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Moving to a New Area – How to Feel at Home in Your New Environment

POSTED ON March 30th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-03-30

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!

How to Find the Perfect Neighbourhood for You

POSTED ON March 28th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-03-28

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.

Find Your Perfect Home – Once you have found the perfect area, it is now time to find your dream home. Get all the information and assistance you need by calling me at 416.921.1112. Your dream home is out there and I can help you find it.

Done Deals: Rosedale Condo Appeals to Luxury-Loving Downsizers

POSTED ON March 24th  - POSTED IN Done Deals, Featured News

Done Deals: Rosedale Condo Appeals to Luxury-Loving Downsizers              33 Jackes Avenue

SYDNIA YU

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017

33 JACKES AVE., No. 602, TORONTO

ASKING PRICE: $2,550,000

SELLING PRICE: $2,450,000

TAXES: $20,192 (2016)

DAYS ON THE MARKET: 60

LISTING AGENT: Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.

The Action: On a short street between Yonge Street and Rosehill Reservoir is a boutique building where this two-bedroom-plus-den suite had about four dozen showings spread out over two months late last year.

What They Got: In the 1980s, this mid-rise building was designed with only 28 large luxury units, with direct elevator access, an on-site pool and fitness and recreational amenities.

This 2,964-square-foot suite with a den faces the park. The living room has a hidden dry bar and the dining area is finished with herringbone hardwood floors. A remodelled Bellini kitchen with Miele appliances, granite and marble finishes also has treetop views from a balcony with a second walkout from one of two bedrooms.

Three bathrooms, laundry machines and two lockers and parking spots are notable conveniences. Monthly fees of $3,202 go toward water, heating, concierge and valet parking.

The Agent’s Take: “It’s a beautiful building – still very popular,” agent Elli Davis said. “Typically, there are four [units] per floor, each two-bedroom and dens, 2 1/2 baths, which is very sought after for boomers selling larger homes in Rosedale and Forest Hill.”

“It’s easy, one-level living with direct access to lots of services and TLC,” Ms. Davis said.

Planning for Retirement: How Much Money Should You Save?

POSTED ON March 23rd  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-03-23

Have you started planning for your retirement?

A recent survey conducted by the Royal Bank of Canada suggests that almost half of Canadians 55 years or older are not on track with their retirement planning. The same number of people also said their main concern was about money – and whether they will have enough to get them through retirement.

It is never too early (or too late) to start planning and making considerations for retirement. A few things to think about:

How Much Money Do You Need to Save?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Many financial experts suggest that you will need 70 per cent of your working income to live comfortably in retirement. Others say that you should be planning to require 100 per cent of your income, and then go from there. Contrary to these opinions, other experts suggest that we need a lot less money than we think.

How Much of Your Income are You Living on Now?

If you are stressing about needing a high percentage of your working income to live comfortably during retirement, consider how much of your income you are living on now. You may think it is 100 per cent, but if you deduct mortgage payments, commuting costs, costs of raising children, etc. – that percentage is much, much, less.  Did you know that the average Canadian actually lives using about 30 per cent of their income for most of their lives?

Expenses Change

Think about all your current expenses – how many of these will be unnecessary once you retire? Will your mortgage be paid off? Will you still be financially supporting any family members? Odds are that some of your biggest reoccurring expenses will be gone when it comes time for retirement.

Your Retirement Vision

Many expenses will go away, but new ones will arise. Think about your retirement vision and factor in the expenses associated with your plan. Do you hope to do a lot of traveling? Will you be taking on an expensive hobby or investing in a vacation home? Retirement will mean different things to different people.

Consider what you want your retirement to look like and start planning accordingly. Remember that there will be different stages in your retirement, and your needs and routines will change. For example, many people find their costs are higher in early retirement when they spend a lot of time traveling, or exploring new passions. Spending tends to decrease after about ten years, with the exception of expenses related to healthcare.

You may not be ready to start planning the details of your retirement, but it is never too early to start saving for it.

