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Archive for January, 2014

Winterlicious Starts this Friday!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

A Wintertime Culinary Celebration


Winterliscious 2014 Image

Let your palate take a stroll though the many yummy culinary flavours Toronto has to offer in February as part of the two-week-long Winterlicious festival for foodies.

The 11th annual event sponsored by the city features prix fixe menus from $15 to $45 and reservations are strongly recommended. Winterlicious runs from January 31 to February 13.

While visiting all 200-plus participating restaurants would be an impossible feat, we thought it better to narrow our focus to the Annex and Seaton Village neighbourhoods near Freeman Real Estate. Let’s look at those eateries that are within walking distance. That way, we can either work up an appetite on the way over or burn off a few calories on the way home.

Arisu at 584 Bloor Street West offers patrons a blend of modern and traditional Japanese and Korean cuisines with a vast array of menu choices. Order sushi with your bulgogi and you’ve covered the best of both worlds. Be sure to check out the Korean BBQ, a fun table-top grill that lets you be the chef.

Bistro Tournesol at 406 Dupont is an intimate restaurant, a favourite for Tarragon Theatre goers that serves a prix-fixe menu all year round. Classic French food at good value is what you get in this 30-seat restaurant. Be sure to check out the wine list.

The Corner House at 501 Davenport has been turning on the charm for 15 years in an unpretentious, relaxed atmosphere that combines a cozy French décor with moderate prices and great service. Expect nothing but deliciousness as former Jump chef Herbert Barnsteiner runs the kitchen brigade.

Led by celebrity chef Massimo Capra Mistura at 265 Davenport Road offer patrons upscale contemporary Italian cuisine with ingredients that reflect each changing season. The atmosphere is elegant yet relaxed, perfect for a night out with friends, sweethearts or business associates.

Get a psychic reading while waiting for your chicken gumbo at Southern Accent, a New Orleans inspired establishment that features Cajun, Creole and soul food in the warm hospitable embrace of fun and funky décor. Listen for the strains of zydeco and Louisiana music as you nosh on hush puppies and piquant sauce. Located in Mirvish Village at 595 Markham Street.

Splendido at 88 Harbord Street is a classic Toronto restaurant that mixes modern and traditional cuisines, incorporating fresh locally sourced fruits and veggies in addition to drop-dead gorgeous plate presentations. Consistently ranked as one of the city’s best.

Bon appétit!

Test Your Eco Smarts!

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014


You call yourself a tree hugger, perhaps a green activist or super saver of the world, but how well do you really understand eco-issues concerning the planet?

Oftentimes, it’s not until we compare our knowledge to someone else that we realize how little or how much we really do know. So in the spirit of fun and self-improvement, we’ve put together an amusing and informative (and very unscientific) quiz that will help you understand how earth-friendly you really are. Who knows? Maybe your efforts are worthy of a prestigious environmental award. And then again, maybe not.

Let’s begin:

1. When it comes to public transportation you think:

  1. The prospect is revolting
  2. You’ll consider it when your car breaks  down
  3. That’s the only way to go

2. Vehicles are better if:

  1. They guzzle gas,  torque and possess every possible bell and whistle
  2. They get a moderate rate of fuel efficiency
  3. You don’t hop in them for your every move

3. What’s not safe to throw out in your trash?

  1. Your mother-in-law
  2. Dryer lint
  3. Household hazardous waste

4. How do you dry your clothes?

  1. I dry clean everything
  2. In the dryer
  3. On a clothes line or rack

5. Your plastic shopping bags are used as:

  1. Fire starters
  2. I prefer to use my cloth bags
  3. I re-use them for other uses such as garbage bags

6. What does CFL stand for?

  1. Crazy For Life
  2. Canadian Football League
  3. Compact Fluorescent  Light

7. Your showers are:

  1. So long we had to install a second hot water tank
  2. Twenty minutes followed by electricity guzzlers such as heat lamps, towel warming racks and a blow-dry
  3. Ten minutes tops

8. Global warming is:

  1. A silly myth perpetuated by over-the-top nature lovers
  2. Believed by some to be a threat to the earth
  3. A scientifically proven fact

9. What room in the house generates the most household waste?

  1. The bathroom – obviously.
  2. The garage
  3. The kitchen

10. The Slow Food Movement is about:

  1. Chewing food more slowly
  2. An exercise that slows down your metabolism
  3. Enjoying real, healthy food and moving away from fast food


Green Lite:

If you answered mostly As, you’re a pale version of green. You like to profess your love of the environment when others are listening, but in reality you’re affection for green centres mainly on money and ogres. Get a grip. Know that it’s up to each and every one of us to do our part for the planet. Start with baby steps and build up from there.

