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Keeping your Home Safe During Your Holiday Trip

POSTED ON November 29th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-29

Are you planning a trip this upcoming holiday season? Holidays are a time for relaxation and spending quality time with loved ones, the last thing you want to be worrying about is the safety of your home.

Here are 4 ways to secure your home before you leave on your next vacation:

Get Someone to Check In

Do you have a close neighbour or friend that could keep an eye on your home while you are away?

One of the best ways to ensure your home is protected is to have someone check in periodically. Remember to ask them to collect your mail and newspapers. Newspapers piled up outside your door are a sign of absence. Anyone who walks or drives by can see that no one is home. Remember to let your closest neighbours know that you will be away.

If you are leaving for an extended period of time, leave a key with a trustworthy neighbour and ask them to water any plants, and ensure nothing has happened inside your home. It may be a good idea to leave them a key to your car in case it has to be moved.

Keep Your Trip Private

Many of us like to share our whereabouts on social media. This is okay, but if you are planning a trip do not publicly share your plans. Any details you provide can potentially get in the wrong hands. A better idea is to privately let friends and family know that you will be going away. Wait until you return from your trip to post any vacation photos. A picture of you on a beach with a piña colada in your hand will be a dead giveaway that you are not home. Also be conscious of your voicemail/answering machine message – do not update your message saying you are on vacation because you do not know who could be calling.

Leave Things Unchanged

There is often debate about whether you should close all your blinds and curtains or keep them open. A good idea is to leave things as you normally would to not cause any suspicion. If you decide to keep your curtains slightly open, it might be best to move any precious or expensive items out of sight. There is no need to cause temptation by having a brand new TV on display in front of an exposed window all month. If you normally keep your car in the driveway – leave it there.

If you are leaving for an extended period of time, consider scheduling landscaping services. A few days of heavy snowfall could mean that your entire driveway (and car) are completely covered in snow – a definite sign that no one is there.

Turn Lights Off

It might be tempting to leave your lights on – making it seem like someone is home, but having lights on all night and day might do more harm than good. Not only will your electricity bill be through the roof, but you will actually attract attention to your home. It is not normal for house lights to be on the entire night. Instead, you can purchase a light switch timer that turn your lights on and off automatically according to a schedule you program. Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice the changing lights and assume someone is home.

Remember to unplug electrical devices and test your alarms and other security features before you leave. Put your mind at ease and plan ahead so you can enjoy a stress-free vacation.

Downsizing: 5 Types of Belongings you should be Sorting through Carefully

POSTED ON November 24th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-24

Downsizing can be a complicated process and sometimes you just do not know what to keep or throw away. Certain items are harder to get rid of than others. Here are 5 types of important items and how to sort through them properly:

1. HEIRLOOMSOver the years, you may have accumulated quite a few family heirlooms. Although they are all special to you, some will be more important than others. Go through your heirlooms and consider which ones are truly meaningful to you and your family. Keep only the ones that have the most personal value to you. Perhaps there is another family member that would appreciate receiving something with family history?

2. ELECTRONICSIn this day and age, electronics become obsolete quite quickly. If you have a computer that you have had for seven or more years it is most likely not going to work as well as it once did. Go through your DVD players, VHS players, TVs, cell phones, sound systems, and personal music devices and be honest about what you actually use (or have at least used in the past year). You will most likely be able to find a lot of items to get rid of as we tend to accumulate a lot of electronics over the years!

Remember: Do not get rid of any cellphones or computers until you have completely wiped out all your personal information. Even if there is something you are throwing out, (rather than donating), someone might still be interested and pick it up off the curb. Phones and computers contain sensitive information that may put you at risk if they get into the wrong hands.

3. PHOTOGRAPHSBe honest, you probably have too many photos in your house. Photographs are special and they serve as a reminder of loved ones and good times shared, but not all photographs need to be kept during a move. This is a good opportunity to go through your photos and toss away any less-than-perfect images or pictures that you do not know why you even kept in the first place. Remember, we used to print everything so many times we had more than one of the same photo and even the unusable photos were printed. Scale down to only the images that have special meaning. If you want to go a step further and get rid of clutter, there are photo scanning services available that can put all your images on USB sticks or memory cards. This way you can set up a few digital photo frames around the house and have slide shows of all your favourite images.

4. IMPORTANT PAPERS – It is a good idea to get rid of as much paper as possible (it creates a lot of clutter), but be diligent in your organizing. Make sure that you keep all of your important documentation. Anything to do with your finances, personal identification, certificates, licenses, etc., should be kept and stored in a safe and secure place. Any important papers can all be kept in one folder or binder for easy access. Do not worry, you most likely have plenty of unimportant papers that are destined for the recycling bin!