Fixer-Upper or Move-in Ready? A Look at the Pros and Cons

POSTED ON March 21st  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-03-21

Houses in Toronto come in all shapes and sizes and can range from heritage to sleek and modern. When looking for a new home, there are many considerations – Is the location ideal? Is it in my budget? Will it suit all my needs? But also: how much work do I want to take on?

Depending on the type of home you like, you may be faced with the decision of whether or not to take on a ‘fixer-upper’. You may be looking to take on a big project, or you may prefer to do no work at all. Here is a look at the pros and cons of both options:

Pros of Fixer-Uppers

  • Lower Initial Cost – Homes that require work will usually be priced lower than a renovated home.
  • Creative Control – You have the opportunity to update and renovate the home however you like. You will have complete control in the final product.
  • Add Value Most of the time, by investing some money and elbow grease, you will be adding more value to your home. If you plan to sell again in the not-so-distant future, this is an important consideration.

Cons of Fixer-Upper

  • Unexpected Costs – Costs can quickly add up, and you will not always be aware of them upon initial inspection. Surprises can arise and budgets should have room for some unexpected spending. You will not be able to determine the exact condition of everything in the house until you are in the renovation process.
  • Plenty of Work – Whether you decide to take things on yourself, or hire others to do the tasks, at the end of the day – it is a lot of work. Some renovation projects can take almost a year to complete. Be prepared to devote a lot of time and energy into the project.
  • Delayed Move-In – The planning and work involved in renovations can significantly delay your move-in date. If you are only taking on minor renovations, living at home can be suitable, but if the renovations are large, or if you have children or pets to consider, you may need to find a place to stay while projects are underway.

Pros of Move-In Ready

  • It Is Easy – This is an obvious one! A move-in ready home is just that – it is ready to move in to. You can head straight to the fun stuff – decorating and enjoying your space.
  • Newer Features –  A new or newly-renovated home will usually have updated appliances and new technology throughout the home.
  • Energy Efficient – Newer homes are more energy efficient than older homes thanks to better insulation, glazing and heating methods. Upgrading an older home can help, but it will still be difficult to match the efficiency of a newer build.

Cons of Move-In Ready

  • More Expensive – To recoup the costs of updating, sellers often price move-in ready homes at a higher price point. You are paying a premium for someone else’s work. Doing the same level of work to a fixer-upper is often much cheaper because you keep the profit.
  • Questionable Quality – Move-in ready homes can be built/updated beautifully with the best materials, but it is not always the case. When you are not there to oversee the work, it is hard to ensure that everything is done properly and with care.
  • Less Creative Control – Odds are that a developer or previous home owner will not share your same vision, so the home may have some details that are not exactly “you”.

Would you rather put in the work and have a completely customized older home, or find a sleek new modern home that is ready to enjoy? Whatever your preference – there are plenty of options out there. Give me a call at 416.921.1112 and we can work together to find your dream home.

5 Unique Places to Dine in Toronto

POSTED ON March 16th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-03-16

Toronto has no shortage of amazing food and drink venues – you do not have to be a foodie to appreciate all the fantastic dining experiences our beautiful city has on offer. With so many options – how does one decide? If you are looking for something out of the ordinary for your next date night, check out these 5 incredibly unique establishments:

1. O. Noir – 620 Church St.

Dine in Complete Darkness. It is said that when we lose one of our senses that the others are heightened. If you are looking for a unique dining experience that will surprise and delight O. Noir is the place to go! With a dining room completely void of light, diners are taken through a 2 or 3 course culinary experience in the dark. Served and assisted by seeing-impaired staff, guests taste their way through surprise dishes and immerse themselves in a one-of-a-kind experience. Two course meals start at $32 and there are two dinner services per evening. Reservations are recommended.

2. Gallery Grill. 7 Hart House Circle

Scrumptious Lunch/Brunch in a Historical Building. Enjoy a casual drink by the fireplace, or reserve a table in the beautiful dining hall in Hart House. Chef Suzanne Baby prepares comforting yet cosmopolitan lunch/brunch options that you can enjoy while you take in the views of the sculpture garden. With vaulted ceilings and hand-painted stained glass windows, this neo-gothic building is a unique lunch-time dining destination. Open to the public from September to June, reservations are recommended.

