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Archive for September, 2014

Housing Expert Helps You Buy with Confidence

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

portraitIf David Fogel had the floor in a room full of wannabe home buyers he’d ask them to step back, take a breather and consider the lot size.

Too many buyers get caught up in the details of countertops, windows and floors, all items that depreciate in value over time. Instead purchasers should consider their lot. It’s the lot that is the driver of rising house prices.

“The home investment has two components, the house and the lot” says the 58-year-old realtor and construction professional. “One is depreciating and the other is appreciating. The house might be depreciating at a snail’s pace but it’s still depreciating.”

Fogel, who has spent the last 30 years working in the construction industry, thinks purchasers would be wise to consider their lot size, especially the lot width, when buying. Call him, he’ll explain why. As an agent for Freeman Real Estate for almost 15 years, Fogel’s work focuses solely on buyers. His years of experience building and renovating means his clients have a builder with them at every home they consider, offering valuable information early in the process.

In a city like Toronto, renovations and additions to homes are common thanks in large part to the fact that the homes are getting up there in age with many over 100 years old.

“I’ve spent a good part of my real estate career helping people buy homes,” says the Toronto native. “Because of my combined experience, working for 30 years in both real estate sales and construction, I’m well equipped to help buyers evaluate a home, or estimate renovation costs or warn of potential hidden problems.”

David ran his own construction company for over 20 years. Today, his time is split between real estate sales and as a construction consultant at Altius Architecture, a large architectural firm that designs and builds modern homes.  This year Altius won an ARIDO interior design award for a home in Etobicoke.

A stickler for detail, David rarely has more than one or two clients at a time. And often, it takes viewings of more than 20 houses before his clients find the right one.

“To avoid any conflict of interests, I don’t work for two purchasers looking in the same area for same type of home” he says, “and I never sell, I simply answer questions, and I try to point out what may not be apparent to the untrained eye.”






Historic Walk of Seaton Village

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Screenshot (7)Freeman Real Estate is happy to once again host one of its most popular community events, an Historic Walk of Seaton Village led by local historian and retired school teacher Marilyn Spearin.

The walk begins at 1 p.m. on September 28. Participants are asked to meet outside of Freeman Real Estate at 988 Bathurst St. just before that time. It runs about 1 ½ to two hours and explores the area between Bloor Street West to Dupont and Christie Street to Bathurst.

The tour will focus on the neighbourhood’s settlement period, which took place between the 1860s and 1920, and Marilyn will point out important buildings and homes and give the history of street names and other visual clues that tell the tale of the area’s past.

New to this year’s tour will be historical accounts of the names of various lanes. The naming of Seaton Village lanes is a fairly recent occurrence that was set in motion thanks to the Seaton Village Residents’ Association, which also worked at selecting those people and institutions worthy of merit.

Participants can expect to learn about Deborah Brown for whom a lane to the east of Markham Street has been named. Also known as Mammy Brown, Deborah was likely the first black resident of Seaton Village as a runaway slave from Maryland. In the 1860s the population of blacks in the neighbourhood was relatively large with about 50 people, many of whom had been born in the U.S. and escaped slavery by seeking refuge in Canada.

Another lane, the Mission House Lane is named after the Anglican Sisters of St. John the Divine. They ran a mission that provided basic food, clothing and medical aid for the indigent from 1890 to 1912.

On a personal note, we, Dan and Elden Freeman, are proud of the lane named in honour of our grandfather, Max Hartstone, who with our grandmother Sarah Hartstone, opened Steven’s Milk in 1958 on the corner of Bathurst and Olive. Max and his oldest son Marvin ran the store until Max’s death in 1982. The store was closed in 1998 when Marvin suffered a major heart attack. Today, the store is owned and operated by Helen and Steve Moon as Steven’s Groceries. But our family enjoyed a good run there for 40 years.

Marilyn is a member of the Community History Project, a non-profit citizens’ group of people interested in local history. The group runs the Tollkeeper’s Cottage, a museum at Davenport and Bathurst. Marilyn also edited a 40-plus-page booklet detailing the area’s history that is sold at the museum for $15.

In case of rain, the walk will take place at the same time on the following Sunday, October 5.


Be True to Your School

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Calling all Humewood Community School alumni: your alma mater wants you.untitled

Humewood is marking its 100th year anniversary on October 18 from 1pm – 4pm and the school is looking for alumni to spread the word and to help out.

Organizers of the celebration are asking former students to search the recesses of their minds for memories of their time at Humewood. Here is what they want you to think about:

What is your favourite memory of Humewood?

How did you get to school? What did you do during recess?

What did you do after school?

How was school life different from today? Anything else you would like to share?

Organizers plan to put together poster boards with the answers. Feel free to send in photos as well. Please send your replies to Julia Lalande at humewoodcentenary@gmail.com. You can also contact Humewood’s new principal Julie Whitfield at Julie.Whitfield@tdsb.on.ca. Julie would also like to hear from you if you are interested in getting involved on the actual day.

