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Archive for December, 2014

Just Cause it’s Cold Outside Doesn’t Mean a Deep Freeze for the Housing Market

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

We naturally understand that the holidays place a huge stress on our time given all the commitments the festive season creates. Yet we’ve always believed that real estate should carry on like usual though many consumers opt to put the brakes on the buying and selling of real estate during the holidays.

We’ve said it here before that those who continue shopping throughout the festive season are more inclined to realize a good buy as opposed to those who wait till winter’s thaw.

And it appears that our message is starting to get through.  According to a survey by Ipsos Reid, two-thirds of prospective home buyers in Ontario are planning to continue their search for the perfect home over the holidays. A majority of buyers feel that shopping for a home during the holiday season could mean less competition among potential buyers and, possibly, a better deal on the price of a desired home.

With the thought that potential sellers could be worried their home will sit on the market while prospective buyers are enjoying the holiday season with their families, a majority (55%) of likely buyers believe that sellers are more willing to negotiate on the price over the holidays, compared to two in ten (19%) who don’t believe sellers will be in a negotiating mood over the holidays.

If you’re a seller, less competition is a good thing for you. You are competing in a much smaller inventory over Christmas and New Year’s so that means more buyers’ eyes on your property. Ensure that your house is priced well and that your home is always ready for a viewing.

If you’re looking for a home over the holidays, you’re obviously very motivated.  Since time constraints from seasonal commitments and miserable cold weather make people want to hibernate, sellers need to be flexible about showings.

Festive decorations can make a home look merry and bright. Just don’t overdo it. Christmas lights are pretty but not in the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation way. When strangers traipse through your home they want to feel cheerful and comfortable so don’t assault them with stinky food smells, ugly décor and too much clutter. Bake gingerbread and light a fire to add to the warm and cozy feel.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid, a leading public opinion researcher, on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).


Put Earth Eco on Your Agenda This Year

Friday, December 19th, 2014


The New Year is a good time to reflect on our past performance, our present considerations and how we see them fitting into our dreams for the future.

As we take leave of another holiday season, a time of year often marked by excess, we should turn our thoughts to ways in which happiness and contentment fill our hearts not by how much we consume but by what we save and spare.

As a realtor, your role as a trusted advisor in the lives of your clients cannot be undermined and that’s why it’s vital that you use your position to spread the word about saving the planet. We’re not talking about getting self-righteous and preachy, but sharing your know-how from a place of compassion and practicality. Besides, in this day and age, it’s the socially responsible thing to do. You’ll be surprised at how influential you really are.

So when you consider how you’d like to make 2015 better, think about the ways you can help the environment and, by turn, your clients. Know also that they’ll appreciate your tips, advice and recommendations. After all, you’re helping them save money.  In the end, their estimation of you is elevated and that’s good for everyone.

Raising your green IQ might be a good place to start.  Generally speaking, green real estate has less impact on the environment in its construction and its day-to-day operation when compared to its less environmentally friendly and conventional neighbours.

Do you know about efficient ways of using energy and water? How’s your knowledge on environmentally sustainable materials?  What constitutes a healthy house in your mind?

So that your clients can take advantage of government-sponsored rebates and incentives on eco-friendly upgrades, get acquainted with whom they should talk to about obtaining energy audits in their market area. The audit essentially pre-qualifies them for the grants. It’s probably also a good idea to find out what rebates are available in your province and, if applicable, in your municipality.

But don’t let your heightened awareness stop there. Find out about ways your clients can save on their energy bills. What types of insulation are best suited for mid-century homes? Are tankless water heaters really worth the investment? Is it worth replacing your older appliances with Energy Star ones? What renovators and builders in your market take into account green principles when plying their trade?

Take a look at your own eco footprint. As a real estate professional, do you burn through fuel, paper and energy as though there were a limitless supply? You might want to think of better, cleaner ways to run your business.

Consider the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB), a national non-profit professional association that aims to educate real estate professionals about energy conservation and environmental awareness.  NAGAB offers designations that help realtors gain more clients and increase profitability, protect the natural environment, fight climate change, access new markets and create a positive, long-term impact on their community.

As January begins a shiny new year filled with hope and optimism, we’re eager to earn more money, mend ailing relationships, lose weight, and go to the gym more often. But why not do our earth a favour and add the environment to your list of resolutions for 2015? The world will be glad you did.

Understanding Green Home Trends for 2015

Monday, December 15th, 2014

In 2015, we will begin to see changes in the way consumers spend their money and how they approach buying real estate.

Because consumers will grow even more green, value-conscious and mobile, expect those traits to penetrate the housing industry more deeply than ever.

Renovate is the fourth R when it comes to the environmentimages710F933R
More people will turn to makeovers when it comes to changing the space in which they live. This is good news for their pocketbook and for the environment.

Expect homeowners to invest in energy-efficient upgrades that reduce the draw on a home’s heating and cooling.

Footprints Shrink — When people build new homes, more will be doing so with smaller as opposed to bigger footprints.  According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average size of a new home in 1978 was 1,750 square feet, a figure that had grown to 2,520 square feet by 2008. In 2010, that figure fell to 2,480 square feet. The decreasing trend is expected to continue with square footage estimated to fall to 2,152 by 2015.

Net Zero – A net zero home generates as much energy as it consumes. To achieve this, homeowners need to combine passive and active design strategies. Passive energy includes such methods as strategically placed windows that maximize or deter heat or shrubs and trees planted to help cool your home. Solar panels and wind turbines, on the other hand, produce energy.

While investing in a renewable energy system such as a geothermal well can be costly, perhaps the net result is worth it in the long run.