5. COLLECTIONS – If you are like many people, you probably have quite a few collections that you have accumulated over the years. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to bring your entire collection of model cars or vintage dolls to your new place. This does not mean that you should get rid of your collection completely, but rather scale down and just keep the best of the best. You can sell the rest of your collection online and reward yourself by buying a nice display case to show off your most prized possessions

Certain things will be easier to sort through than others and it may be a good idea to get a friend or family member to help you out. If you have any questions about downsizing now, or are hoping to downsize in the future, feel free to give me a call at 416-921-1112 – I would be happy to help.

Surprising Décor Trends That are Making a Comeback

POSTED ON November 22nd  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-22

Just like with fashion, home décor trends are cyclical – everything that is old can become new again. Here are six décor trends that have made a huge comeback in 2016 – and no, mirrored walls and popcorn ceilings are in style…yet.

1. Brass – Making a comeback from its 1980’s glory days; brass is popular once again. This time around, it is less sleek and shiny and more streamlined and antique looking. It is overtaking chrome and appearing in rooms throughout the home. Brass frames, fixtures, and candle holders are great accents that can accompany rich and deep tones.

2. Mid-Century Designs – This specific style with clean lines, starburst designs, and wooden accents is popular once again. The vintage look is inand the best part is that you can still buy original décor pieces at an affordable price. Secondhand stores, flea markets, and antique shops are great places to look for vintage décor and furniture.

3. Pastels – When most people think about pastels and home décor, they are reminded of the 1980s and pastel overload. Pastels have been revamped and modernized – the hues are not just for children’s bedrooms anymore. Pastels mixed with bold accents and brighter shades can create a perfect balance in any room.

4. Wallpaper – Until recently, the idea of wallpaper was very outdated. In fact, one of the first things you would do when you bought an older home was rip off the wallpaper. Wallpaper is now available in many different patterns, materials, textures, and colours. It can instantly turn a boring wall into a statement wall, the options truly are endless.

5. Indoor Plants – No longer a thing of the past, indoor plants are gaining popularity in just about every space. From larger trees and vines in the living room, to succulents in the bathroom, to herbs and hanging plants in the kitchen. Plants can add extra interest and colour and they actually help to produce oxygen in otherwise stuffy spaces. Make plants even more decorative by planting them in ornate pots.

6. Colourful Cabinets – No more white kitchens – colourful cabinets are making their way back into our kitchens. In the 1950s and 1960s, you could find cabinets of every colour imaginable. For a long time after, wooden and white cabinets reigned supreme. Now, slowly but surely, colour is creeping back into the kitchen in the form of muted and matte colors such as navy, yellow and deep red. Say goodbye to scrubbing unsightly stains off white surfaces!

Which home décor trends would you like to try? If you have any questions about decorating or buying and selling your home, give me a call at 416-921-1112 and I would be happy to help you out.

How Do You Decide if a Home is Right for You?

POSTED ON November 17th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-17

Searching for a home can be both thrilling and nerve-racking, and the endless possibilities can feel exciting – but will you recognize the perfect home when you see it? Here are a few factors to consider to ensure you find a home that is right for you:

Trust Your Intuition. First impressions are important. Often, we formulate opinions within seconds of walking into a house. Experts say that you should buy a house for the way you are living today – and adapt as you go. Certain things, though, such as if you are planning on starting a family in the next year or two, should be taken into consideration. A bachelor-sized condo just might not cut it for a young family.

Consider How You Live. Will you be out of the house for 80 per cent of the time, or will you be a homebody? If you are buying a home mainly for its beautiful views but will not be home in the daytime to enjoy it, then maybe it is not a feature you should be focusing on. Pay attention to the high-traffic spaces of the home that you will be spending most of your time in. Find a kitchen that meets your needs, and ensure that the bedrooms are adequate. You might fall in love with a beautiful marble kitchen – but if you rarely cook then something smaller and more practical might be better suited.

It Is Not All About Square Footage. One of the first things many people look at in a home is its square footage. Although this is important, it should not be the only determining factor. In some instances a 2,000 sq. ft. home might have more usable space than a 2.700 sq. ft. home, depending on the layout. Walk through the home and decide if it feels spacious to you and think about your own furniture and how it would fit in the space.

Neighbourhoods Matter. The decision is not just about the property, you have to consider the neighbourhood too. The type of neighbourhood you choose will play a role in how happy you are in your home. Think about what kind of lifestyle you want and the types of amenities you need.

