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April Real Estate Insights


Inflation Inches Higher

According to the Bank of Canada, our economy is proving to be more resilient than anticipated. Last month, Statistics Canada reported that the annual pace of inflation moved higher - up 1.1% in February, compared with a year earlier. February's reading marked only the third month that inflation was at or above 1% mark during this pandemic.

The Bank of Canada has cautioned that year-over-year inflation readings from March onward this year may shoot above its 2% target zone as:
1. The 12-month comparison will be measured against the worst of the pandemic-induced downturn.
2. Saved-up money could lead to a “temporary” period of pent-up consumer spending, which could cause inflationary pressure, as retail and restaurants begin to re-open.

The Canadian Dollar Gains Strength
The Canadian dollar has been trending around 80 US cents with reports of stronger than expected job growth in February. Up roughly 1.4% so far this year, it’s outperforming all other major currencies. There are even predictions that the Loonie could get stronger as the recovery continues. 

Housing Market Activity Continues to be “Stronger than Expected”
Fixed mortgage rates have moved roughly 0.4% higher since the start of 2021. Even with a modest rise in the cost of home financing, Canadian home sales activity and prices in some markets are setting new records.

 

 

Bye-Bye Winter... Hello Spring Cleaning!

Now that the chill of winter is behind us, it's the time to check your fireplace chimney. Those with a fireplace certainly made use of it during the cold of winter.

With each fire, up goes the smoke - and more – flames, sparks and hot gasses travel skyward. Cracked mortar or chimney flue tiles, or in the case of pre-fabricated zero clearance style fireplaces, possibly a rusted metal chimney liner, or a build-up of flammable creosote can lead to house fires. 

While having the chimney cleaned and inspected, have the chimney cap checked as well. The cap prevents animals (birds or squirrels) from becoming house guests. Chimney caps can also act as spark arrestors for large sparks that could potentially escape the flue and start a fire outside the home.

Clean & Fix Leaky Eaves
Get the winter debris out, so trapped rain water doesn’t become a mosquito breeding pool. Or worse, the debris doesn’t wash down the pipe and becomes trapped, creating backup that may sneak into the walls. 

Notice cracks or broken seams? Get them sealed to avoid water-damage because of "ponding" around the foundation. 

Cleaning and checking now helps avoid damage causing ice-dams next winter.

 

 

Thinking of Breaking a Closed Mortgage?
Be Clear About The Penalty

Mortgage rates are ticking higher but still trending at historical lows may have you considering renegotiating your mortgage. Research shows that about half of long-term mortgage holders break and/or renegotiate their mortgage before maturity. And while there is a penalty, these Borrowers are looking for long-term interest rate savings. 

The way your prepayment penalty is calculated varies from lender to lender. Your mortgage document should outline pre-payment options, as well as the penalty for early discharge. Federally regulated financial institutions likely also have a prepayment penalty calculator on their website.


 

A Look Out: Determine how the early discharge penalty is calculated. 
The prepayment penalty will usually be the higher of:
• An amount equal to 3 months interest on what you still owe.
• The interest rate differential (IRD). An interest rate that equals the difference between your original mortgage interest rate and the interest rate that the lender currently offers.

This could make a substantial difference to the amount of the penalty.

Pre-payment options and the penalty amount are just two reasons why, when comparing mortgages - look beyond just the rate. 

 

 

Eco-Friendly  -  A Home Selling Feature
Environmentally-friendly home improvements are becoming a factor in home buying decisions. It goes further than just switching bulbs to LEDs and updating light switches to dimmers. Today it’s about installing high-energy efficient windows, doors and insulation, high-efficiency furnaces and appliances, water-conserving fixtures such as low-flow showerheads or dual-flush toilets. Tankless water heaters and environmentally friendly finishes such as paint that is low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are also key features.
It’s a win-win! Environmental friendliness lowers the costs of running a home, plus adds features that make a home stand out when it comes time to sell.

March Realty Insights


Low Borrowing Rates Help Drive the Economy

It’s been a year since the Bank of Canada dropped the key rate below 1%, to help spur the economy. During the past 12-months, as the pandemic swept across the globe, Canadians whose income was maintained during the lockdowns experienced a sharp reduction in spending opportunities.

