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Planning an Encore Career as a Boomer? What to Consider.

POSTED ON January 3rd  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-01-03

Many Canadian boomers are putting retirement plans aside to pursue encore careers. Taking on a second career that allows you to follow your passions can make you feel like you never want to retire.

Is there a business you always wanted to start? Or a job you always wanted to have? If you are planning for a second ‘encore’ career, here are a few things to consider:

First: Ensure Your Finances Are In Order. When deciding on an encore career, it is important to do your research and develop a strategy. Will you be working your primary job while you explore other options? Speak with your accountant/financial planner to figure out the following:

Whether you have enough money saved to survive a year of unemployment while your new job or business takes off.

How much money you will need to earn from your new career/venture to maintain a decent standard of living in the foreseeable future.


Second: Figure Out What You Want To Do. Critically assess what you will be offering in your next career. Always aim to do what you love and think about the following:

What are your passions?

What experience and knowledge do you have to offer that makes you unique?

What do you have to offer that people will pay you money for, and who are those people?

Monetize a Hobby. Consider what you already do in your spare time. Do you enjoy cooking new dishes on a weekly basis? Do you sew for everyone in the family? Do you plan parties and events for your friends? Hobbies can come in all shapes and sizes, and if you are really good at something, it is likely that with a bit of work you could turn it into a business. If you have a life-long passion, it is worthwhile to pursue it as a career.

Start an Online Business. As a boomer, you probably started your career in the 1960s and ’70s – where a large amount of capital was required to start a business. Often hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover equipment, salaries, renting space, inventory, etc. Today, anyone with a computer and internet access can start their own business. Sometimes the cost could be as little as $20 a month to get started. The internet is a great place to start if you are looking to sell products or to advertise services.

Get Connected. Instead of starting a new venture from scratch after retirement, test out a new career by working at it on the side while you are still employed. This gives you luxury to take risks while still maintaining a steady income. Retrain, volunteer or work part-time as unpaid internet to get to know the business and network with all the right people. Take your time, make yourself as competitive and well-connected as possible before looking for work or launching your business.

Do your research and talk to people. Get a good idea of what you want to do and how you are going to accomplish it. Your challenge is to find out what you truly want, and create a life from which you never want to retire…

Greenery, Pantone’s Colour of the Year

POSTED ON December 29th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-29

Every year, since 1999, Pantone announces a Colour of the Year. Earlier this month it was announced that 2017’s colour is Greenery. Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade reminiscent of spring time.

The experts at Pantone advise a variety of industries on the use of colour from fashion and home design, to packaging and product development. For 17 years, they have been choosing colours and scouting trends through the year in media, on runways and in trade shows around the world.

This year, green is everywhere. Fashion designers are playing with green tones in their prints and accessories and green hued beauty products are popular with shades for eyes, nails, and lips. Major celebrities have even been spotted with green coloured hair this year.

The shade symbolizes the desire to be healthy, to use organic products and to protect the environment. It is a colour associated with innovation and minimalism – commonly used in logos and advertising for apps and start-ups. The colour also represents all things ‘re’ – revive, restore, renew, refresh and reinvigorate – evoking the feeling of the first days of spring.

According to the colour experts, there is a growing desire to reconnect with nature and what is real – the need to stop and breathe. The colour is represented in the first buds and grass blades of spring, but it has also been a popular colour choice in history at times of major cultural shifts.

Greenery in the Home

The use of green hues has been gaining popularity in the home. People are connecting with the elements outside through open spaces, large windows, forest-like murals and living moss walls. In fact, plants of all sizes are being seen in every room of the house from succulents on bookshelves, to large palms in foyers.

If you are not a fan of house plants, add a touch of colour with green curtains, rugs, or plush pillows. Look for floral patterns that have vibrant greens throughout. Greenery pairs well with crisp whites, light blues and gold accents.

If you have a mostly neutral room, play up the space with a green textured accent wall. Place an oversized white sofa against the wall with a few light blue cushions. Add to the look by hanging gold frames and incorporating navy blue accents. For a look at some greenery design inspiration, check out these design examples.

