Travel. There’s nothing like it. Even if you love your home and city, there is nothing quite like exploring a new place and its culture. Travel opens your eyes and mind to a new way of thinking, and presents you with life-long experiences you will never forget.
Here are 8 tips for the savvy traveler to keep in mind for your next getaway.
1. Fly Mid-Week
It is always cheaper to fly mid-week than on the weekends, as more people are flying at that time. Keep this in mind when you book your flights. If your schedule permits, you can save a lot. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are your best bets. Many weekend travelers extend their trips, so Thursdays, Fridays and Mondays are often busy too.
2. Pack Your Own Snacks
Airport and airplane food prices always have a high mark up. Pack your own trail mix, dried fruits and protein bars to ensure you are satisfied on your flight without paying an arm and a leg.
3. Get Upgraded Instantly
As soon as you arrive at your accommodation, whether it is a hotel, hostel or bed and breakfast, ask for an upgrade. If there is room, you might get lucky and score five-star accommodation for a three-star budget. Although it is not impossible, it is more difficult to get upgraded once you have settled into a room, so ask for the upgrade straight away.
4. Find Free WiFi
Not all accommodations are equipped with free WiFi. Instead of spending your travel funds on WiFi, find a coffee shop or library that allows you to connect for free. You will likely need to look up directions and recommendations on your trip, so finding a free place to connect is essential for a savvy traveler.
5. Travel Off Season
Different destinations have their own peak travel times. Do your research to find out when the high season is for where you are traveling to, and book in the off season. Prices will be lower and destinations less crowded. Do this with care though, as sometimes off season travel can be more difficult due to inclement weather or reduced transportation options.
6. Pack a Refillable Water Bottle
Travel requires a lot of exploring and walking around, so you will want a water bottle by your side. Instead of spending money buying expensive water bottles at tourist attractions, pack a refillable water bottle, fill it up at your accommodation and bring it with you day after day.
7. Dress for Ease
Dress prepared for security lineups to cut down on time in line. Do not wear lots of jewelry or accessories that will take time to remove at check points, and wear shoes that can easily slip on and off.
8. Summer Deals
If you are travelling in the summer, check to see if any college or university residences are open for accommodation. Staying at one of these residences can reduce costs and they are often located conveniently close to transportation hubs and city hot spots, making your trip a breeze.
Do you consider yourself a savvy traveler? Do you have any tips to add?
Strong Start to 2017
February 3, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,188 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS® System in January 2017. This result was up by 11.8 per cent compared to 4,640 sales reported in January 2016. Annual rates of sales growth were higher for condominium apartments than for low-rise home types.
January 2017 picked up where 2016 left off: sales were up on a year-over-year basis while the number of new listings was down by double-digit annual rates for most major home types.
“Home ownership continues to be a great investment and remains very important to the majority of GTA households. As we move through 2017, we expect the demand for ownership housing to remain strong, including demand from first-time buyers who, according to a recent Ipsos survey, could account for more than half of transactions this year. However, many of these would-be buyers will have problems finding a home that meets their needs in a market with very little inventory,” said Cerqua.
The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark price was up by 21.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January. Similarly, over the same period, the average selling price was up by 22.3 per cent to $770,745, with double-digit gains in the average prices for all major home types.
“The number of active listings on TREB’s MLS® System at the end of January was essentially half of what was reported as available at the same time last year. That statistic, on its own, tells us that there is a serious supply problem in the GTA – a problem that will continue to play itself out in 2017. The result will be very strong price growth for all home types again this year,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
1. Do Something Active Every Day.
Regular activity helps to regulate weight, prevent illness, sleep better and reduce stress.
For many, it can be hard to find the time to exercise. Remember that you do not necessarily need to join a gym or go to a class to get the activity you need. Find something you enjoy that helps you maintain strength, balance and flexibility. Make conscious choices to increase activity each day. You may decide to do a workout video at home, walk a neighbour’s dog or walk to the post office instead of drive. Even small changes to your regular routine can help: parking in a far-away parking spot, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or sitting on a fitness ball while you read are all good examples.
2. Be Conscious About What You Eat.
As we age, nutrition becomes very important in controlling weight and preventing illness. Heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis are all illnesses that can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise. Meeting our nutritional needs and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for overall health. Get into the habit of buying healthy foods, discovering new recipes and paying attention to the types of foods you eat.