Energy Monitoring Systems — Keep track of your minute-by-minute energy-monitoring-system-onzo-smart-energy-kit-3energy
usage. Find out what it costs to wash a load of laundry or to cook a meal. The point, of course, is for you to learn how and when you use the most and to figure out ways to cut back.

LEDs – These lights use less energy than compact fluorescents images1D1BU5U1(CFL) and have much longer life spans. Prices are dropping  with LEDs so more and more consumers will adopt this lighting especially once they learn how much more they can save on their energy bills.




Tis the Season for Hot Chocolate

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Nothing warms the heart and soul come winter’s cold quite like a creamy, steamy cup of hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate or cocoa, if you prefer, usually consists of shaved or melted chocolate or cocoa powder mixed with heated milk or water and sugar. Some like to sprinkle their chocolate with cinnamon. Others prefer a dollop of whipped cream on top, a handful of marshmallows or a drop of vanilla for added flavour. For a peppermint taste, add two mint candies. If you like your chocolate spiced up a bit add a pinch of cayenne pepper or ground chili pepper.

As you hustle and bustle throughout the city at this hectic time of year, don’t forget to take time out for yourself by sitting down to a comforting warm beverage of chocolate. While just about any restaurant can offer hot chocolate, some really know how to do it up right. Here’s a look:untitled

ChocoSol, at 1131 St. Clair West, is a social enterprise that focuses on making the food of the gods – otherwise known as cocoa – right here in Toronto. The chocolate is made without dairy, gluten, soy and nuts, and are also vegan. ChocoSol specializes in both eating chocolate and drinking chocolate (xocolatl).

untitled1At 361 Roncesvalles, The Chocolateria makes its in-store hot chocolate using German cocoa and Callebaut chocolate, a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon for a frothy warm dark chocolate bevy. On weekends the store offers a milk chocolate flavoured hot drink and another variation such as peppermint hot chocolate. Yum.

imagesJQSX8J53Nestled within Yorkville, MoRoCo Chocolat is a chocolate lover’s nirvana located at 99 Yorkville Ave. Its sipping chocolates come in three flavours: 66 % dark chocolate, milk chocolate with chai, or blond chocolate with espresso beans. They’re presented in little pots with shot glasses from which to sip and enjoy.

imagesKY4GAPC9The Junction’s Delight Chocolate at 3040 Dundas West offers customers a sip of heaven with its mouth-watering choice of hot chocolate. Regular is on tap alongside a hot chocolate that is spiced with ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and coriander, then there is a peanut-butter flavoured drink and finally bittersweet orange.

Nadege Patisserie at 780 Queen West offers two different hot chocolates in house: its signature 70 % hot chocolate and a Peruvian chocolate known as Illanka. Either choice comes with a house-made Guimauve (French for marshmallow). Hot chocolate flavours in the store’s gift-box untitled2sampler include bourbon vanilla, spice (including cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg) and dark chocolate. Made-from-scratch marshmallows include raspberry, strawberry, cotton candy, gin and tonic and rose and litchi fruit, among others.

Ways to do the Season Right

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

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The weather outside might be frightful and that’s why there’s no better time than December to boost spirits and celebrate our jolly festive season.

Whether your mark the holidays in piety or in more material ways or perhaps, like many of us, a combination of the two, Toronto has a bountiful assortment of ways to make merry. Let’s take a look:

The Distillery District’s Christmas Market is a throwback to the street markets that originated in Germany in the 1400s. Offering traditional sights, sounds and scents of Christmas, this seven-day-week market runs until Dec. 21. Dozens of live entertainers, craftspeople, artists and artisans, seasonal food and drink offerings and merchandise are on hand. This event has something for every age.

The One-of-a-Kind Christmas Show and Sale marks 40 years this year with more than 800 artisans selling their wares at the Direct Energy Centre until December 7. Known as a flagship destination for Canadian handmade dimages22V1VLPTesigns and merchandise, the event will be attended by more than 140,000 who come to buy, browse and appreciate quality craftsmanship and design.

Longing for a Christmas straight out of an Osmond family TV special? You’re in luck because Donny and Marie Osmond will be tra-la-la-la-laing at the Princess of Wales Theatre from December 9 — 21. Expect plenty of holiday faves with a review of hits from their lengthy careers in Donny & Marie Christmas in Toronto.

If the Osmonds don’t rock your boat, you may want to try homegrown talent in the form of the Barenaked Ladies, performing Hits & Holiday Songs at Roy Thomson Hall December 11 and 12th.

Get a photo of you and the team at Purina PawsWay (245 Queens Quay West). The real team of dog sledders are on hand December 13 & 14 and 20 & 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The canine fun takes place during Winterfest and lets you see up close and personal what equipment is used in dog sledding. Sneak a quick puppy pat or brief chat with Tanya Hawley and her authentic sledding dogs.

Don’t miss Santa in the Junction on Sunday, December 7 beginning at 11 a.m.  A Dundas Street West winter market, a visit from Santa and his elves, live holiday music, a Reindeer Scavenger Hunt, various workshops and demonstrations plus plenty of holiday-themed refreshments for everyone.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, visit the Global News Toy Drive Live event at the Shops at Don Mills on December 4. Donate a new, unwrapped toy in exchange for free food and drink from on-site vendors. Children are encouraged to bring their letters to Santa, take photos with Santa and his reindeer and visit the Global News and Spin Master seasonal booths. The Toy Drive Live event will also feature a selection of holiday carols sung by the Crestwood Choir and an official tree lighting ceremony, taking place during the live broadcast from 5 to 8 p.m.

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.