There is nothing more satisfying than harvesting delicious ingredients from your own garden – knowing that you are using fresh and organic herbs and vegetables that you tended to yourself!
Whether you are a seasoned gardener, or a complete beginner, a bit of research and preparation can have you growing your own backyard vegetables and herbs in no time. The weather is warming up and the last spring frost will be behind us before we know it. Start planning your garden now with these 5 Staple Edible Garden Starters:
1. Carrots. A staple in the kitchen, carrots are easy to grow. They like sandy soil and are resistant to most pests and diseases. Plant carrots 3 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date and make sure soil is free of stones. Gently mulch to retain moisture and ensure soil is well drained. When plants are an inch tall, thin them so they stand 3 inches apart. Carrots like to be planted near beans, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, radishes or tomatoes – chives improve their growth and flavour.
2. Mint. One of the easiest herbs to grow, mint is great for summer drinks, desserts, teas, garden accents, ground covers, air fresheners and herbal medicines. The plant thrives in light soil with good drainage. Make sure to keep mint in a contained environment as it is a rapid spreader and can cover a lot of ground. Mint can grow up to 4 feet in just 1 year so make sure to prune and pick as the season goes on. Planting mint near peas, cabbage, and tomatoes improves its health and flavour.
3. Basil. Great for salads, pesto, pizza, and sauces, basil is a leafy, fragrant annual with several varieties available. The most common type is sweet basil with other types including purple basil, lemon basil and Thai basil. Basil should be planted in early spring, after the last spring frost. Plant seeds/seedlings 1/4-inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart. To ensure growth throughout the summer, soil should be moist and the leaves should be picked regularly. Pinch out any flower heads as soon as they appear. Basil likes to be planted near tomatoes and sweet peppers.
4. Tomatoes. One of the favourites amongst garden vegetables, this vine plant is easy to grow and is quite versatile. Tomatoes like full sun and well-drained soil. If you are planting seeds, start the seeds indoors and transplant after the last spring frost when the soil is warm. Tomatoes are prone to a range of pests and diseases so plants should be watched carefully. Planting near basil helps repel aphids, whiteflies, hornworms, and mosquitoes.
5. Cucumbers. Cucumber plants have the ability to climb so they are great for tight spaces and tend to grow fast. Cucumbers are susceptible to frost damage – make sure you do not plant them outside too soon. Select a site with full sun and sow seeds in rows, 1 inch deep and 6 – 10 inches apart. Set up a trellis if you want the vine to climb, or if you have limited space. Plant cucumbers near corn, lettuce, onions, peas or radishes for optimal growth and flavour.
What edible plants will you be planting this season? If you are looking for other options to include in your garden this spring, check out this list of 111 Herbs, Vegetables, Edible Flowers and Fruit. Happy Planting!
Tight Market Conditions Continue in March
April 5, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 12,077 residential sales through TREB’s MLS® System in March 2017. This result represented a 17.7 per cent increase compared to the 10,260 sales reported in March 2016. For the TREB market area as a whole, annual sales growth was strongest for condominium apartments and detached houses.
The number of new listings also increased on a year-over-year basis, at 17,051 – a 15.2 per cent increase compared to March 2016. The strongest growth in new listings was experienced in the detached market segment. While new listings were up strongly compared to last year, the rate new listings growth was still lower than the rate of sales growth. As a result, GTA market conditions continued to tighten.
“It has been encouraging to see that policymakers have not implemented any knee-jerk policies regarding the GTA housing market. Different levels of government are holding consultations with market stakeholders and TREB has participated and will continue to participate in these discussions. Policy makers must remember that it is the interplay between the demand for and supply of listings that influences price growth,” said Mr. Cerqua.
Strong competition between buyers continued to cause high levels of price growth in all major market segments. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark Price was up by 28.6 per cent year-over-year. For the TREB market area as a whole, the average selling price was up by 33.2 per cent, with similar annual rates of growth in the low-rise and condominium apartment segments.
“Annual rates of price growth continued to accelerate in March as growth in sales outstripped growth in listings. A substantial period of months in which listings growth is greater than sales growth will be required to bring the GTA housing market back into balance. As policy makers seek to achieve this balance, it is important that an evidence-based approach is followed,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
Done Deals: Open House Valuable Marketing Tool for German Mills Home
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 06, 2017
83 SIMONSTON BLVD., THORNHILL, Ont.
ASKING PRICE: $1,685,000
SELLING PRICE: $1,641,000
PREVIOUS SELLING PRICE: $379,000 (October, 1998); $357,500 (February, 1998)
TAXES: $5,589 (2016)
DAYS ON THE MARKET: 18
LISTING AND CO-OP AGENT: Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
The Action: For over two weeks late last year, this four-bedroom home with an attached double garage hosted 19 private showings and a public open house. “A lot of people think open houses are a waste of time, but I decided to do it that weekend and strangely enough, [the buyers] came in, loved it and came back,” agent Elli Davis says.