Colour is a huge part of home decor, if you are not sure what goes well with your favourite shades, you can read up on colour theory with this informative article:  Colour Theory Basics for the Home.

What do you think of Pantone’s choice for 2017? If you are planning on incorporating this year’s colour – check out the greenery colour pairings to help you develop the perfect colour scheme for your home. Happy decorating!

Keep Your Home Safe this Winter with These Tips

POSTED ON December 27th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-27

Winter can be a truly beautiful season, but the falling snow and dropping temperatures can also cause problems for your home. During the colder months we rely heavily on the mechanical systems in our homes and it is important that our heating, plumbing and electrical components work properly. Be prepared for the weather – focus on these areas in and around your home to stay safe and avoid future problems:

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams are created when a roof has improper ventilation, heat begins to collect and melts the snow that is on the roof. The water from the melted snow then runs down and freezes in the eavestrough – forming a dam. Most of these issues start with the attic, so make sure the space is properly sealed, ventilated, and insulated. The attic is a ‘cold zone’ and should be the same temperature as the outside.

Clean the Gutters

Gutters should be cleaned out before the snow falls. During the cold weather, clogged gutters will cause large hanging icicles to form and/or the accumulation of ice on the roof. Ensure gutters are free of leaves and debris for water to run freely.

Frozen Pipes

A big problem many home owners face during the winter months. Pipes freeze when they are improperly insulated and/or are not used for prolonged periods of time. Prevent this by wrapping inside pipes with insulation material and ensure exterior plumbing lines are drained. Allow a bit of water to run through the faucet and flush toilets every so often to keep water moving in extremely cold conditions. If there is no flow from one faucet and the rest work fine, this could be a sign of frozen pipes. Remember, if you have one frozen pipe – the others in the same area are vulnerable as well.

Broken Pipes

When water freezes, it expands. This puts pressure on the container holding it. Frozen pipes can break and this can lead to flooding. You may not even know a pipe is broken until after it thaws out, at which point you may come home to a flooded house. If you think you may have frozen pipes, contact a licensed plumber to investigate before any bigger problems occur.

Shovel Safety

Clear your walkway, driveway, and sidewalk soon after a snow fall. This ensures your safety and the safety of pedestrians walking by your property. Putting off snow removal can also create more work. If the temperature changes, you may be left shoveling heavy slush or snow with layers of ice. The City of Toronto states that sidewalks should be cleared no later than 12 hours after a snow fall. Failing to do this can result in a $125 fine.

Fireplace Safety

Ensure that your fireplace is usable and safe. Wood-burning fireplaces should be checked by a specialized inspector and gas fireplaces should be checked yearly by a licensed gas technician. It is very important to ensure your gas fireplace is working correctly – otherwise there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Have your chimney cleaned and inspected yearly to ensure that the flue is intact. A small fracture can expand into larger cracks and allow toxic fumes to seep in. Placing a gate in front of a wood-burning fireplace keeps embers in and children and pets out. Always ensure a fire is completely out before leaving your home or going to bed.

Taking a few extra precautions now will ensure that you are able to stay safe and warm during the holidays and enjoy peace of mind for the rest of the season.

Thinking Positively About Toronto’s Hot Real Estate Market

POSTED ON December 22nd  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-22

Whenever the real estate market sways strongly towards either buyers or sellers, there is a tendency to focus on the negative impacts. The main complaints are that homes become unaffordable or that selling a home is going to take a very long time.

As human beings, we are wired to focus on the negative effects in our environment. Although difficult to fight our natural instincts, it is wise instead to try to focus on the POSITIVE outcomes of various market situations.

The Buyer’s Market

In a strong buyer’s market, there are more homes for sale than there are buyers to purchase them. With an abundance of buyers, home prices drop. Sellers might see this as a negative: homes can stay on the market longer, and they might not get the price they want.

However, and it is a BIG however, a buyer’s market makes it affordable and accessible for more people to buy properties who in other markets would not be able to participate. A property might take a little longer to sell, but on the flipside it should be easier to purchase a new home! Plus, new home purchases stimulate the economy, as new homeowners tend to invest in renovations, new appliances, etc.