Getting -There Green:

Mostly B answers nets you this very respectable showing. Getting-There Green means exactly that – you’re on your way to becoming a pillar of the green movement. You understand the issues and you comply with many of the ways that show your solid understanding of green concerns.  Try to deepen your knowledge this year and begin passing your knowhow on to others. There’s nothing like playing an expert to turn you into one.

The Gandhi of Green:

Need we say more? This category means you’re at the pinnacle of eco-consciousness in all you know and do. Being kind to the earth is so innate that you would be wise to spread your gift to those around you, either formally or informally. Consider teaching or writing. As a green master, wasting your ability would be a shame. But you already knew that.



The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provide a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email elden@nagab.org.


Real Estate is in Her DNA

Monday, January 13th, 2014


Real Estate is in Her DNA

At 24, Nicole Gay may be Freeman Real Estate’s youngest realtor but in terms of understanding the business you could say she’s as old as the hills.

With two parents who’ve spent a combined 40 years working in real estate, Nicole grew up in the embrace of the business surrounded by conversations about open houses, clients and contracts. By 16, she was working part time at a huge Remax office in Mississauga, inputting offers for realtors, updating website listings and acting as the company liaison between clients and agents.

Nicole obtained her commerce degree in 2011 from McMaster University and could have explored a myriad of business avenues, but always knew a career in real estate would be her calling.

“Given my age, having an education behind me gives me credibility,” says Nicole. “I didn’t get into real estate by accident. I’ve been with it my whole life. I gained valuable experience from behind the front desk and got the opportunity to see how various realtors built their businesses.”

After earning her realtor’s license, Nicole joined her parents’ real estate team in Mississauga and worked with them for two years before joining Freeman last year.  With her parents planning to retire in the next year, Nicole knew she had to cut loose so she decided a move to Toronto would be wise for both personal and professional reasons.

What appealed to Nicole about working for Freeman was the company’s sophisticated yet personal approach. She was also drawn to the depth of expertise and the lengthy experience the Freemans bring to the table.

“I was looking for a smaller, boutique operation, one that could offer a more personalized mentorship,” says Nicole. “I sense a difference in company values with Freeman. They take care in who they hire. When I first interviewed with the company, it just felt like home.”

Nicole expects 2014 will bring her plenty of interesting opportunities, including an exploration of which niche – say for example freehold Victorians versus condos — she may decide to specialize in.

An avid sports lover, Nicole enjoys sailing, soccer and travel and has sailed extensively in Antigua and the British Virgin Islands. She’s currently considering a two-week sailing trip in Thailand as well.

This year will garner a lot of change for Nicole. In addition to her newish job, she’s also moving to Toronto soon so the ties to her parents and her hometown will be undone. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate the gifts they’ve given her, not at all.

“The majority of what I know about real estate is from my parents,” Nicole says. “They’ve been the best mentors ever.”

What the Experts Predict for 2014

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Canada’s largest real estate association is calling for a strong year in sales for 2014.

The Canadian Real Estate Association projects sales to reach 458,200 units across the country for the year. While this represents a slight increase of eight tenths of one per cent over last year, growth in sales projections are looking upward for the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

“Most housing markets are well balanced, including many large urban centres,” says CREA chief economist Gregory Klump. “Housing price gains are always stronger in places where supply is tight relative to demand, such as we’re seeing in Calgary and in parts of southern Ontarioincluding the low rise market in Toronto.”

In 2014, national activity is forecast to climb to 475,000 units, which represents a hike of 3.7 per cent. Most of the increase reflects the weak start to 2013, which is not expected to happen again in the early part of this year.

In Toronto, where dire predictions of a housing bubble and a pricing collapse have been bandied about for years now, expect the opposite. According to Central 1 Credit Union, the city’s rising population combined with land supply restrictions will see house prices doubling over the next 25 years.

Expect Ontario house prices to rise about four per cent a year through 2016. The credit union says higher mortgage rates over the next three years will hold back housing sales in Ontario
generally, but will not cause a market correction.

It also predicts the Toronto condo market will slow as builders delay new construction in the face of weaker demand. The uncertainty facing the condo market is driven in large part by the
belief that investors own a large chunk of the market and that speculation in condos could halt if investors get scared. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation says about 23 per cent of Toronto condos are rented out, while others say that figure is likely closer to 50 per cent.

Central 1 also predicts Ontario’s overall rental apartment vacancy will hold steady at 2.6 per cent through 2014, before declining to less than two per cent in 2016.

In terms of the national picture, British Columbia is expected to post a strong increase in sales at 8.4 per cent for 2014, most provinces will show gains of two to four per cent.

CREA says the national average home price is set to rise by 5.2 per cent to $382,200 with similar gains in the Prairie provinces, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. Smaller gains are
projected for the other provinces.

In Toronto, where the average selling price for December 2013 sales was $520,398 – up by nearly nine per cent compared to the average of $477,756 in December 2012, expect smaller gains of about 1.5 per cent, says CMHC.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.