3. Find Ways to Manage Stress.
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on mental and physical health and cause a variety of symptoms. Stress is a regular part of life but if it is not managed well, it can become a major problem. There are plenty of ways to de-stress including relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. Spending time with friends and making time for fun activities are also great ways to keep stress to a minimum.
4. Get Regular Check-Ups.
Stay up to date with immunizations and health screenings and visit your doctor and dentist regularly to ensure you are doing well. Regular check-ups are crucial as eyesight, tooth integrity and hearing tend to change as we age. Check-ups are vital to catch any problems early on.
5. Up Your Protein and Vitamin Intake.
Extensive research reveals that seniors are at a particularly high risk for low protein intake. Protein is crucial for maintaining muscle mass. Lean proteins can be found in meats, fish, and plant-based sources. Many seniors also have a vitamin D deficiency. Make a conscious effort to head outdoors or stay by a window whenever you can to increase vitamin D levels. Check with your healthcare specialist and ask if you should be taking any vitamins or supplements to improve your health.
Establishing healthy habits is important, but it can take time. Be patient with yourself and ask your loved ones for help and support when you need it. Taking even just one step to improving your health is better than taking none!
Toronto’s hot housing market is also affecting leases. With condo lease prices reaching new records and a shortage of available listings, the rental market is as competitive as ever:
2016 Was a big year for rentals in the GTA:
Last year’s fourth quarter saw lease costs rise 11.7%, compared to the same time in 2015. The ‘typical’ condo is 718-sq. ft. and averages $1,990 per month in the GTA.
In Toronto’s city core, condos are renting for an average of $2,134. The inner suburbs of Etobicoke are seeing prices at $1,857, while in the ‘905’ region around the city, average prices are $1,739.
The rental market is dramatically accelerating and tenants are feeling the effects. The average resale home price jumped 17.3 per cent in the GTA in 2016, and condo prices surged 15 per cent.
For the first time in several years, the market is tighter for condo apartments than it is for single-detached homes. There is a shortage of available suites for lease for a few main reasons:
The disparity between the cost of owning and renting has discouraged some tenants from becoming homeowners and those who are currently renting are likely to stay put to avoid paying higher rents elsewhere.
The price of condo apartments is increasing, and this is encouraging many condo owners to sell their units rather than rent. Condominiums are being snatched up by first-time home buyers who are currently priced out of the single-detached market.
When condominium leases are listed, they are going fast. The typical condo spends about 13 days listed on the rental market before finding a tenant. This is a whole week less from the previous year.
Other factors that are affecting the GTA rental market:
The international-student population has doubled in the past six years.
A rising number of Albertans moving to Ontario for work in 2016
An increase of new permanent residents moving into the region
What does the future hold?
Some analysts expect that many of the conditions that fueled the GTA’s hot housing market will subside in 2017, putting less pressure on rentals. Developers are taking note and many are planning to build rentals rather than condominiums – applications for the building of rental apartments have tripled from the same time last year. Major condo development will also ease tight market conditions, with many big projects expected to be completed in the next few years.
Are you interested in buying or selling, or do you simply learning more about the current market? Feel free to call me at 416.921.1112 and have all your questions answered.
Last year was a big for new types of technology for your home. Here are 7 amazing home innovations that truly make us believe that the future is here:
1. Appliances You Can Control Remotely
The newest home appliances are more technologically advanced than ever before. Appliances boast smart features that allow you to remotely control them via an app on your phone. New versions of slow cookers, coffee machines, and tea kettles are equipped to work with your home’s WiFi. You can schedule brew times, or have your kettle ready for you when you wake up. There are even smart ovens that allow you to control cook times and temperature via your phone with an app that lets you know how many calories you are consuming and how much your food weighs.
2. High-Tech Refrigerators
New refrigerators have touchscreen controls on their doors and built-in cameras. These smart fridges take photos of the inside of your fridge every time you close the door. With your phone, you have access to up to date photos while you grocery shop so you never forget what to buy. The new refrigerators not only have built-in cameras, but you can also scan the bar code of every item that goes into the fridge and receive a text when they are about to reach their “best before” date.
3. Ultra High-Definition Televisions
If you thought your television was already high definition, the new 4K TVs have four times the pixels. These TVs are becoming more affordable and more content providers are making their shows and movies available in 4K. If you are in the market for a new television, 4K could be the way to go!