The Seller’s Market

Toronto has been in the grips of a strong seller’s market for years now, and it does not look like it is going to let up. Many people bemoan their inability to find housing that is affordable, but again, choose to look at the positive side.

Sellers control the price of their home, as there is wild competition from buyers to make an offer that is firm, without conditions and include the terms the seller w ideally wants. Properties are on the market for what feels like minutes, and sellers often receive the full value of their asking price – sometimes even more. They can then use this extra cash towards their investments, or in new renovations for when they purchase their new home.

In a utopian world, we would place a property for sale during a seller’s market to obtain the best price for our home, purchase in a buyer’s market. Sadly, that is not going to happen.

The best thing you can do is be prepared, think ahead and use the help of an experienced REALTOR® with proved results to help map out your strategy for selling and buying your properties. Done right, you will have a satisfactory sale of your home and make a smart investment on your next purchase.

Icewine in Niagara, Where to go this Winter

POSTED ON December 20th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-20

Winter is in full-swing and the holidays are just around the corner. Whether you are searching for the perfect weekend getaway or looking to shop for the wine-lover on your list, look no further than the Niagara region this season. Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to beautiful vineyards and attractions with many wineries producing icewines all year long.

Not familiar with icewine? Icewine, often called dessert wine (sweet and generally served at the end of a meal), is made from frozen grapes. It comes in a range of flavours from fruits to chocolate. It tastes the best with rich flavoured foods like foie gras and aged blue cheese.

Ontario’s Niagara region is a large producer of the country’s icewines, and is actually considered to have some of the best icewine in the world…

The following three wineries have extra-special winter tours and icewine tastings for the perfect day trip:

Peller Estates Winery (Niagara-on-the-Lake) At Peller Estates, wine lovers can explore the winery and end the tour by stepping into the 10 Below Lounge. The lounge is made with more than 13 thousand kilograms of ice and visitors enjoy a tasting while they hang around in what feels like an igloo (parkas are provided!). In January, they have an outdoor seated icewine cocktail experience where you can explore the production of Niagara Icewine and the history of the delicacy.

Inniskillin (Niagara-on-the-Lake) Inniskillin dessert wines are a classic. With both an Icewine Tasting Bar, and the Icewine Tour, it is a great place to visit for a quick getaway. At the Tasting Bar, guests learn about icewine production and have the opportunity to taste-test various flavours. During the tour, you can learn about the origins of icewine in Niagara and get a quick history lesson.

The Ice House Winery (Niagara-on-the-Lake) This winery is solely dedicated to the production of icewine. It is a great place to visit if you are interested in immersing yourself in the history of various icewines. They also make delicious spiked-slushies for tour participants to enjoy!

January is icewine month, so it might be a good idea to book your tastings and tours early for a great holiday gift!

Visiting Niagara in Winter has its Perks

Since winter is Niagara’s slow season for tourism, you can find great deals on hotels, entertainment and parking. There are beautiful sights to be enjoyed, such as the light display on the frozen falls, and the U.S. border is nearby for state-side attractions. Visit Niagara Falls Tourism and Niagara on the Lake Tourism for an up-to-date list of attractions and helpful information.

Preparing to Downsize? Keep These Things in Mind.

POSTED ON December 15th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-15

Moving from a 5,000 square foot house into a 750 square foot condo can feel less like downsizing and more like miniaturizing. Switching from one type of space to the other can require a lot of practical planning. What will you take with you? How will you define your new space? Here are a few things to remember when preparing to downsize:

Utilize Multi-Purpose Items. With limited space, your furnishings need to work a little harder. Look for an ottoman that opens up to store quilts, a coffee table that lifts up to become a desk, a drop leaf table that serves as a sideboard (and opens up to seat eight), and a couch that pulls out to become a bed for guests. All these items are practical on their own but with extra functionality they can help to minimize clutter.