According to finder.com research, on average, many Canadians were able to save 14.75% of their disposable income in 2020, compared to just 2.9% of their disposable income in 2019. That translated to annual savings of approximately $5,800 in 2020 – roughly 5 times more than the $1,100 saved in 2019.

With areas and sectors slowly re-opening, the BoC has its sights set on consumer “spending” in an effort to get our economic engine back on track.

Why spend? Because super-low interest rates may actually have some Canadians moving backward. For example, Canada’s Total CPI Inflation Rate was 1% in February, while the special rate on a one-year non-redeemable Guaranteed Investment Certificate, quoted on the website of one of the Big Canadian Banks, was 0.25% - the posted rate being 0.15%. After-inflation, $1,000 invested in that GIC would only have the buying power of $990.00 a year from now.

Contrast this with the Canadian Housing Market. Low interest rates offer a marvelous home ownership environment. And unlike a GIC, home is about where we live, share our joys, the good times, and special moments.

 

 

Attic Air Sealing For a Warmer Home

It may need attic air sealing. The attic usually has the most potential for energy savings and is typically accessible. Start with the attic if you want to have the highest impact on spending vs. savings and comfort.

Air sealing the attic may be part of the remedy if your home has:
• Drafty rooms
• Excessive dust (especially in rooms directly below the attic)

Noticed an ice dam forming on the roof? Add attic insulation and ventilation to keep the roof cold. A warm roof melts snow, which flows to the eaves, which then freezes… and over time, water can seep under the shingles and into the house. 

Always do attic air sealing before adding insulation. This could be as simple as removing the existing insulation and adding a vapour barrier and then replacing the insulation.

 

 

Big is Good for Reserve Funds

The purpose of a Reserve Fund in a condominium is to provide financing for major repairs and renewal projects over the life of a condominium complex. To ensure the Reserve Fund is adequate for the size and age of the property and types of Common Elements, a regular Reserve Fund review should be conducted by the Condo Board.

You may want to find out when the last Reserve Fund review was done and if the Fund reasonably covers expected repairs and upgrades, plus adequate amounts to deal with unexpected expenses.

 

 

 

 

Can You Trust Online Product Reviews?

We’re all used to going online and while shopping for a product, reading the reviews. The more positive they sound, the more we’re likely to purchase the product. However, how do we know that the reviews are real? Short answer... we don’t.

Now there’s a website that tries to separate facts from fiction. Using the service is free and easy. Next time you’re shopping on amazon and want to find out if a specific product’s reviews are legit, go to reviewmeta.com and paste the product URL into the Run Report field. Click the button and you’ll see original review scores and an adjusted score.

It’s not perfect and likely not 100% accurate, but it certainly makes you think twice about the purchase when you see a product score drop from a 4.7 to a 2.1!


September Realty Insights


A Different Start to Fall

 

It has been a very odd kind of summer as we’ve all become used to staying close to home, wearing masks and being aware of social distancing. What would have been unusual a year ago is now part of our "everyday."

Housing markets are upbeat with activity and prices in many areas trending upward in part due to historically-low mortgage interest rates. As expected, the Bank of Canada announced today that there's no change to the Key Rate, which was held at 0.25%.

Whenever you’re considering a move, count on my neighbourhood knowledge and smart negotiating to guide you through the home buying and selling process. You may be confident that I have adopted strategies and implemented recommended safety measures to help keep you safe as we continue on the path forward.

 

There Are 30-Year Mortgage Amortizations 

The past 6 months have certainly been stressful. Renewing a mortgage, looking for options to reduce monthly payments? Even though the maximum amortization period for insured mortgages is capped at 25 years, Lenders do offer Conventional Mortgages with 30-year amortizations and may even be able to extend special 30-year options.


A longer amortization period typically means lower monthly payments but there’s less paid toward the mortgage principal each month and in the long run, it means paying more interest. Having a mortgage with a longer amortization doesn’t mean you can’t pay off your mortgage sooner. Check with the Lender about prepayment privileges for down the road.

 

Your Business Could Be the Condo Board's Business

Been working from home these past few months?