4. Smart Plugs Allow You to Turn Things On and Off
Smart plugs, like iDevices, allow you to turn your plugged-in devices on and off. Using an app on your phone, you can control each smart plug individually. Say you are in bed and forgot to turn off the TV downstairs, or you left your house and realized you left your bedroom lamps on – you would be able to use your phone to turn the switches. These are also a great solution if you are away for a few days and want it to appear as though somebody is home. You can turn a couple of lamps on every few hours.
5. Voice-Activation Platforms
“Apple HomeKit”, “Works with Nest” and “Google Home” are just a few voice-activation platforms that allow you to control various devices in your home. Google Home, for example, allows you to use your voice to play music from multiple platforms, pick a show on Netflix to play on a particular TV, access your calendar, respond to questions about the weather or about anything else you would normally search on Google. These act as a central hub and allow you to control several connected devices and services.
6. Smart Laundry
LG has come out with a new LG Twin Wash System that lets you outfit a new or compatible LG washing machine with a mini washer just under the full-sized one. This is perfect for when you need to wash something separately or simply have a small load to do. If you are someone who puts the wash in and then forgets about their laundry, Samsung’s Smart Care line of washers and dryers allows you to monitor your laundry’s progress from anywhere. You can receive smartphone notifications when your laundry is finished and never forget another load again.
Do you have any of these devices in your home already? What new technologies are you looking forward to seeing?
If you are retiring this year, or are simply beginning to think about retirement – you may find that there is a lot more than just your finances to consider. A successful retirement is made up of several components, many of which are often overlooked. Here are 5 tips to ensure you are prepared for all aspects of your retirement this year:
1. Maintain financial comfort. It may feel like you need to have x amount of money, but in reality, financial comfort simply means being able to manage your life in a fulfilling way while using the financial resources you have. Have a clear understanding of what your financial resources will be and the demands on your money that will come from your desired lifestyle. If your resources and lifestyle are not aligned, measures should be taken to ensure you can live comfortably when it is time to retire.
2. Be mentally prepared. For many, finding a new routine can be tough after decades of working a 9-to-5 job. It is not only our finances that are affected when we stop working. According to one survey, a high number of new retirees worry about missing out on the social interaction they get with colleagues at work. New retirees are also concerned about adjusting to new routines and finding new ways to give meaning and purpose to their days. It is important to mentally prepare for all the changes that will come with retirement and develop a plan to ease into the lifestyle changes as smoothly as possible.
3. Focus on more than leisure. Take a good look at all aspects of retirement. What do you hope to accomplish in your retirement years? Many retirees are excited at the prospect of leisure time but leisure tends to lose its lustre when it changes from a diversion to the norm. Remedy this by engaging in various activities, planning trips, and getting involved in the community. A lack of stimulation can affect mental and emotional health and ultimately affect physical well being.
4. Plan to use your skills. Your workplace has given you an outlet to contribute your skills, experiences, and knowledge to society in some way. If you are like most people, this desire to contribute and work will not go away as soon as you retire. Many retirees will look for volunteer opportunities that allow them to experience the parts of their career they enjoyed the most. For example, if your favourite part of your job was training new hires, a part-time or occasional teaching or mentoring position might be just what you need. Plus, research shows that the happiest people are those that help others.
5. Have a discovery phase. What kind of lifestyle do you want to live? Give yourself the time to try new things and do not commit before you know it is right for you. If you hope to live abroad, test the waters by vacationing in your desired location for a few months first to see if it suits you. If you want to live in a retirement community, ask to try a short-term rental before signing any contracts. Even if for years you pictured your retirement a certain way, you may find that you actually want something completely different, and that is okay.
If part of your retirement plan includes moving out of your home, or investing in a property, feel free to give me a call at 416. 921. 1112, and I would be more than happy to help.
You know the feeling you get when you walk into a luxurious, crisp and clean hotel room, walking across the plush carpet and plopping onto the huge uber-soft bed? Staying in a luxury hotel is always a decadent treat. Why not let the vacation last by treating yourself at home with your very own luxurious 5-star worthy bedroom?
