual activities, there is a lower level gym and recreation area with another fireplace, plus a guest room.
Cooking and cleaning is convenient with four bathrooms, including one in the master upstairs, and an updated kitchen with an island, marble floors and stone counters.
The Agent’s Take: “The appeal was the school district and Bayview country club, and it’s close to the Don Valley Parkway and 407 [highway],” Ms. Davis notes.
Whether a project is large or small, hiring a company that does quality work is always important. Take the time to research and compare different businesses to ensure you are getting the best service for a competitive price. Looking at more than one business will give you a good idea of what services are available and how much you can expect to spend. Here are a few ways to help determine if a company is a good choice:
1. Find Out How Long They Have Been In Business. If a company is still going strong after decades, odds are it is because they deliver quality work and people are generally happy with their services. Companies that deliver shoddy workmanship do not tend to stay around for too long. This is not to say that you should not consider a newer company – new companies can be great! When considering a newer company, ask specific questions to determine their level of expertise and experience.
2. Ask for Estimates. Explain the details of the job you want done and ask for a verbal or written estimate outlining the price and time it will take to complete the work. Ask about minimum prices, and what can potentially happen to result in a higher final cost. Inquire about insurance and ask about professional affiliations or accreditations. Determine how payments are accepted and remember to read all contracts carefully. Aim to get estimates from at least three different companies to ensure you are getting a competitive rate.
3. Get References. Word of mouth from family, friends, colleagues or neighbours is one of the best ways to find a good company that will deliver great results. Ask for recommendations and advice – you might get to hear a few cautionary tales as well. If you cannot get any personal recommendations, look online for reviews, ratings and comments.
4. Make Sure They Are Fully Licensed. Whether you are looking for a plumber, electrician or exterminator, ensure they are fully licensed for the job. Companies and their employees should be fully insured and have all the necessary credentials. No one wants to tear everything apart and pay twice because something was not done correctly the first time.
Different jobs will require you to ask different questions and compare different types of information. Below are some examples of questions you can ask the following three professionals:
Find out if they specialize in repair work or remodeling. You may get better rates if their expertise matches the job you need handled. Ask if they charge for travel time – their hourly rate may or may not include driving to and from your property. Inquire about the supplies the plumber needs, and whether they have them in stock. You do not want to get stuck paying for multiple supply-gathering trips.
Determine if you will need to leave the house. If you do need to vacate, ask how long you will have to be away for. Find out if there are risks to people or pets and determine how long it will take for the critters to be gone. Total eradication could take more than one visit. Find out if there are any guarantees – many firms offer a one month, or even three–month guarantee.
Find out if they need a permit to do the work. Permits are usually required on larger jobs and often stipulate that the wiring be inspected by the city. Ascertain who will be filing the permit and what it will add to the cost.
Hiring the right professionals can take time, but it is worth ensuring you get the job done right – the first time! If you are in search of a local business to help you out, feel free to have a look at my Recommended Professionals Page.
Winter is finally over, and the warm weather is on its way! If you have home-maintenance projects planned, consider tackling these ones during the spring months:
1. Outdoor Maintenance. After the snow melts, our outdoor spaces can often use a little TLC. Take the time to clear debris and remove any dead branches from the yard. Check if fences, walkways, and outdoor fixtures need maintenance or repairs. Clean the gutters, pressure wash the deck, and get started on gardening projects. The earlier these get taken care of, the more time you will have to enjoy your beautiful outdoor space.
2. Windows. Due to the cold, we often neglect washing and inspecting windows during the winter months. As soon as it is warm enough, check windows and give them a thorough clean. It is a good idea to check caulking and weather-stripping every few months – leakage around windows can create a draught. If it looks like you need window replacements, consider doing before the summer. The right window selection could save you up to $500 per year in heating and cooling costs.
3. Exterior Paint. If painting is on your to-do list – now is a great time to do it. Warmer weather will allow paint to dry properly and you will not have to worry about working in the sweltering heat. If the paint is in good condition – but is looking a little drab – pressure washing your home’s exterior could make it look as good as new!
4. Roofing. Emergencies happen and sometimes roof-work cannot wait, but if you are able to plan ahead, spring is a good time to schedule roof repairs and maintenance. It is warm and dry enough to work safely without having to battle the heat of the summer.
5. Decks, Patios, and Outdoor Rooms. Once the weather warms up and the ground thaws, our outdoor projects are ready to be tackled. Decks require hand-digging and the ground is usually softer in the spring. No matter what your vision is for your outdoor space, starting in spring will give you the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour in the warmer months.
6. Spring Cleaning. Spring is a great time to clean all the areas of the house that have been neglected during the cold winter months. Consider cleaning windows, laundering drapes, washing carpets, dusting ceiling fans, etc. You can check out my spring cleaning post for more ideas.
