The weather is warming up and it is time to enjoy a well-deserved vacation, or visits to the family cottage. When making travel plans, the last thing you will want is to be worried about the safety of your home while away – there is already enough to stress about! It is important to prepare your home before your departure; use this easy guide to help:
Make Your Home Look Lived-In.
A house that looks obviously empty can be a target. Keep your house looking occupied during longer trips:
Do not let newspapers or mail stockpile. If you are going away for a long time, you can contact Canada Post to hold your mail, or ask a trusted neighbour to come by and pick them up.
Protect your car by parking it inside the garage. Ask a neighbour to park in your driveway occasionally to give the appearance of activity.
Have at least one light in your home connected to a timer. A timed light will save on energy costs and make the home look lived in.
Install motion-activated outdoor lights – if you have a larger property, flood lights are great. Any outdoor lights are a deterrent to burglars.
Ensure your lawn is trimmed. Ask a neighbour or family member, or hire someone, to come by and mow the lawn. An unkempt property sends the signal that no one is around (especially if it is usually taken care of).
Take the Necessary Electrical and Plumbing Precautions
Go around your home and unplug all electrical devices. This will save you money, and also lower your risk of an electrical fire occurring.
Put the water heater in ‘vacation’ mode.
Turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and sinks.
Set your thermostat closer to outside temperatures. This will keep energy bills lower, while also ensuring your home is not freezing or overly hot inside.
Other Preparations to Consider:
Let your bank and credit card company know you will be going away and notify your home alarm company.
Test smoke detectors before you leave.
Ensure every door is locked and any valuables in the backyard are stowed away.
Leave your emergency contact information and a spare house key with a trusted neighbour.
Check your fridge and pantry for any food that could go bad while you are away.
Empty all the trash in your house in the event there are perishables in any of the bins.
Lastly, do not post your travel plans or dates on social media. You may feel that you want to share these details with your friends, but you never know who else is viewing this information. I hope you find this list helpful…and happy travels!
The Globe and Mail has published an article about a recent trend where home sellers are moving into rental properties rather than buying. There have been many shifts in the real estate market as of late, and everyone must adapt to remain relevant. Although I was not interviewed for the article, a photo of a property I just leased out for a client was featured.
Toronto Homeowners Cashed Out to Capitalize on High Prices – And Many Aren’t About to Dive Back In
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED: WEDNESDAY, APR. 26, 2017
Justin Wheeler didn’t expect he’d start leasing in his 30s. He’s owned a house in Cambridge, Ont., for 10 years and raised a young family there. But he changed his mind after people started flocking to Cambridge to escape Toronto’s expensive real estate market, driving the average price of a house up more than 30 per cent in a year.
“In a couple years, we were going to sell. And then we saw people selling their houses for crazy amounts of money, so we said, ‘Screw it.’”
Last month, Mr. Wheeler sold his house for well over asking price – at twice what he paid. He thinks it’d be “crazy” to buy while the market is so high, so he’s searching for a bigger house to lease while he waits for it to fall.
Toronto-area realtors say interest in leasing high-end rental homes has surged as more and more owners do exactly what Mr. Wheeler did: Cash out and lease while they wait to buy in a cheaper market. Ashley Gollogly, a local realtor, says this is setting Toronto’s high-end leasing market “on fire” – and helping to drive its prices up.
“[It] has always been crazy, but I think in the last six months it’s gotten more so just with the ones that have been selling their houses and taking a break from the market.”
With housing prices in Toronto at record highs, more people are looking to lease – and the increased demand is driving leasing prices higher. Realosophy Realty, a brokerage that collects statistics on housing in Toronto, found 403 new listings of high-end homes – defined as properties asking $4,000 a month and up – in the first quarter of 2017; a 35-per-cent increase from the same period last year. Of those listed, 219 were actually leased out – a 53-per-cent year-over-year increase.
A search of online realty sites turns up homes in the Greater Toronto Area that come with Victorian-style furniture, whirlpools, outdoor kitchens – and price tags as high as $25,000 a month.
Andy Taylor, of Sotheby’s International Realty, represents a Yorkville brownstone listed at $23,500 a month. It has 3,000 square feet of living space, has three bedrooms and no garage, but Mr. Taylor says there’s a market for furnished rentals in great locations, even at this price. So far, he’s seen interest from executives moving to Toronto and from people who sold their house.
Years ago, such leases were popular with businesspeople and athletes who relocated their families after finding temporary jobs in the city. Now, people who have just sold a home – often for a price they never dreamed they would get – are pushing into the leasing market flush with cash.
“People don’t want to take all their money they’ve made in appreciation of their family home and sink it back into real estate,” says local sales representative Jimmy Molloy, of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
Ehson Rahmati, of World Class Realty Point, who sells and rents condos in the GTA, sees the same story playing out in high-end condo rentals. Interest in large condos increased “tremendously” last year and in March, he says.
“A lot of people obviously are moving out of their houses, so a lot of these smaller condos won’t cut it for a family. So a lot of the bigger two-bedroom, three-bedroom penthouses or just bigger units are being rented.”
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s Rental Market Report for the fourth quarter of 2016 found the average price for condos with three or more bedrooms increased by 16.35 per cent last year. In comparison, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment increased by 7.30 per cent.
It’s not just Ontario’s recent moves aimed at curbing the housing market that have some convinced that the market is set for a slowdown, and soon. For Ms. Gollogly, it was the election of Donald Trump. For Mr. Wheeler, it is his conviction that the Bank of Canada will raise interest rates.
Penny Brown, a realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, has noticed a couple trends: People are insisting on closing sales quickly, as if the market could crash any day; people are downsizing while they’re still young; and people are moving into nearby cities such as Cambridge or Hamilton to work remotely.
While selling and leasing might offer the chance to cash in on a rising market, the sellers still need a place to live and may find leasing too expensive.
Terri Roberts lives in a Markham house worth three times what she originally paid. She wants to sell, and rent in the city so her two children have access to the perks of Toronto and to reduce her daily commute. So far, she and her realtors haven’t found a three-bedroom place that’s within her budget and in a neighbourhood that she’s comfortable living in.
“It’s frustrating. Very frustrating.”
Mr. Wheeler is having similar troubles. Although his house sold at a good price for Cambridge, a declining number of listings has made leasing as competitive as buying. And although he’s convinced banks will raise interest rates in the future, leading to a market collapse, he admits there’s no way to tell when that might happen or what the effect on the Cambridge real estate market might be.
“At this point, [the sale feels] good, but who’s to say it’s not going to get even worse and I’ll have gotten out too early? That’s the gamble you take.”
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.