How Much Work are You Willing to Put In? Be honest with yourself. A fixer-upper might be tempting, but if you do not have the time or energy to work on your property then it might be more of a headache than anything else. Are you willing to do yard work, or pay someone to do it? Does the idea of a no-hassle condominium sound attractive to you? Think about the amount of time you will be willing to spend on a daily/weekly basis to maintain your home and choose accordingly.

Remember that no home will be absolutely perfect. There will always be something that could either be changed, updated, or that just is not to your taste. It is important to understand that although sacrifices need to be made at times, you should not sacrifice on the fundamentals. Think about what you really want from your new home and ensure that you do not settle until you find it.

I love helping people find their dream homes. Whether you know exactly what you are looking for, or simply have some questions, I would be happy to help you along the way. Just give me a call at 416-921-1112 – and I can get you started.

Stay Warm and Active

POSTED ON November 15th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-15

The days are becoming shorter and the weather is getting colder. It can be hard to find the motivation to be as active as we may have been in the summer sun. Here are a few reminders on how to stay active, safe and warm this winter!

Keep Active

Inactivity can lead to reduced muscle mass and an increased risk of falling. Physical activity is a fundamental component of good health, but winter weather including freezing temperatures/icy conditions can cause even the heartiest people to want to stay in and hibernate. It is important to stay motivated and include physical activity in daily routines – even in the harshest of weather. Consider what you like to do during the warmer months, can these activities be tweaked for the winter?

Walking is excellent exercise – when sidewalks are too icy, malls are a great alternative. Many malls open their doors early and walkers can take advantage of the unobstructed space. There are plenty of walking groups which can provide a nice social outing as well.

Swimming can be a great way to stay active while taking it easy on your joints. Many buildings and neighbourhoods have indoor pools available. Local gyms and community centres often offer senior’s aqua fit classes or free-swim hours as well. Make sure to swim with a buddy if no lifeguard is on duty.

Exercise Classes are not all necessarily intense. There are many types of classes such as chair yoga, gentle toning and low-impact aerobics that might be suitable. If the weather is really bad and you are forced to stay indoors, consider popping in a workout DVD or following a video online. You can often borrow DVDs free of charge from your local library.

Keep Things Warm and Bright

Getting enough light is important for mental well-being. If you are unable to go outside and enjoy the sunlight, make sure your home is as bright as possible. Invest in good lighting and keep curtains open during the day. With less hours of daylight it is important to soak up as much sun as you can. Also, keep your home at a cozy temperature. Too cold and you will want to retreat under blankets, too hot and you can be left feeling sluggish.

Keep Safe and Healthy

Take good care outdoors. Wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles. Icy and snowy walkways make it easy to slip and fall. Dress for warmth. Did you know that mild hypothermia can ensue in temperatures as high as 15 degrees Celsius? Seniors are extra susceptible to hypothermia. Your body temperature should never dip below 35 degrees Celsius. Because it can be difficult to get around, many seniors have less contact with others during the colder months. This can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. To help avoid this, plan to meet with family members and friends on a regular basis. Even short daily phone calls can make a big difference. Stay social, make plans, and continue to do the things that make you happy.

Home Staging 101

POSTED ON November 10th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-10

Are you looking to sell your home this winter? Get your home sold fast and for the price you want – set the stage for success with these 6 Staging Tips.

Clean, Clean and Clean

This may seem obvious but many people forget to do a deep clean before potential buyers visit. Deep clean every crevice and make everything look like new. Focus on high-use areas like the kitchen and bathrooms. Make everything sparkle!

Focus on First Impressions

Your house should look inviting, inside and out. Many potential buyers will do a drive-by and just check out your home from the outside. Make sure the house number is visible, the windows are washed and that your yard is well-kept. Tip: Winter is around the corner and the days are getting shorter. This means that many potential buyers will be seeing your home in the dark. Remember to keep your porch lights on and make sure your home is illuminated enough to be properly seen. Installing a few solar lights along your driveway can make your home feel extra inviting.

Spruce Things Up

Invest a bit of time and energy in making your home look its best. This could mean painting your walls, staining the floor or doing some simple landscaping. Be honest about what aspects of your home are not looking their best and do a bit of a make-over. A few little updates can go a long way. Remember to keep things clean and neutral.

Create Space

It may be necessary to go the extra step and put a few items in storage during the selling process. Your home needs to appear spacious and that could require getting rid of some of your large furniture. Create space in any way you can – whether it be by getting rid of some of your furniture, rearranging key pieces, or simply de-cluttering. Keep surfaces clear with minimal decor. You can create the appearance of space in different ways. For example: you can make your closets appear larger by keeping them 75 per cent full.