 

Check your insurance policy to see if working from home impacts your coverage. The residential condo complex may have a clause in the declaration stating that the complex is strictly residential. So you may not be able to use your place as an office or for other business purposes.

 

The Board may get involved if an owner has business associates, employees, clients, or patients on the premises or if parking becomes an issue.

 

Tips for Increasing Borrowing Power

 

In today’s real estate market, knowing how Lenders calculate borrowing criteria, and how you’ll be able to borrow, is extremely important. A few techniques that will help you get approved and moved!

1. Minimize credit lines – Clear outstanding balances on unsecured credit lines, credit cards or other loans. Cancel credit cards you’re not using.
2. Report all income – Lenders typically look at the previous two years income, so the more income shown, the more borrowing power there may be. That also means having tax returns up to date.
3. Split liabilities and debts with your partner – Check with your accountant. If you’re just going for the loan yourself and your partner isn’t going to be on the mortgage, then it can work in your favour to split your liabilities with them. For example, if you split expenses such as cost of living, a Lender may determine that you’re able to service a much higher loan.
4. Some Lenders “specialize” in approving different styles of income - You might work 9 to 5, or be a contractor, or consultant. You may own a small business. By choosing a Lender that favours your type of income you may be able to boost borrowing power.
5. Get the right type of loan – A lower interest rate is always the initial focus, but look at amortization – 25 or even 30 years. Ask about pre-payment options and portability.
6. Focus on saving - It’s not easy, but with a larger down payment, you’ll have more options.

 

 


August Realty Insights


Summer like no other!

 

Even as we continue to keep a personal distance, there’s plenty of excitement as many of us are getting haircuts, shopping, and enjoying restaurant patios. Housing markets are also upbeat as activity continues to defy expectations.

Ready to put home buying and selling plans into action? can deliver current trends and information to give you a clear picture of what’s going on in the local real estate market. Yes, there have been changes in how the buying and selling process work, and I am here anytime you want to discuss details. I have also adopted the safety precautions recommended by our health professionals to help keep you safe from start to finish.

It’s great to hear positive news as we all adjust to living and working in new ways and adapt to changing social and economic realities. When you or someone you know is ready to make a move, count on me to provide clarity about the real estate market as well as strategic marketing and negotiating smarts to get your deal done.

 

The New Normal...... Hostorically low interest rates.

 

From January 2015 to September 2017, the Bank of Canada’s Key Interest Rate trended below 1%. Over the next two-and-a-half years, a “heating” economy prompted the BoC to steadily raise the Key Rate to 1.75%. Then COVID-19 hit the economy.

 

The current 0.25% Key Rate was held steady again last month and is the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. As we continue to adjust to unprecedented change, it’s a great opportunity for home buyers and those renewing a mortgage to be able to connect with ultra-low rates again. The Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem signaled that historically-low rates may be around until at least 2022.

 

 

A solarium or sunroom could be all glass or a room with very large windows. Years ago, they were made of steel or aluminium and glass, and were known to be hot in summer, leaky, drafty and freezing in winter. Today’s sunrooms are leak-free with insulation features making them comfortable for year-round use. With glass, the key component of the room, consider options such as:

Thinking sunroom?  Think glasss!

 

Heat Reflecting Glass. Today, there’s sunroom glass that allows only 15% of the heat to penetrate the sunroom. In contrast, un-insulated windows allow more than 80% of the sun’s radiant heat to enter – imagine the interior of a car on a hot, sunny day.

High R-Value Glass. R-value is a measure of how well material can resist heat. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation performance. A single pane of glass has an R-value of 0.9. Triple glaze (three pieces of glass in a sealed unit) has an R value of approximately 2.7. Adding argon pushes the R value to approximately 3.7. Low-E2 glass with argon has a coating on both inside surfaces and delivers an R value slightly above 4. R values for all types of glass can be boosted to as much as 10, by replacing the argon with a heavier gas such as krypton, however there’s a considerable increase in cost.

Dirt Repelling Glass. Consider choosing glass that has a coating which repels water, it means less cleaning – especially important for glass roofs.


Water Feature. Water Gardening without a pond.


It’s easy to create a water feature, like a fountain or waterfall, that’s safe for kids and pets. Instead of splashing into open water, the water splashes onto pebbles or rocks and then disappears below the surface.