Focus on What is Practical. It can be tough to get rid of items that you once spent a lot of money on. If they will not serve you well in your new space, they will cost you more in the long run. Not only will they take up much needed space (where you could have had something you use more often), they will also cost you money to move or store. Ensure you are only taking the practical or extra-special items with you.

Furniture Can Be a Big Hurdle. Some of the big ticket items in your home are also probably just plain big. It may be necessary to replace outdated bulky furniture with newer sleek designs. Older large furniture that has been in the family for years can be very hard to let go of. Before you make any big decisions, decide if passing the furniture on to friends or family members is a possibility. This way, you can still go by to see the items and know that they are being used well. Tip: Large sectional furniture is great because it can be pulled apart and set up in new configurations – great for smaller or hard-to-furnish rooms.

Take Your Time. Moving is an important decision and it should not be rushed. Make sure you make the right move. Do not downsize too far. Retirement is a time to explore hobbies and spend time with loved ones, so make sure your new space can accommodate this.

Consider Future Restrictions. Look for a home with few or no stairs and that has easy to reach cupboards to help keep chores and maintenance to a minimum. As we age, our eyesight worsens so ensure you have enough natural light or plenty of lights with high-wattage bulbs to aid with vision.

You are Downsizing – Not Stepping Down. If your home has been the family hub for years, that does not have to change. Your new home can still be a place for the family to get together. Ideally, you would have a separate apartment or suite for visiting family, but we know this is not always possible. Instead, design your rooms with movable and versatile items. For example, if you have a craft room, include a sofa and make sure you can easily fold up tables and move them out of the way for a convertible guest room. The key is to design rooms for maximum usage and enjoyment. As long as you can offer a little bit of privacy and comfort, your guests will be more than happy to stay the night!

There are a lot of decisions to be made when planning to downsize. If you require assistance with the real estate side of things, call me at 416-921-1112 to have your questions answered today.

Kitchen Renovations – 5 Steps to Finding the Perfect Cabinets

POSTED ON December 13th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-13

Are you planning a kitchen renovation? Start with the perfect cabinets. Follow these 5 steps to find the right cabinetry for you:

1. Choosing the Right Material – There are a range of cabinet materials available. Wood, reclaimed materials, laminate, and medium density fibreboard are all popular options. All materials will range in price, durability, and ease of maintenance. If you are looking for a durable, easy to clean, and cost-effective option, laminate is a good choice. Wooden cabinets are great for customization and creating a new look down the road.

2. Picking the Perfect Colour – The gleaming white kitchen has been a popular choice in recent years, but it looks like colour is making its way back into the kitchen. Choose a cabinet colour that will work well with your countertops, flooring and backsplash. Gray is a popular choice for cabinets, and it pairs nicely with stainless steel appliances and black countertops. Remember that dark paints and stains do not hide dust well. Lighter cabinets may stain more easily, but they also hide dust. Consider what would be easier for you to maintain.

3. Deciding on Paint or Stain – Kitchen cabinets are largely about the finish. Do you prefer a sleek, or a textured finish? To help you decide, here are some pros and cons to both:

Paint

PROS: Offers a clean aesthetic, flawless finish and crisp design. Offers endless possibilities for colour options and opportunity for customization. Allows you to cover up any imperfections in the wood.

CONS: About 10-15 per cent more expensive than stain. Harder to touch up. If you bought semi-custom or prefabricated cabinets, you may not be able to find an exact colour match. Cabinetmakers may also apply paints by spraying – this method looks great but it is harder to replicate with a touch-up kit. Brushed finishes are easier to touch up.

Stain

PROS: Shows more wood features, and has a good balance between color and texture. Allows natural character of the wood to shine through and is easier to touch-up.

CONS: Stains will show all imperfections. Not all cabinets take stain well. Cabinets made of fibreboard are better suited for paint while higher end natural wood cabinetry can look brilliant with stain.

4. Updating with Hardware – Bold colour is not the only way to create interest with cabinets. Bold knobs, pulls and handles are a simple and inexpensive addition that can change the overall appearance of your kitchen. Pairing contemporary hardware with classic wooden cabinets can bring your kitchen into the 21st century.