What They Got: Various updates to this roughly 35-year-old residence keep it looking contemporary, yet classic. For instance, hardwood floors and mouldings grace an open dining space, entertaining area with a gas fireplace and rear family room with a walkout to the patio and garden beds lining the 60-by 138-foot lot.
For more casual activities, there is a lower level gym and recreation area with another fireplace, plus a guest room.
Cooking and cleaning is convenient with four bathrooms, including one in the master upstairs, and an updated kitchen with an island, marble floors and stone counters.
The Agent’s Take: “The appeal was the school district and Bayview country club, and it’s close to the Don Valley Parkway and 407 [highway],” Ms. Davis notes.
Whether a project is large or small, hiring a company that does quality work is always important. Take the time to research and compare different businesses to ensure you are getting the best service for a competitive price. Looking at more than one business will give you a good idea of what services are available and how much you can expect to spend. Here are a few ways to help determine if a company is a good choice:
1. Find Out How Long They Have Been In Business. If a company is still going strong after decades, odds are it is because they deliver quality work and people are generally happy with their services. Companies that deliver shoddy workmanship do not tend to stay around for too long. This is not to say that you should not consider a newer company – new companies can be great! When considering a newer company, ask specific questions to determine their level of expertise and experience.
2. Ask for Estimates. Explain the details of the job you want done and ask for a verbal or written estimate outlining the price and time it will take to complete the work. Ask about minimum prices, and what can potentially happen to result in a higher final cost. Inquire about insurance and ask about professional affiliations or accreditations. Determine how payments are accepted and remember to read all contracts carefully. Aim to get estimates from at least three different companies to ensure you are getting a competitive rate.
3. Get References. Word of mouth from family, friends, colleagues or neighbours is one of the best ways to find a good company that will deliver great results. Ask for recommendations and advice – you might get to hear a few cautionary tales as well. If you cannot get any personal recommendations, look online for reviews, ratings and comments.
4. Make Sure They Are Fully Licensed. Whether you are looking for a plumber, electrician or exterminator, ensure they are fully licensed for the job. Companies and their employees should be fully insured and have all the necessary credentials. No one wants to tear everything apart and pay twice because something was not done correctly the first time.
Different jobs will require you to ask different questions and compare different types of information. Below are some examples of questions you can ask the following three professionals:
Find out if they specialize in repair work or remodeling. You may get better rates if their expertise matches the job you need handled. Ask if they charge for travel time – their hourly rate may or may not include driving to and from your property. Inquire about the supplies the plumber needs, and whether they have them in stock. You do not want to get stuck paying for multiple supply-gathering trips.
Determine if you will need to leave the house. If you do need to vacate, ask how long you will have to be away for. Find out if there are risks to people or pets and determine how long it will take for the critters to be gone. Total eradication could take more than one visit. Find out if there are any guarantees – many firms offer a one month, or even three–month guarantee.
Find out if they need a permit to do the work. Permits are usually required on larger jobs and often stipulate that the wiring be inspected by the city. Ascertain who will be filing the permit and what it will add to the cost.
Hiring the right professionals can take time, but it is worth ensuring you get the job done right – the first time! If you are in search of a local business to help you out, feel free to have a look at my Recommended Professionals Page.
Winter is finally over, and the warm weather is on its way! If you have home-maintenance projects planned, consider tackling these ones during the spring months:
1. Outdoor Maintenance. After the snow melts, our outdoor spaces can often use a little TLC. Take the time to clear debris and remove any dead branches from the yard. Check if fences, walkways, and outdoor fixtures need maintenance or repairs. Clean the gutters, pressure wash the deck, and get started on gardening projects. The earlier these get taken care of, the more time you will have to enjoy your beautiful outdoor space.
2. Windows. Due to the cold, we often neglect washing and inspecting windows during the winter months. As soon as it is warm enough, check windows and give them a thorough clean. It is a good idea to check caulking and weather-stripping every few months – leakage around windows can create a draught. If it looks like you need window replacements, consider doing before the summer. The right window selection could save you up to $500 per year in heating and cooling costs.
3. Exterior Paint. If painting is on your to-do list – now is a great time to do it. Warmer weather will allow paint to dry properly and you will not have to worry about working in the sweltering heat. If the paint is in good condition – but is looking a little drab – pressure washing your home’s exterior could make it look as good as new!
4. Roofing. Emergencies happen and sometimes roof-work cannot wait, but if you are able to plan ahead, spring is a good time to schedule roof repairs and maintenance. It is warm and dry enough to work safely without having to battle the heat of the summer.
5. Decks, Patios, and Outdoor Rooms. Once the weather warms up and the ground thaws, our outdoor projects are ready to be tackled. Decks require hand-digging and the ground is usually softer in the spring. No matter what your vision is for your outdoor space, starting in spring will give you the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour in the warmer months.
6. Spring Cleaning. Spring is a great time to clean all the areas of the house that have been neglected during the cold winter months. Consider cleaning windows, laundering drapes, washing carpets, dusting ceiling fans, etc. You can check out my spring cleaning post for more ideas.