Once you decide where the water feature should be, dig a hole large enough to hold sufficient water when the system is running… and line it with a pond liner. Most water basins for fountains are at least a foot deep. Put the pump into the hole and cover the hole with a heavy duty grate supported by cement blocks. For a fountain, cut a hole for the fountain head. For a waterfall, attach a hose to the pump and create the waterfall so the flow cascades onto the grate. Put stones on the grate and fill the basin with water. The pump and water are below the stones eliminating a danger of open water to children and pets


July Realty Insights


Happy "Welcome Back"

While following recommendations of health professionals, many of us are now getting out and enjoying sunny days and opportunities to visit, to shop, and if you’re lucky enough to get an appointment, even a haircut. Loosened restrictions are “refreshing” however, there continues to be a need for caution. The end of the lockdown isn’t a return to the old “normal” and it’s not universal.

 

Emerging from the weeks of isolation, we’re all more vigilant about health. That includes me. Over the past few months, I have adopted new systems and I am employing new methods to help keep buyers and sellers safe as they navigate their real estate transactions.

 

No one yet knows what our post-pandemic economy will look like. When you have questions about the housing market, property values, and how low Mortgage Rates, lower Qualifying Rate and new CMHC rules may affect the market and your plans, I am always here to share facts and trends.

 

 

Collateral Mortgage vs Conventional Mortgage

When applying for a mortgage, we’re familiar with asking about the term, amortization, interest rate, and monthly payments. There’s another aspect to be aware of. Some Mortgage Lenders are now asking Borrowers to sign Collateral Mortgages — and it could result in a Borrower being tied to that Lender for longer than anticipated.

The downsides of a Collateral Mortgage can be summed-up as:

  • It may take away a Borrower’s leverage in terms of being able to easily transfer the mortgage, at renewal, to another Lender for a better rate.
  • A Lender may use the Collateral Mortgage to offset unpaid debts other than the mortgage.
  • With a Collateral Mortgage, if in arrears or default, the Lender could raise the interest rate as penalty.

 

When evaluating mortgage options, understand all the differences.

Master Insurance Policy - Do You Know What’s Covered?
 

Condominium Corporations have a Master Insurance Policy that covers the common elements. However, the Master Policy would not cover the inside of a specific suite, so damage to the ceiling, floor, walls, furniture, belongings, as well as personal liability, should be covered by a Homeowners Insurance Policy.

At the next Condo Board meeting, suggest a review of the Master Policy with the condominium’s Insurance Broker. See what’s covered as there may be grey areas, or even duplication. Then, do your own policy review to ensure there’s coverage where the condominium policy leaves off.

 

Chemical-Free Gardening

 

With the focus on the environment, chemical-free lawns are already legislated in most areas. It’s easy to apply green-thinking to controlling garden pests as well.
• Use plants to attract beneficial insects such as mini-wasps, nematodes, and ladybugs that attack pests. Or, build a bat box or birdhouse to attract larger pest-eaters.

• Make a spray with strong odours (garlic or pepper), oils like neem or citrus work as well, or try soaps that repel insects. Apply the spray directly to plants or soil. There are plenty of recipes online.

• For controlling snails and slugs, place a dish of beer in the garden. They love to drink and will stay at the "bar."

As with conventional pesticides, natural pest control products do have the potential to harm beneficial insects as well as pets, so use them with caution. 

 


June Realty Insights


CMHC Tightens Rules for Home Buyers.

Bank of Canada Holds Key Rate at 0.25%

In a surprise announcement, CMHC is tightening mortgage qualifying rules. Starting July 1st, in order to qualify for CMHC mortgage insurance, home buyers with less than a 20% down payment will need: • At least one Borrower’s Credit Score to be at least 680, up from 600. • A Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS) of 35% or less, down from 39% • A maximum Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS) of 42% or less, down from 44%.

 

Mortgage insurance, which protects lenders from the risk of mortgage default, is mandatory in Canada for institutional mortgages with a down payment of less than 20%.