Here are a five ways to bring in the Ritz without blowing your budget:
1. A Bed Fit For a King (or Queen!) What makes a bed look and feel luxurious? Think about the last time you went to an upscale hotel – what was the bed like? It probably had crisp white linens, plush pillows and an amazing mattress. Want your bedroom to feel like a luxe hotel room? Opt for a king bed with a bit of height to it. If you only do one thing to upgrade your bed – invest in high thread count linens. The look and feel of Egyptian cotton will have you feeling like royalty.
2. Hotel-Like Décor. Hotels need to cater to a wide range of tastes and usually boast neutral and uncluttered décor. Keep things elegant and simple, hang only a few key décor pieces on walls and keep any surfaces open and tidy. Hardwood floors are beautiful but if you want the hotel feel, opt for a plush carpet or at least a decadent accent rug. Skip the table lamps and install lighting on either side of the bed – elegant sconces can add the perfect detail. For an extra touch, create a modern bed and breakfast look by installing curtain rods onto the ceiling around the bed and drape rich soft fabric for your own private oasis.
3. Comfortable Furniture. Hotel furniture is usually big and the seating is super comfortable. Keep with the luxury theme by having an oversized sofa, ottoman or chaise lounge. Drape your sofa with a plush throw and matching cushions. Keep colours neutral and play with textures and subtle patterns for an elegant look. Any other furniture in the room should serve a purpose and go with the vacation and relaxation theme.
4. Extra-Special Touches. You know those little surprises you often find in hotel rooms? Like a mint, or a chocolate on the pillow? Or perhaps a bottle of champagne on the dresser? It might not make sense for you to do this for yourself, but it is a nice touch if you are setting up a bedroom for a guest. Even the smallest surprises can make your guests feel extra special. If your hotel-like haven is just for you, treat yourself with fragrant fresh-cut flowers or a white terry cloth robe with matching slippers.
5. Clean and Uncluttered. When you walk into a hotel room, the first thing you usually notice is how clean everything is. If you want your room to feel like a hotel room, then be prepared to keep everything pristine. This means no dust, dirt, or clutter. When there are less décor pieces and personal items out in the open, your room will look larger and cleaner. Use candles, incense and fabric sprays to keep the room smelling clean and fresh. Remember to clean the space before you leave for the day so when you come home from a long day at work you can truly feel like you are ready to relax in your hotel-like oasis.
Everyone’s tastes are different – think about what you like about luxury hotels and incorporate these elements into your own space to create the perfect oasis for you.
Done Deals: Opening Bid Shuts Down Competition
26 McNairn Avenue, Toronto
ASKING PRICE: $1,388,000
SELLING PRICE: $1,630,000
PREVIOUS SELLING PRICE: $998,000 (2013); $845,000 (2009); $512,000 (2003); $467,000 (2001); $356,000 (1996)
TAXES: $6,632 (2016)
DAYS ON THE MARKET: One
LISTING AGENTS: Elli Davis and Shawn Venasse, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
The Action: Around Yonge Lawrence Village late last year, house hunters often encountered bidding wars over residential real estate as soon as anything surfaced. Before that could happen at this detached house on a 25-by-121-foot lot, one of the first 10 visitors devised a strong pre-emptive offer to make it theirs within 24 hours.
What They Got: Much like the classic brick façade of this two-storey residence built in the 1930s, the interior preserves traditional elements, such as a fireplace in the living room and wainscoting around the dining area.
Contemporary additions include tile floors, marble counters and stainless-steel appliances in the galley kitchen, which opens to a family room with a skylight and walkout to a deck, patio and fenced-in backyard.
The basement is completely open with a recreation area, while the top floor is divided for three bedrooms, including one with a tandem sitting room and a master with a walk-in closet and semi-ensuite, which is the largest of two bathrooms.
The Agent’s Take: “It retained the old charm, but had nice new details,” agent Elli Davis says. “It had a large family room addition at the rear of the house, which really was the selling point of the house.”
Although this home has a garage for a vehicle, it’s also a short stroll to amenities on foot. “It’s in a great location north of Lawrence, south of York Mills, you can walk to the York Mills subway and Yonge Street shops,” Ms. Davis notes.
2016 was an exceptional year for Canada’s housing market – with unprecedented price increases and more demand than available supply in many markets. Canada saw changes like never before. Many Canadians are wondering how long the market can remain red hot, and if we are indeed in a housing bubble like the United States saw ten years ago.