5. Getting Innovative – Kitchens are getting high-tech, and it is not just the appliances! Cabinetmakers are coming out with innovative cabinets that are self-closing, space-saving and designed for different functions throughout the kitchen. Have a small kitchen? You can now find specially designed cabinets to make the most use of your space.

Are you renovating to sell? A modern/updated kitchen is one of the most sought-after features that home buyers look for in a home. If you have any questions on how to get your kitchen (and the rest of your home) looking its best, call me at 416.921.1112.

Double the Rebate for First-Time Home Buyers in Ontario

POSTED ON December 8th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-08

With the onset of slightly higher mortgage rates, the province introduced a tax refund to increase affordability for first-time home buyers. The government announced that the first-time home buyers maximum Land Transfer Tax refund will be doubled to $4,000 as of January 1, 2017.

This means that eligible buyers will not be paying Land Transfer Tax (LTT) on the first $368,000 of their home’s purchase price. With this new refund amount, more than 50 per cent of first-time home buyers in Ontario will pay zero LTT on the purchase of their new home. This change is most beneficial for those buying homes under the $400,000 price point.

Land Transfer Tax Rates

Land Transfer Tax rates have remained the same since 1989. The new modernized rates are updated to include a rate for homes $2 million and over – rates for these homes will be 2.5%. Back in 1989, a $400,000 home was considered the benchmark of a luxury property – times have most definitely changed!

Will the Rebate Make a Difference?

There is much discussion about millennials and the difficulty they face in realizing the Canadian dream of home ownership. Market experts say that $4,000 is pocket change and not significant enough to have much effect on a home buyer’s purchasing decision. Tim Hudak, the incoming CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, on the other hand, is satisfied with the change and says the tax refund will help ease the upfront costs of buying a home.

Along With this Tax Refund, There are Other Rebates Already Available to First-Time Home Buyers in Ontario:

Home Buyer’s Plan – Buyers have the opportunity to use their RRSP contribution towards a down payment on their first home. You can withdraw up to $25,000 from any RRSP account. If two people are buying their first home together – the total contribution can be $50,000.

First-Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit – If you have not owned a home within the last four years, you may be eligible for the first-time home buyer’s tax credit. The credit is based on $5,000 multiplied by the lowest income tax rate for that year. For example, in 2014 the rate was 15%, making the value of the credit $750.

New Housing Rebate – If you are buying a new house, you may be eligible for an HST tax rebate through the federal government. The program is designed to help with the federal portion of the HST. Applications for this rebate can be found on the Service Canada website.

If you are a first-time home buyer and are hoping to take advantage of all the rebates and incentives available, feel free to e-mail me at mail@ellidavis.com or call 416 -921-1112, I can provide you with helpful resources and get you on your way.

Outdoor parties in Winter? How to host the perfect holiday party in your backyard

POSTED ON December 6th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-6

If you are planning a holiday get-together this season, why not try something new and have an outdoor party. It may be cold out but with a little bit of preparation, your backyard can be the perfect cozy space to entertain family and friends.

Here are 5 tips on how to create the perfect outdoor party this holiday season:

Keep Seating Casual And Warm

With lower temperatures, having warm and comfortable seating is extremely important. Whether your guests use benches, chairs, or cushions, ensure that there is enough material separating your guests from the cold wet ground. Provide blankets, pillows, and even provide hats and mittens in case it gets extra chilly.

Fire It Up

A fire is a fantastic element to any outdoor party. It becomes a great gathering place and supplies much needed warmth and light. Remember to supply roasting sticks, marshmallows and sausages for those guests that want to enjoy a camp-like experience.

Toronto open air burning laws are fairly strict. Err on the side of caution and ensure you read all the regulations in your area. Generally, if your fire is small and safely contained and you are using it to cook food, you should be okay. Check online or with the local fire department beforehand.

Light Up The Space

Having a wonderfully bright backyard will make everyone feel cozy and warm. Save some of your Christmas lights to wrap around your porch, trees, and tables. Tiki torches provide both heat and light and look festive. Consider having one or two heat lamps in the areas where your guests will be spending the majority of their time. As always, safety first – ensure that all walkways and steps are visible to avoid falls and ensure all electrical components are protected from the weather.