De-personalize

There is a misconception that staging is decorating – when in fact, these are two very different things. Decorating is personal – it is about taste and preference, while staging is about possibility and neutrality. The idea is to create a space potential buyers can see themselves in and imagine their own preferences. Remove any family photos, personal items from the bathrooms, and collections or hobby items. These items are very personal and can take away from someone’s ability to see themselves in your space. It is important to strike a balance between the look of a ‘model’ home and a ‘lived-in’ home. You can make your home appear lived-in by adding a few touches such as a bowl of fruits in the kitchen, fresh-cut flowers on the dining room table, or a plush luxury robe in the bathroom.

Give Rooms a Purpose

Every room should have a distinct purpose. If you are currently using a spare room for storage, it is important to give this room a different purpose when staging. Many experts say that rooms should always have a bed in them so that potential buyers will view them as bedrooms. (This is mostly the case if your home has four or less rooms.) For example, if you live alone and have a three bedroom home and are currently using one room as an office and another as a tv-room, potential buyers might not think that the rooms are fit to be bedrooms. Remember that every home is different and every buyer is different – use your instinct.

A little staging can go a long way. If you would like some advice on the best way to stage your home, give me a call at 416-921-1112 – I would be happy to help.

Market Watch Report: October 2016

POSTED ON November 9th  - POSTED IN Featured News, Market Watch

October Home Sales Up Year-Over-Year

November 3, 2016 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported a record 9,768 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in October 2016 – up by 11.5 per cent compared to October 2015. For the TREB market area as a whole, the largest annual rate of sales growth was in the condominium apartment market segment. Detached home sales were up by 10 per cent year-over-year, driven predominantly by transactions in the regions surrounding Toronto.

“The record pace of GTA home sales continued in October, with strong growth observed throughout the month. As we move through November and December, we will be watching the sales and listings trends closely, in light of the recent policy changes announced by the Federal Minister of Finance. TREB will once again be conducting consumer survey work, in order to report on home buying intentions for 2017,” said Mr. Cerqua.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 19.7 per cent on a yearover- yeaThe MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 19.7 per cent on a yearover- year basis in October 2016. Similarly, the average selling price for all home types combined was $762,975 – up 21.1 per cent over the same time period. Double-digit increases were experienced for all major home types for the TREB Market Area as a whole.

“New listings were up slightly in October compared to last year, but not nearly enough to offset the strong sales growth. This meant that seller’s market conditions continued to prevail as buyers of all home types experienced intense competition in the marketplace. Until we experience sustained relief in the supply of listings, the potential for strong annual rates of price growth will persist, especially in the low-rise market segments,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Full Market Watch Report October 2016

6 Things to Consider before Investing in Solar Panels

POSTED ON November 8th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-08

If you are considering installing solar panels in the near future, there are a few things you should know.

Here are 6 Factors to Consider before making the investment:

It is Still a New Consumer Product. Solar technology has been around for quite some time but it has not always been readily available for consumers. Compared to other home renovations and electrical work, there are not as many people who are qualified or experienced to do solar panel installations. Additionally, there are not many customers that have owned a solar power system through its full life-cycle. Ensure that you hire a professional that knows exactly what they are doing.

There Needs to be Enough Light. Is there enough sunlight reaching your roof? If your roof is shaded for most of the day, there may not be enough of a ‘solar window’ to justify the cost of the panels. Ensure that there is enough light to make the project worth your while. Think ahead as well. If you have planted leafy trees around your property, will they eventually obstruct sunlight? Is there construction happening near your home that may block light too?

Make Sure Your Roof is Structurally Sound. Solar installations can come with warranties for 20 to 25 years. Have your roof inspected. If there is some work that needs to be completed in the near future, do it before you install the panels. This way you will not only avoid having to take everything down, but you will avoid paying to have it installed again.

Practice Efficiency. It is important to make your home as energy efficient as possible. The amount of energy you need to produce will be dependent on how much you use. Look for efficiency upgrades for your home before you install.

Find Out How You Can Connect to the Grid. Do you have to pay a fee? How long will set-up take? How and when will you get credited for the electricity you generate? The answers to these questions will be dependent on where you live and what options you go with. Make sure you know all the answers before you make any investments.