 

The CMHC Announcement came a few days after the Bank of Canada, announced that the Key Rate will be held steady at 0.25%. The sharp cuts to the Key Rate by the Bank of Canada, in March, were designed to help the Canadian economy through the COVID-19 crisis. The Key Rate serves as the benchmark that lenders use to set the interest rates, including the rates for Variable Rate mortgages.

Low mortgage rates and a lower Qualifying Rate for the Mortgage Stress Test (4.94%) are great news for home buyers or homeowners.

Even with the outlook for a strong economic bounce-back when the pandemic dissipates, forecasters anticipate that the Key Rate likely won’t budge until 2021.

Click the Landscaping into Place
Social distancing has created some challenges for people doing home upgrades, especially when trying to communicate ideas or collaborate with a contractor or landscaper. If you’re planning the outdoor space, move away from pencil and paper. There are great online design tools that provide easy ways to design what you’re dreaming of.

Smart Draw (www.smartdraw.com/landscape-design/templates) is a design tool – great for home renos, landscape planning, deck design, and more. There’s a free online trial version with great templates to get you started and help you visualize ideas.

Credit Card Balance Protection Insurance is expensive when compared to other forms of insurance and it may not cover what you hope it does.

In the event of a job loss or if you become medically disabled, Credit Card Balance Protection may only maintain the minimum payments on your credit cards. This is usually less than three per cent of the total balance owing. Check before you buy.

 

Credit Card Balance protection... Is it worth it.

 

Credit Card Balance Protection Insurance is expensive when compared to other forms of insurance and it may not cover what you hope it does.

In the event of a job loss or if you become medically disabled, Credit Card Balance Protection may only maintain the minimum payments on your credit cards. This is usually less than three per cent of the total balance owing. Check before you buy.

The average cost is about $1 for every $100 you owe. For instance, with a $3,000 balance, the insurance would cost $30 a month. But, let’s say you spend $1,500 during the billing period, and you pay it off at the end of the month. You may still owe $15 in balance protection! Just like other insurance policies, understand the limitations and conditions of the coverage. 

A better option may be to put what would have been paid in Credit Card Balance Protection fees into your own savings account as a rainy day fund. If carrying a high balance on the credit card, it may also be worthwhile to look at a line of credit to reduce the interest rate.

Condo Corporation Records

Part of the responsibility that a Condo Corporation has to owners is to keep accurate records, including the corporation’s financial records, minutes from owners’ and board meetings, and a copy of the declaration, by-laws and condo rules. With certain exceptions, owners have a right to review corporate records. However, owners must make the request in writing and give reasonable notice. Records may be edited to shield personal information.

Types of records that condo corporations may not have to release to a unit owner include:

 

  • ones that have to do with other owners or specific units
  • details about employees of the condo corporation (except the actual employment contract)
  • actual or pending lawsuits
  • insurance investigations

 

 


April Real Estate Insights


Here for You
Events over the past few weeks are having a tremendous impact on communities throughout our area, across the country and around the world. Roads are virtually empty as people stay home with family or opt to conduct daily business away from a traditional workplace.

With the "new normal" of social distancing and social isolation we've all discovered that doesn’t mean disconnecting, we’ve simply modified how we interact. Yes, as things evolve am also modifying the way I work. So for now, am "virtually" here to help, answer, advise and work for you.

We're all in this together. Let's continue to connect and share a hopeful outlook.


BoC Cuts Once... Cuts Twice... And a Third Time
Over the past few weeks, the ongoing health crisis saw financial markets around the world plummet taking investors on a "wild ride." By mid-March financial markets dropped into "bear territory."

In this uncertain economic climate, major Central Banks around the globe are working together to keep economies and financial systems fluid. It’s a coordinated move by the Bank of Canada, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, and the Swiss National Bank.

In March, the Bank of Canada cut the Key Rate in three separate announcements. It now sits at 0.25%. The next scheduled Bank of Canada announcement is April 15th but as we've seen both the BoC and the U.S. Federal Reserve aren’t waiting to make a move when they feel it's necessary.


"Touchless" Appliances Promote Healthier Kitchens
Today's emphasis on "not touching things" will likely not disappear once this particular health concern is done. "Touchless" reduces the spread of germs, and having hands-free appliances, especially in the kitchen is also a huge convenience.