3. Auberge du Pommier. 4150 Yonge St.

Upscale French Dining in an Unexpected Spot. A tiny French restaurant set in two meticulously-restored woodcutter’s cottages from the 1860’s. Tucked away amongst the high-rises in North York, this little gem offers 5 star service and cuisine. Enjoy traditional French cuisine with fresh North American influences. Although this fine dining restaurant comes with fine dining price tags, most guests commend the restaurant for the high value they receive. If you are looking for a romantic escape in an unexpected place, this restaurant is a great choice. Reservations are necessary.

4. Mysteriously Yours. 2026 Yonge St.

Solve a Murder Mystery While You Dine. Taking ‘dinner and a show’ to a whole new level! Savour excellent food while you engage in a funny and smart interactive murder mystery. Mysteriously Yours is the world’s largest producer of murder mystery entertainment, so you know you are in for an unforgettable night. Whether you dine with two, or twenty-two, this experience is a great way to share laughs and great food with friends. Reservations are recommended.

5. Chill Ice House82 Bathurst St.

Enjoy Drinks in a Lounge Made of Ice. In case the winter was not cold enough already, why not enjoy a cocktail in a lounge completely made of ice? Chill Ice House provides a one-of-a-kind experience where visitors can put on complimentary capes and gloves and get together with friends to sip on drinks from cups made of – you guessed it – ice! The bar, walls, tables and seating are all made of ice as well. The lounge is kept at a cool – 5 degrees Celsius, so make sure to wear layers. If you are not a fan of the cold, the lounge is also connected to a (warm) speakeasy in the back where light snacks are available. Admission is $20 for adults and reservations are recommended.

Have you visited any of these establishments before? How was your experience? Let me know!

6 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Beautify Your Home this Weekend

POSTED ON March 14th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-03-14

Spring is just around the corner! Taking on a home improvement project can be a fun and rewarding activity for the weekend. If you are not the handiest of people, have no fear – there are projects even the most inexperienced of us can perfect. Here are 6 easy and inexpensive ways to beautify your home this weekend:

1. Grab a Paint Brush. Take a look around your house – are there baseboards, cabinets or walls that have seen better days? A lot of the time, a thorough clean and a fresh coat of paint is all it takes to make things look like new. If you decide to paint a room this weekend, consider making one of your walls an accent wall – here are some tips for picking the right wall and colours.

2. Look for a Unique Piece to Stand Out in Your Space. Take a trip to your local thrift store or flea market, or look through postings online for a one-of-a-kind piece to step up your decor. You would be surprised where designers find some of their amazing furnishings! Scouring thrift stores and markets is a great way to find older, high quality items that often just need a little bit of TLC.

3. Put Effort Into the Details. Sometimes, the tiniest details can make a huge difference in how we perceive our surroundings. For example, an ordinary guestroom can feel luxurious with a high-quality rug, high-thread count sheets and face towels tied with ribbon placed on the side table. A few key details can transform any room. Not sure what you can do to improve your space? Here are a few ideas:

Decorative Curtain Rings. (for your shower, or window curtains). Instead of regular curtain rings, use decorative napkin holders and use linen or ribbons as an accent OR tie them on directly with ribbons.

Frame It. Thick, elegant frames can make just about anything look luxurious. Try framing your wall-mounted television, the bathroom mirror or even light switch plates! A little creativity can go a long way.

Upgrade Your Bedding. Plush pillows and crisp white linens can make your bed feel like it belongs in a 5 star hotel. If you want to step things up an extra notch, create a DIY canopy bed.