Provide Easy-To-Eat Comfort Foods

If you are having a hot tub party or a BBQ, odds are that your seating will be fairly informal. Make it easy on your guests by serving food that is simple and easy to eat. Foods like stew, chili, and rice/pasta bowls are great because they can be served in bowls and are hearty and warm. The last thing you want is for your guests to have to balance a plate full of food on their knee as they try to eat with a fork and knife. If you decide on having a grill or fire pit for guests to huddle around, make it work double duty by having foods grilling throughout the night. Items like corn-on-the-cob, kebabs, potatoes, and eggplant are easy to grill (and eat!).

Serve Seasonal Drinks

It is going to be chilly! One of the best ways to warm up is by sipping on something hot. Set up a bar station with decorative mugs, napkins, straws and stir sticks and have carafes of hot cocoa, apple cider, tea, or coffee. Add to the fun by having cinnamon sticks, marshmallows or whipped cream for guests to top off their drinks.

For the guests that are looking to have something a little stronger – set up a bar cart with different liqueurs that pair well with hot beverages. For example, Baileys is delicious with hot cocoa or coffee, and Amaretto goes well with tea.

Ensure your guests stay warm and cozy and have an indoor back-up plan in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. Do not be afraid to get creative with entertainment ideas. Whether it is holiday-themed karaoke or a holiday film projected onto your fence – the possibilities really are endless. Happy entertaining!

Bring the Outdoors In – Tips on Styling Indoor Plants

POSTED ON December 1st  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-12-01

Gardening season may be over, but you can still use your green thumb indoors! Bring the outdoors in to instantly add life and interest to your space, decorate with plants using these 6 styling tips:

Look Past the Green

Kick up the colour with some blooming buds. Plants such as the African Violet, Hibiscus, Christmas Cactus, and Cape Primrose all offer colourful blooms. Balance out bold plants with muted and neutral pots – colourful pots can look too busy when matched with already-colourful plants.

Pick Plants that Purify the Air

Some plant types are better at cleaning the air than others. These plants are an excellent addition to a stuffy space or a room or office you spend a lot of time in. Adding a few leafy plants can help improve your air quality and make you breathe better in your space. English Ivy, Peace Lily, Lady Palm, Boston Fern and the Snake Plant are all plants that work extra hard cleaning the air.

Get Creative with Plant Holders

Think outside the pot when finding homes for your plants. Large Plants: Try colourful buckets, wicker baskets or wooden chests. Small Plants: Herbs, flowers, and shrubs look great in vintage tea tins, tea pots or decorative ceramic pots. Use a fishbowl, mason jar or glass vase as a terrarium for your succulents. Get creative – there are endless types of non-porous containers that would make a great planter!

Think Big

Tall leafy trees add life and interest to a space. Large plants can be a great statement piece in an otherwise bare corner or can be used to frame your couch, fireplace or television. Look for low-maintenance plants that will not lose their leaves easily. Make sure to keep plants out of high-traffic areas to minimize damage.

Play with Textures

Texture is often an overlooked element of design. Introducing texture with plants is simple with an endless variety of sleek leafy greens, prickly cacti or soft pastel blooms available. Mix and match textures and plant types to make a bold statement.

Make Use of Your Space

We all have those areas in our home that are trickier to style. Whether you have an empty corner, or an awkward shelf space to fill – plants can be an ideal decorative element. If you lack surface space in one room, hang a few planters by a window or bed. If your living room contains low tables and deep couches, use tall leafy plants to add height to the space. If you have a cramped space that could use a little livening-up – try your hand at creating a small succulent terrarium or plant tiny shrubs in a pot to create a mini-garden.

Whether you take a minimalist approach with one or two small pots, or go all out with a jungle-like foyer, plants can add calmness and elements of life to your space. If you would like any advice on decorating or styling your home in preparation to sell – give me a call at 416-921-1112, I would be happy to help.