Voice commanded appliances are also moving into the kitchen. Smart Assistants are now also connected to major appliances like microwave ovens, dishwashers, and stoves.


Cyber-Stealing Can Start With a Typo
Cyber-crooks are getting more sophisticated as they look to take advantage of the increased activity.

They’re putting up websites with a missing or misplaced letter in website addresses you actually wanted, so they can  look like well-known companies, then, they wait for people to make a typo in the web address line.

A common typo is a misplaced or missing "c" on a website address. For example, typing amazonc.om or amazon.om as the URL. It used to be that the typo would simply bring up an error screen and we'd have to re-type the address. These days the typo could lead to a fake website that looks like the place you wanted to get to, but it isn't.

These fake websites seem to be focused on re-directing people to a malware-infested website. Once there, visitors are often prompted to download a risky file that could appear to be something like Adobe Flash Player or JavaScript update. The malware could then give hackers control of your computer and everything on it.

Review the website address carefully before pressing Enter. And if the website you land on looks a little unusual, re-check how you typed the URL.


February Real Estate Insights


Wondering About This Changing Market?
These days, the headlines about the economy as well as the real estate market seem confused and are confusing. Markets Up. Markets down. Markets changed. Markets about to change. Forecasters seem to be hedging bets from quarter to quarter.

While sales volumes are up, there is a lack of "inventory," or homes for sale, in many areas, and tight supply is creating year-over-year gains for home prices. So even in this winter deep-freeze, it may seem a surprise that the market has heat.

Plus, rates continue to trend low with the Bank of Canada’s decision to once again hold the Key Rate at 1.75% on January 22nd. Along with the rate announcement, which kept rates steady for a 10th straight decision, the BoC indicated that the Canadian economy has been strong since October's Monetary Policy Report. The Bank forecasts that the Canadian economy will grow 1.3% in the first quarter of 2020 and expects inflation this year to come in at 1.9%.

Thought of selling? Why chance a "pop" in inventory as the Spring Market approaches? Supply and Demand suggest we review value, activity and opportunity today. Headlines report statistics and trends regionally, but it's the micro-facts of a neighbourhood that confirm today's real value.

Interested in finding out how your place fits today's market? Want to know more about neighbourhood activity? Wondering how to get your home market-ready or looking for buying opportunities? I invite you to call me.


An Easy Solution for Cranky Windows
Winter can be hard on windows. The freeze could have the frame flexing or cause the window sill to sag. And if you have crank-out windows you likely have one that’s difficult to crank-closed properly.

One way to close the window is to have someone on the outside push on the window, and someone on the inside crank the window and lock it.

But there's another way - use a glass suction cup. They’re available online or at many home improvement centres. And you don’t have to spend a fortune, for under $20 you can make closing "cranky" windows a breeze.


Does Your Home Have WiFi Dead Zones?
A WiFi repeater or extender can increase the coverage area of your existing WiFi network. It works by receiving the existing signal, amplifying it and then transmitting the boosted signal. In many cases, a WiFi repeater can effectively double the network coverage area - reaching the far corners of your home or office, different floors, and even extend coverage to your yard.

WiFi repeaters are easy to install. Simply place the repeater in a location that can receive the existing WiFi signal, and plug it in. Then, using a computer or smartphone app, securely connect the repeater to the router using a username and password.

WiFi repeaters are available at your electronics retailer as well as online.


Considering a Condo Apartment?
Consider these factors when evaluating Condominium Suites:

1. Storage Space: Does the suite come with an additional storage locker? Is it easily accessible? Do you own it as a unit, or is it a rental as part of the monthly fee?

2. Parking: Have a car? Does the Condo suite you’re looking at come with a parking space - will it be owned by you, or rented? Is there additional parking available for a second car?

3. Pets: Some Condos don't allow pets. And if they do, be sure to find out what pets, and if there are size restrictions.


Bright New Year! Wonderful New Decade!


It was another wonderful holiday season and everyone seems to be quickly transitioning back into "let’s get it done" mode.

It's a great time to buy and sell a home. For buyers, the winter market can mean having less competition and less competition often means motivated sellers! For sellers, this time of year typically means fewer houses on the market, so a home for sale really stands out. There's also more time to prepare a property for sale and potentially get a better price for it!