4. Create a Gallery Wall. A gallery wall is a great way to add interest to any room. If you are like many people, you have an accumulation of photographs, prints, paintings, etc. collecting dust somewhere. Look through your collection and pick out between 7-12 of your favourite pieces/photos. Record the sizes of the pieces and find frames to match them. You can choose to get crazy with different colours or keep things neutral with all black or white frames. Create a layout with your pieces on the floor before nailing anything to the wall, and take a look at this ‘how to’ article. Before you spend big bucks on framing – visit your local secondhand stores and look for frames that match your style (remember: painting over frames is easy!). Craft stores like Michaels also tend to have great deals.

5. Get Organized. Tackle a mess this weekend. Is there a part of your home that could use some TLC? Whether it is your garage, clothes closet, craft room or kitchen, pick a section of your home and make it your weekend project. Focusing on a small area is less daunting than deciding you want to organize the entire house, and you will have the time and energy to focus on the details. Once it is clean and organized, you may find yourself inspired to do more in the space!

6. Do a Simple DIY Project. Look for projects that are aligned with your interests. If your garage is your happy place, you can look into making garage shelving, building a workbench, or creating the perfect tool organization system. Whatever your interests are, there are project ideas out there that cater to your skill level, so get out there and try something new. Remember, safety first!

Are you taking on any home improvement projects this weekend? Let me know!

5 Simple Tips to Keep the Chill Out of Your Home

POSTED ON March 9th  - POSTED IN Featured News

Winter is not quite over yet, there are still a few weeks of frosty temperatures coming our way. If you are feeling the chill inside your home – try these 5 simple tips to keep the cold air out and the warm air in:

1. Use Curtains – In the day time, open your curtains to make use of the free heat from the sun. The sunlight will do wonders in warming up your home and help keep the space bright and cheerful! Once the sun sets, close your curtains to create a layer of insulation and keep the warmth inside your home throughout the night.

2. Use Timers for Heating –Think ahead and have your heat programmed to turn on at least 30 minutes before you are due to get up in the morning. Programming the heat earlier, at a lower temperature, is more economical than turning the heat on when you get up, at a higher temperature. Remember that a boiler heats up at a constant speed – whether you set it to 20°C or 30°C. Lowering your thermostat by 1 degree can save you upwards of 10 per cent on your energy bill. Remember to lower the temperature by a few degrees before you leave the house if you will be out all day.

3. Keep Heat Sources Clear – Keeping radiators and air vents unobstructed will allow for proper air circulation through your home. It might feel cozy having your couch directly in front of a radiator, but this actually allows the couch to absorb heat – and prevents the radiator from heating the rest of your home. Curtains and clothing that is left out to dry will also absorb heat.

4. Put Up Wall Coverings – The air in your home heats up a lot faster than the walls do. In a poorly insulated home, the inside of the external walls can be several degrees colder than the air. One simple way to warm up your walls is by hanging pictures, mirrors, tapestries or even a poster. A framed picture hung on an external wall is around 1.5°C warmer than a bare wall. By installing hung items, you are adding an extra layer of insulating air and raising internal surface temperatures. If it suits your tastes, a decorative rug or tapestry does wonders warming up a wall.

5. Keep Warm While You Sleep – Do you feel cold at night? It could be because you are positioned close to an external wall. Ideally, your bed should be as far away as possible from cold walls and drafty windows. If space is an issue, and you are forced to be by a window, having a substantial headboard will make you feel much warmer. Instead of cranking the heat, consider a heated blanket and cozy pajamas for those extra-chilly nights.

Staying warm in the winter is important. Ensure that any air leaks are taken care of. A drafty house is harder (and more expensive) to heat. Want some more tips on taking care of your older home? Perhaps you are ready to make a change? Feel free to give me a call at 416.921.1112; I am always happy to help.

Spring is Almost Here, Enjoy a Final Winter Getaway at One of Ontario’s Many Parks

POSTED ON March 7th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-03-07

It is finally March, and as much as we may be looking forward to turning in our snowpants and ice-scrapers for shorts and suntan lotion, there is no reason not to enjoy the last few weeks of winter! Before you store away the ice skates and parkas – pack an overnight bag and create some winter memories at one of these fabulous Ontario parks:

Sandbanks Provincial ParkUp for a little road trip through Prince Edward County? This area is the perfect destination for the wine and food lover inside all of us. Explore beautiful wineries and dine at exquisite restaurants before checking into your comfortable accommodations right in the park. Cottages boast beautiful fireplaces and fully-equipped kitchens with options large enough to sleep eight.