If you have spring projects planned and are hoping to sell your home, give me a call at 416.921.1112 and I would be happy to share advice and answer any questions you may have.
Moving can be stressful – especially if you are relocating to a new neighbourhood or city. Even when the move represents a positive change, it can take time to get established and feel comfortable in a new environment.
Here are six tips to help you feel at home in your new place, before you even move:
1. Research the New Locale. Moving to a new area can feel stressful – you are entering something relatively unknown. You might be wondering how you will be able to adapt, or if you will like the neighbourhood, or where you will be able to get your morning cup of coffee. One of the best ways to put your mind at ease before the moving process is to do as much research as possible. Go online and research the nearest parks, grocery stores, cafes, etc., look up the best gym, what community groups are in the area, and even read up on the history of the town. Getting familiar before you move will help you ease into your new environment.
2. Think Positive! A move signifies a big change; and with change we often experience mixed emotions. We might feel stressed about whether we are making the right decision, or feel overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead – perhaps we feel a bit of regret because we miss something about our old home. Moving is also a very positive thing – it represents new beginnings and excitement – a fresh start. Keeping this in mind will help you overcome any negative feelings you may experience.
3. Get a Helping Hand. Moving is a lot of work, and there is no getting around it. Having family and friends there to help you through the process will lessen your load and help relieve some stress. Make sure to call on friends and family after you move too, a new place can feel lonely and having visitors makes the transition a bit easier.
4. Make Connections. It is common to feel like an outsider in a new a place. Make as many connections as you can – as soon as you can. You may even have an opportunity to meet people before you actually move. You can find your new doctor or dentist, pick out a new cycling club, take a photography workshop, or join a volunteer group. By getting involved, you will familiarize yourself with the landscape and people of the town.
5. Make it Your Home. You may have lived in your previous home for decades, so a new home can feel like foreign territory. Once you are settled in, make the effort to hang up your favourite photos and artwork. Personalized touches will make your home feel like it is yours right away.
6. Establish a Routine. To help you feel settled in a new place, start a comforting routine to familiarize yourself with the area. You can choose a trail to walk the dog every morning, pick a coffee shop to stop at before work, or even begin a new gym routine to help structure your day and serve as a way to meet new friends.
Are you looking to move? Do you have any questions, or would you like some advice about moving? Feel free to call me at 416.921.1112 – I would be happy to help!
When we are looking for our dream home, we are not just looking for a well-appointed kitchen, beautiful flooring, or a spacious living room – we are also looking at the bigger picture, and a great neighbourhood is just as important as a great house.
Finding the perfect neighbourhood will ensure you enjoy living in your new space – consider these tips:
Know What You Want – The first step to finding the perfect neighbourhood is knowing exactly what perfect means to you. Identify your priorities and ‘must-haves’. Make a list of what you want and decide which points you are unwilling to compromise on. Be aware of what you do not want and what your current area lacks. Consider things like schools, accessible transit, local businesses and even specific things like where you want to be walking your dog in the mornings or where you will be buying your morning cup of coffee.
Be Informed – Once you have a good idea of what you want – do some research. The easiest way to get pertinent neighbourhood information is by speaking with an experienced Realtor®. You can also do your own research by looking on Google Maps and looking up schools, amenities, local businesses, etc. Property values in a particular neighbourhood will also be a good indicator of how prominent the area is.
Visit the Neighbourhood – A neighbourhood might look good ‘on paper’ but you will not really know if you like it until you see it for yourself. After speaking with your Realtor® and collecting all the information you need, narrow down your favourite options and spend a few days touring the areas.
Take a Good Look Around – When you tour the area, what do you see? Are there people walking around outside? Are the homes well taken care of? Are there flourishing businesses and well-maintained public spaces? Visually survey the area and look for any signs of disrepair. First impressions are important – you should feel good about the neighbourhood as soon as you get there.
Listen – While you walk around, stop from time to time to just close your eyes and listen. Do you hear loud traffic? Airplanes flying overhead? A train passing? It is easy to get caught up in all the sights of a neighbourhood and not really notice all the ambient noise that surrounds it. Pay close attention to any noise pollution that is apparent in the area.
Visualize Yourself There – Can you picture yourself living in the area? Visualize your daily routine in each neighbourhood – what will your drive to work look like? Where will you walk your dog in the mornings? How far will you be traveling for your morning cup of coffee? Where will your kids be waiting for the school bus, or how far will they be walking to school? Think about all aspects of your routine. Does everything just seem easier in a particular neighbourhood?
Visit Often – In order to get the complete picture, visit neighbourhoods at different times of the day and make sure to scope out the area on a weekday as well. A neighbourhood might seem serene at 2pm on a Saturday, but a Monday morning visit might reveal heavy traffic and commotion. Drive through the area at night – do you feel safe? Ensure that you feel good about the neighbourhood at all times of the day.
Done Deals: Rosedale Condo Appeals to Luxury-Loving Downsizers
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.
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?
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.
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.