If you have spring projects planned and are hoping to sell your home, give me a call at 416.921.1112 and I would be happy to share advice and answer any questions you may have.
Moving can be stressful – especially if you are relocating to a new neighbourhood or city. Even when the move represents a positive change, it can take time to get established and feel comfortable in a new environment.
Here are six tips to help you feel at home in your new place, before you even move:
1. Research the New Locale. Moving to a new area can feel stressful – you are entering something relatively unknown. You might be wondering how you will be able to adapt, or if you will like the neighbourhood, or where you will be able to get your morning cup of coffee. One of the best ways to put your mind at ease before the moving process is to do as much research as possible. Go online and research the nearest parks, grocery stores, cafes, etc., look up the best gym, what community groups are in the area, and even read up on the history of the town. Getting familiar before you move will help you ease into your new environment.
2. Think Positive! A move signifies a big change; and with change we often experience mixed emotions. We might feel stressed about whether we are making the right decision, or feel overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead – perhaps we feel a bit of regret because we miss something about our old home. Moving is also a very positive thing – it represents new beginnings and excitement – a fresh start. Keeping this in mind will help you overcome any negative feelings you may experience.
3. Get a Helping Hand. Moving is a lot of work, and there is no getting around it. Having family and friends there to help you through the process will lessen your load and help relieve some stress. Make sure to call on friends and family after you move too, a new place can feel lonely and having visitors makes the transition a bit easier.
4. Make Connections. It is common to feel like an outsider in a new a place. Make as many connections as you can – as soon as you can. You may even have an opportunity to meet people before you actually move. You can find your new doctor or dentist, pick out a new cycling club, take a photography workshop, or join a volunteer group. By getting involved, you will familiarize yourself with the landscape and people of the town.
5. Make it Your Home. You may have lived in your previous home for decades, so a new home can feel like foreign territory. Once you are settled in, make the effort to hang up your favourite photos and artwork. Personalized touches will make your home feel like it is yours right away.
6. Establish a Routine. To help you feel settled in a new place, start a comforting routine to familiarize yourself with the area. You can choose a trail to walk the dog every morning, pick a coffee shop to stop at before work, or even begin a new gym routine to help structure your day and serve as a way to meet new friends.
Are you looking to move? Do you have any questions, or would you like some advice about moving? Feel free to call me at 416.921.1112 – I would be happy to help!
When we are looking for our dream home, we are not just looking for a well-appointed kitchen, beautiful flooring, or a spacious living room – we are also looking at the bigger picture, and a great neighbourhood is just as important as a great house.
Finding the perfect neighbourhood will ensure you enjoy living in your new space – consider these tips:
Know What You Want – The first step to finding the perfect neighbourhood is knowing exactly what perfect means to you. Identify your priorities and ‘must-haves’. Make a list of what you want and decide which points you are unwilling to compromise on. Be aware of what you do not want and what your current area lacks. Consider things like schools, accessible transit, local businesses and even specific things like where you want to be walking your dog in the mornings or where you will be buying your morning cup of coffee.
Be Informed – Once you have a good idea of what you want – do some research. The easiest way to get pertinent neighbourhood information is by speaking with an experienced Realtor®. You can also do your own research by looking on Google Maps and looking up schools, amenities, local businesses, etc. Property values in a particular neighbourhood will also be a good indicator of how prominent the area is.
Visit the Neighbourhood – A neighbourhood might look good ‘on paper’ but you will not really know if you like it until you see it for yourself. After speaking with your Realtor® and collecting all the information you need, narrow down your favourite options and spend a few days touring the areas.
Take a Good Look Around – When you tour the area, what do you see? Are there people walking around outside? Are the homes well taken care of? Are there flourishing businesses and well-maintained public spaces? Visually survey the area and look for any signs of disrepair. First impressions are important – you should feel good about the neighbourhood as soon as you get there.
Listen – While you walk around, stop from time to time to just close your eyes and listen. Do you hear loud traffic? Airplanes flying overhead? A train passing? It is easy to get caught up in all the sights of a neighbourhood and not really notice all the ambient noise that surrounds it. Pay close attention to any noise pollution that is apparent in the area.
Visualize Yourself There – Can you picture yourself living in the area? Visualize your daily routine in each neighbourhood – what will your drive to work look like? Where will you walk your dog in the mornings? How far will you be traveling for your morning cup of coffee? Where will your kids be waiting for the school bus, or how far will they be walking to school? Think about all aspects of your routine. Does everything just seem easier in a particular neighbourhood?
Visit Often – In order to get the complete picture, visit neighbourhoods at different times of the day and make sure to scope out the area on a weekday as well. A neighbourhood might seem serene at 2pm on a Saturday, but a Monday morning visit might reveal heavy traffic and commotion. Drive through the area at night – do you feel safe? Ensure that you feel good about the neighbourhood at all times of the day.