MacGregor Point Provincial Park Ever considered spending the night in a yurt? MacGregor Point offers visitors the unique opportunity to sleep in one of sixteen heated yurts equipped with electricity, large bunk beds, a table, chairs and outdoor barbeque. Your romantic yurt getaway will be complete with a skate through the woods on a lit-up ice trail. Take in the views and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa as you skate under the stars.

Killarney Provincial Park – If you are the adventurous type, Killarney park might just be worth the drive. The wild Georgian Bay landscape, mountains and dark skies are the perfect setting for the park’s various trails (33 kilometres-worth!). These trails are only accessible in the winter months and are perfect for skiing or snowshoeing. Spend the night in one of two camp cabins or one of six yurts.

Windy Lake Provincial Park If you want to catch some snow before winter ends – Northern Ontario is where you need to go. Windy Lake has exceptionally groomed trails and the area is often the first to see snow in Ontario, lasting right through early spring. There are yurts available that provide cozy overnight accommodations. Grab some skis or snowshoes and do some exploring in the snow.

If overnight adventuring in the cold is not your cup of tea – consider these winter-friendly activities happening close to home:

Winter Activities in Toronto

Outdoor Skating Rinks – rinks are plentiful in the GTA – nothing beats a cup of hot cocoa and an evening of skating on the stars. List of outdoor rinks in the GTA.

Evergreen Brick WorksEvergreen is a Canadian charity that transforms public landscapes into community spaces. They offer lots of family-friendly activities and events year-round. Looking for March Break activities for the kids? Check out their winter events listing.

The Beach Winter Stations – Back for its third year, Winter Stations is inviting Torontonians to explore the city’s winter waterfront. Check out the public art exhibition with six new lifeguard stands. Check out their website for locations and more information.

Ice Fishing – This one may not be in Toronto, but if you ever wanted to try out ice fishing there are some surprisingly close destinations (as close as Hamilton). If you are ready to bundle up and try your luck fishing, check out this list of ice fishing spots close to home.

Do you have any fun winter activities planned for March? Let us know what you are doing!

Market Watch Report: February 2017

POSTED ON March 3rd  - POSTED IN Featured News, Market Watch

Sales Up and Listings Down in February

March 3, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 8,014 residential sales through TREB’s MLS® System in February 2017. Despite the fact that February 2016 had one more day due to the leap year day, this result was up on a year-over-year basis by 5.7 per cent compared to 7,583 sales reported last year.

“The February statistics tell me that many Greater Toronto Area households continue to view home ownership as a great long-term investment. The high demand for ownership housing we’re seeing is broad-based, with strong sales growth for most low-rise home types and condominium apartments. This makes sense given the results of a recent consumer survey undertaken for TREB by Ipsos, which found an even split between intending first-time buyers and existing homeowners who indicated that they were planning on purchasing a home in 2017,” said Cerqua.

While the demand for ownership housing grew over the past year, new listings entered into TREB’s MLS® System in February were down on a year-over-year basis by 12.5 per cent to 9,834.

The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark Price was up by 23.8 per cent compared to February 2016. Similarly, the average selling price was up by 27.7 per cent year-over-year to $875,983. Annual rates of price growth continued to be strongest for low-rise home types, particularly detached houses. Growth rates for condominium apartment prices were also in the double digits, likely a result of strong demand from first-time buyers.

“The listing supply crunch we are experiencing in the GTA has undoubtedly led to the double digit home price increases we are now experiencing on a sustained basis, both in the low-rise and high-rise market segments. Until we see a marked increase in the number of homes available for sale, expect very strong annual rates of price growth to continue,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Complete Report: February 2017