Is Canada in a Housing Bubble? Whether or not Canada is actually in a housing bubble is up for debate. Bubbles burst and many experts predict that nothing as dramatic will happen in Canada, as it had in the U.S. In order for a market crash to occur (or a bubble to burst), there would need to be a sudden drop in demand. This could potentially happen if there was a quick rise in interest rates or a significant tightening of credit standards. Although it is always a possibility, experts suggest that nothing so dramatic will happen.
Will We See a Housing Crash? Prices may plateau or decline slightly, but a U.S. style crash is not expected. The U.S. housing bubble involved widespread use of complex products such as collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. Here in Canada, this is not so prevalent. If we are indeed in a housing bubble, it is caused by low interest rates, an abundance of bank lending and foreign investment playing a role in certain vicinities, such as Vancouver.
What Should We Expect for 2017? Demand is still high, while supply remains limited in the hot markets. The changes in mortgage regulations and the slight increase in mortgage rates have pushed enough buyers out of the market that some decline is expected. Experts believe that home prices across Canada will still rise 2.8 per cent, with markets varying greatly across the country. Vancouver and the GTA are on divergent paths this year. There is a price correction underway in Vancouver, while Toronto prices continue to climb. It should be noted that Toronto area homes are still significantly less expensive than homes on the west coast.
Will Home Sales Decline? From January to October of last year, almost 100,000 homes changed hands in the GTA. The Royal Bank of Canada predicts that home sales will drop 3.3 per cent across Canada this year, with a 12.2 per cent drop expected in British Columbia and a 2.7 per cent drop expected across Ontario. An increase in sales is predicted in Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick. RBC predicts that despite an expected decline in sales activity for 2017, most of Ontario’s housing markets will not experience price declines. This is particularly true for homes located in the GTA, primarily due to lack of supply. As a result, anyone looking to sell in the GTA in the next year or so can rest easy knowing they will get a fair price for their homes.
Are you interested to find out if now is the right time for you to sell? Want some advice on how to get the most value for your home? Feel free to call me at 416.921.1112 and I would be happy to help.
Many of us are ringing in the new year with home renovations and decor updates. With updated kitchens being one of the most sought-after home features, it is no wonder that kitchen trends are on the top of the list. Here are a couple of the big kitchen colour and design trends for 2017:
Unexpected Pops of Colour
Kitchens are notorious for clean lines and neutral colours, but 2017 finds us kicking things up a notch with pops of colour in unexpected forms. Colour can be introduced through bold lighting fixtures, retro-style appliances, cabinets, or simply decorative counter pieces. Bold elements can bring your dated kitchen into the 21st century. Remember to not overdo it – less is still more, so make sure to choose accents wisely.
Work with the White
With bold patterns and colours taking over many modern spaces, the classic white kitchen may seem like a thing of the past. Surprisingly, white kitchens are still very popular and it does not look like that will change anytime soon. If your traditional sensibilities have you wanting a crisp, clean look, you can include texture, instead of colour, to add interest. Play with materials and finishes, mixing natural elements with modern designs and contrasting soft materials with sleek finishes. For example, white birch cabinets paired with subdued marble counters and a textured backsplash can make your neutral kitchen far from ordinary.
Subtle and Elegant: Two-Toned Kitchens
Two-toned kitchens have been a popular choice for some time, but now the trend is turning to more subtle pairings. Similar to the all-white kitchens, two-toned kitchens keep the focus on design, clean-lines and a minimalist approach. Many designer kitchens are showcasing almost indistinguishable colour differences while still offering a chromatic difference that is pleasing to the eye. The key to a beautiful two-toned kitchen is finding a colour pairing that accentuates the elements of the space and helps create depth and contrast. If you are not sure which colours to pair, stay on the safe side with two similar shades of gray.
Keep it Clean
Less is still more. The beauty of a sleek and elegant kitchen is in the uncluttered surfaces and clean lines. Keep things off counters and allow the eyes to easily go from one side of the kitchen, to the other, without interruption. Include elements with different heights, textures and finishes for a pleasing look.
Add a Few Vintage Elements
Blend the old with the new by incorporating vintage elements like an antique pantry, vintage bread box or retro-style fridge. Contrast can add interest to the kitchen, but make sure there is balance in the space. If you have more than one or two vintage elements, pair them with sleek finishes and stainless steel to keep the modern appeal.