Rent or Own? You have the option to rent or buy solar panels. Renting lets you access less expensive electricity, but the benefits are limited. With buying, you pay more up front but have larger dividends. It is a good idea to run a cost-benefit analysis. Weigh the savings of renting against the benefits of ownership. Remember that when you buy a solar power system it can continue producing energy for decades. It is also good to keep in mind that although the panels themselves have quite a long lifespan, other electronic equipment in the system like power inverters may need replacement sooner. Do not forget to factor in replacement costs in your budgeting.

Solar panels can be a great investment. Just make sure you do the research to find out if it is a good fit for you!

Done Deals: Three Way Bidding War for a King’s Landing Suite

POSTED ON November 4th  - POSTED IN Done Deals, Elli's Archives, Featured News

Done Deals: Three Way Bidding War for a King’s Landing Suite            460 Queens Quay West

Sydnia Yu

Special to the Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, November 3, 2016

460 QUEENS QUAY W., No. 502E, TORONTO

ASKING PRICE: $1,048,000

SELLING PRICE: $1,111,880

TAXES: $5,225 (2015)

DAYS ON THE MARKET: Five

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

The Action: There aren’t often many opportunities to buy at the King’s Landing building, so this two-bedroom-plus-solarium suite drew in more than a dozen visitors within a few days this summer. It sold in under a week in a three-way bidding war.

What They Got: On the south side of a 30-year-old mid-rise – with optimal views of Lake Ontario – is this 1,672-square-foot unit with a balcony accessible from both bedrooms and a sunroom with a curved glass ceiling.

Set further back from the windows is an open living room, a dining area and renovated kitchen behind pocket doors, as well as two full bathrooms, laundry and storage facilities.

The unit comes with parking and monthly fees of $1,211 to cover water, security and amenities, such as a pool and tennis court.

The Agent’s Take: “King’s Landing is a very nice building built in the eighties and was very innovative for its time facing the waterfront,” agent Elli Davis says. “A lot of downsizers have bought in there and don’t move, and there’s a lot of downtown [professionals] who … like the access to the island airport and Financial District.”

4 Questions to Consider When Choosing a Retirement Community

POSTED ON November 3rd  - POSTED IN Featured News

2016-11-03

If you are considering a retirement community for yourself or someone close, keep these questions in mind to ensure you choose one that fits the best:

What Amenities are Available?

Retirement communities come in all shapes and sizes, with amenities varying greatly based on location. Will you be looking for a community in Florida, with amenities inclined to the weather there, or closer to home? If you are looking abroad, you may find communities that are similar to resorts with spas, golf courses, outdoor pools, etc. Many Ontario communities do offer extras like fitness rooms, indoor and outdoor recreation areas and plenty of other types of activities. Ask yourself how you would like to be spending your time, and look for a community that can facilitate your interests. A good retirement community nourishes physical, social, emotional, intellectual, vocational and spiritual needs. They can offer extras such as lectures, events, workshops, maintenance assistance, exercise classes, expert care, support and more.

How Much Will it Cost?

Costs will vary depending on the community. The price you pay will be highly dependent on how much space you are looking to rent. A bachelor suite will be a lot different than a 2-bedroom suite. Typically, your ‘rent’ will cover your meal plan – which usually includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, with coffee and snacks available throughout the day. Most places will also offer complimentary shuttles to a few key locations, as well as on-site activities and they may even cover certain healthcare costs. Make sure you understand your expenses, and know what it is included and what is not.

What Level of Care Will You Receive, Should You Need It?

It is important to consider your needs and how they may change down the road. A person’s needs can vary based on health, physical ability and age. It can happen that younger retirees may need more assistance than some who are ninety years or better. Be honest about your needs and make sure that you can get the proper attention and care necessary for your well-being. Some retirement communities do little in the way of health care while others are primarily focused on it. Find out what level of care a community can offer you.

What Type of Lifestyle Do Residents Enjoy?

How will you be looking to spend your time? Are you hoping to be in the middle of a bustling city to enjoy local amenities, shopping, entertainment and culture? Or would you rather be in a community that is tucked away and surrounded by nature? There are communities that can suit just about any lifestyle, whether it be active, creative, relaxed or social. Those searching for activity can often be just as happy in a particular community as those looking to enjoy quiet time alone as many communities focus on facilitating various lifestyles.

Retirement communities are different from other communities in that they offer services and amenities that help maintain long term well-being and promote a feeling of belonging. They are great if you are looking for living assistance or enjoy the company of people who have similar interests. Retirement communities are only one of the many options to consider when you are planning on downsizing. For more general information on Ontario retirement communities, click here. If you are hoping to downsize, and could use some help and advice, feel free to call me at 416-921-1112 – I am always happy to help.