The real estate market is always changing. And I am available to answer questions about our overall real estate market and your neighbourhood in particular. I would be very grateful if you shared my contact information with anyone who is thinking of buying or selling a home. In the meantime, enjoy these crisp winter days of 2020!


Simple Steps to a Healthy Winter Home
Cold weather means more time in a closed environment. Ever wanted to make the air inside a little healthier? Think about doing an eco-audit.

Purchase with purpose:
Consider buying environmentally-friendly products that don't release chemicals – known as "off-gassing." Before purchasing drapes, upholstery, carpeting etc. find out if they're treated with stain retarding chemicals. Look for items that have not been treated and ones that are made with organically produced fibers. Composite wood products; vinyl and plastic products; manufactured air fresheners; and candles are also known to release chemicals into the air. Choose solid wood, clean-burning or bees wax candles, and fresh or dried flowers as eco-friendly alternatives.

Ventilate:
Inspect and clean bathroom and kitchen exhaust systems and ensure they actually do vent to the outdoors. If they vent into the attic, you may one day have to deal with a mould issue. Turn on the fans for 30 minutes after showering to reduce excess humidity which can promote mould growth in the bathroom.

Furnace Filter:
Consider installing an electrostatic, electronic or HEPA filter to reduce "dust."

Around the House:
Add Plants. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.


Ring Your Things!
Tile Bluetooth Trackers are a great way to find everything from missing keys, to a lost TV remote. The SmartPhone app makes it easy - just tap the screen and the Tile rings. But what if it's the phone that’s lost? Easy. Double press the button on the Tile to make your phone ring, even when it’s on silent. Tile trackers even work with your smart speaker to make finding stuff even easier.

Tiles can also be used as a virtual leash by sticking one on a pet's collar - the proximity sensor signals an alert if "puppy" wanders out of range.

Check it out: www.thetileapp.com


Signs The Air Ducts Need Cleaning
If you've noticed puffs of dust coming out of an air duct when you turn on the heat. Or you've noticed dust or pet hair in the vent. Or a coating of dust on the grill of the return air register... It might be an indication that the duct work might be due for a cleaning.

Quick Checks:
1. Look inside vent covers to see if it contains dirt or matted dust.
2. Check return air registers for dust buildup.
3. Replace the furnace air filter. If the air filter is clogged, air flow choked! Reduced airflow allows more dust to build up in the return air ductwork.
4. Open the furnace compartment. Examine the blower fan and motor for signs of dust as well as the furnace controls. The more dust, the bigger the problem.
5. Examine the air conditioning coil. If it's dusty or has dust clinging to the walls of the housing, then the air filter isn't working properly.

Duct cleaning is not a do-it-yourself project. This time of year you may be receiving unsolicited calls for duct cleaning. Ask around and call a known company.

Clean ducts keep the air "going with the flow!"


December Insights


We're in The Home Stretch

A new year is on the horizon, and as we enjoy the "indoor season" many of us take the opportunity to reflect on the highlights of the outgoing year. From a real estate perspective there's been plenty of news and opinion as housing markets across the country remain, in many cases, resilient. Yet, some areas continue to ebb and flow in sync with more local events.

Yes, there are positive economic signals here and south of the border. There's an eye on interest rates as the U.S. Fed continues to send mixed signals that their rate cuts are on hold for the time being. On December 4th, the Bank of Canada indicated that Canada's growth performance is as forecast and once again held the Key Rate steady at 1.75%.
 
Yes, it’s a season of celebration. And "home" is where we celebrate. One of the real joys of this time of year is the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family.

Wishing you, your friends and your family a wonderful holiday season. Together, let’s all look forward to a wonderful 2020.

 


Are the Facts Your Credit Score is Built on Correct?
A good Credit Score can make a big difference on the interest you pay when getting a loan. Yes, your Credit Score is important but more important is that the information it's based on is correct. A credit application you make can land in a "higher risk" category because of wrong facts used in building your Credit Score - which could then have you paying a higher interest rate, or even outright refusal of a loan.

Do an annual Credit Report review. If you see a lot of Credit inquiries by lenders or credit card companies, but have done nothing to initiate them, it's a red-flag that your credit profile is likely being scammed.