One of six public schools built in 1914, Humewood originally had 11 rooms including three classrooms, each with seats for 48 students. The building also contained an office, a teachers’ lounge, and an inspection room. The 240- x 568-feet lot was valued at $45,440, the building at $90,000 and the furniture, $1,000.

The school’s name came from Humewood Ave., the street that bounded its eastern side, which was named for the Honorable William Hume Blake, the Vice-Chancellor of Upper Canada. His 50-acre estate, built in the 1850s, was named after his ancestral home in Ireland.

In its early days, Humewood’s classrooms were kept at a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But the building was magnificent with large windows, high ceilings and wide staircases. The classrooms also had high ceilings and rooms were airy and bright.

Over the years, various improvements and changes were made to the school including the addition of services, a gymnasium, a library, a medical health service and outdoor playing fields. At one time the school served its residents as an informal community centre for various organizations and interests. Thanks to the community’s fantastic growth, a brand new school was built in the early ‘70s to meet the needs of this ethnically diverse community.

On a few occasions, Humewood has been threatened with closure but thanks to its devoted school community, supporters have managed to watch its much-loved school grow and prosper.

In 2011, the Toronto District School Board committed millions toward retrofitting Humewood and the school underwent significant renovations that included eliminating the open plan design, new French immersion and specialized classrooms, lockers, smart boards and Wi-Fi.


Giving Thanks to Our Imperfect World

Monday, September 8th, 2014


As we express gratitude for the light in our lives this Thanksgiving, perhaps we should also take a page from the Japanese viewpoint that finds joy in 10685585_709171875803533_5440149884046572516_nimperfection and send a little nod to the beauty within our own flawed corner of the world.

This aesthetic ideal is known as wabi-sabi and it dates back centuries, emerging as a reaction to tea ceremonies that had become ridiculously drawn out and ostentatious. Some decided to return these communal get-togethers to their roots as simpler, quieter occasions that employed local materials and artisans.

The Japanese have embraced the attitude of wabi-sabi for years, finding beauty in a world that is imperfect, simple, rustic, impermanent and old. Wabi-sabi is not just a style of design but more of a way of life, explains Robyn Griggs Lawrence, who was instrumental in introducing North America to the concept through her two books, The Wabi-Sabi House and Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House.

“It’s not going out and buying hot-house flowers from Brazil but finding native plants from right where you are,” she explained recently from her home in Colorado. “It’s about practicing and developing your sense of gratitude and contentment for what is right there.”

Lawrence believes those who embrace wabi-sabi will naturally learn to become more appreciative of their lives and have more free-flowing gratitude. She believes it can help people to accept and embrace their homes as sacred, nurturing spaces.

“Wabi-sabi is everything that today’s sleek, mass-produced, technology-saturated culture isn’t,” she says in The Wabi-Sabi House. “It’s flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. Wabi-sabi celebrates cracks and crevices and rot and all the other marks that time and weather and use leave behind.”

“Wabi-sabi is all about clearing away the clutter and dreck so that we can appreciate our homes as beautiful, just the way they are,” she says.

Lawrence’s books are laid out in a type of 12-step pattern in which the reader is taken on a journey that covers topics large and small. You learn tips for slowing down, choosing local artisans or handmade items over imports, the art of silence and meditation, the importance of getting rid of clutter and how to offer your hospitality.

“It’s not how to be Martha Stewart and impress the hell out of your guests. There’s a whole piece on soul in the book.”

In an effort to embrace wabi-sabi, you need to accept the imperfection of your home, a move Lawrence says will prove wonderful and freeing because we all know “that to-do list can make you unhappy in your own home.”

Here are some simple steps from Lawrence’s book for incorporating wabi-sabi into your life right now:

  • One day a week, wash the dinner dishes by hand. Taking on this task alone allows you quiet, uninterrupted time to think—or not think.
  • Pay attention to your daily bread. Is the food you’re eating in season, and is it available locally? Through the meals you choose and prepare, you can connect with the earth’s cycles and with the place where you live—and live a healthier life. Buy food from your local farmers’ markets and ask the produce manager at your grocery store where different items came from.
  • Next time you sweep the floor, consider it a meditation. Opt for the broom over the Dirt Devil whenever possible.
  • When you’re invited to someone’s house or even just to a meeting, bring a small gift—nothing extravagant, just a small gesture (a jar of homemade jam, apples from your tree or a luxurious bar of soap) that lets them know they’re appreciated.
  • Offer everyone who comes to visit a cup of tea. Serve it in pretty cups with a little something sweet. If no one comes by, enjoy a cup of tea by yourself in the late afternoon.
  • Keep one vase in your home filled with seasonal flowers.
  • Take a walk every day. Let this be your opportunity to open up your senses and to experience the changing seasons.
  • Learn to knit or crochet.
  • Next time you buy something, stop and ask questions. Who made it? How was it made? Where does it come from?

Who knows? Slowing down a little may give us the presence of mind to appreciate more.

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.

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.