Fix errors immediately. With data breaches, identity theft, card hacks and card frauds, your Credit Score may be blemished by false or mistaken data – that you don’t even know about. Fixing wrong information is not always easy and it takes time because information needs to be verified as incorrect.

Keeping tabs on your Credit History today can mean smooth sailing instead of a delay to "fix an error" when you decide that it's time for a move or need credit approval in a hurry.

Contact both Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, as each may have different information on file.

Get your Credit Report - Free!
Equifax Canada, 1-800-465-7166, http://www.equifax.ca
Click "Credit Report Assistance" and then click "Get Your Free Credit Report"

TransUnion Canada, 1-800-663-9980, http://www.transunion.ca
Free Report: https://www.transunion.ca/product/consumer-disclosure

There are apps that you can use to get a rough idea of your Credit Score. These apps may also send alerts of Credit Score changes which can help you spot signs of identity theft. Checking your credit on these apps won't affect your score.


Vacation Planning?
Whether you live in a house or a condo, there are a few things to take care of before you head out on vacation:
• Check your insurance policy to see how many days you can be away without it affecting insurance coverage.
• Leave a key with a trusted neighbour or friend so your place can be accessed if necessary. In a condo, make sure the Condominium Management knows who to call in case there’s a need. And leave a phone number where you can be reached.
• If snow is in the forecast, arrange for show clearing or ask a neighbour to drive in an out of your driveway so it looks like there's activity at your place.
• Test the water-leak alarm. If it's battery powered, replace the batteries too.
• Pre-pay monthly expenses such as: cell phone, electricity, taxes, cable, internet, and condominium fees to be sure everything's up-to-date while you're away.
• Set lights and radio on a timer, or if you have a Smart Speaker you can create a Smart Home routine.
• Get a "Fake TV" light. Plug it in, set the timer and the different coloured LED lights flicker with the same kind of pattern that a television makes. It looks like the television is on and to a potential intruder it makes the house an unappealing target. Check out: www.faketv.com


Winter Ice Surprise
Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable, no matter the season, there are items we now know to keep on hand:
• Cash money - ATMs may be down.
• A hand-crank flashlight and hand crank radio.
• Batteries.
• Non-perishable food - snack bars, nuts, canned food.
• Bottled water. Plus, at first sign of utility problems fill some containers with water.
• An "old-fashioned" plug-in phone.

Stuff to know:
• Cell phone networks or individual towers may stop working - their electric supply is usually on the same power grid as the neighbourhood’s.
• Cell phone battery time should be conserved until you locate a recharge station. Invest in a battery power pack or hand-crank battery re-charger.
• When there's a weather warning, fill your gas tank. In a storm, gas stations may run out fast.
• If your Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide alarms are wired-in, be sure to also have battery-powered smoke and CO alarms that can be used in an emergency.

During a winter power outage:
• Keep faucets running at a trickle to prevent water pipes from freezing.
• Unplug appliances & electronics - a power surge, when the electricity returns, may cause damage.
• Switch one light on - to show when power has returned.
• If you use a generator, only operate it in a well-ventilated area. Not inside. Not even in a garage.
• Assume any low hanging or downed line is energized and dangerous.


November Insights


Does the Crisp, Cool Weather Have You Warming-Up To a Move?
Even though the calendar says it's still a month away, the chill means winter is close. And with the cooler days, the warm housing market may have you or people you know thinking about a move.

When talking about real estate, some people search online in the hopes of discovering the ideal place. But there may be a missed opportunity. can help make finding a new place easier. With my market knowledge, it's more efficient and I am a great and knowledgeable tour guide.

Even if a move is not definite yet, and you're just looking for information, I deliver. That's especially important these days as media headlines continue to talk change. No matter what the dreams of "home" are, I am always available to help make sense of the market and build a plan for success.


Candles and Oil Lamp Caution
Candles and oil lamps can create a warm indoor atmosphere. However, with our homes tightly sealed against the chill, remember that there’s not only a danger of fire, there’s also a risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless gas. A working CO detector will keep your family safe. Don't just get it and forget it… test the CO Detector regularly. And read the instructions carefully. Also check the batteries AND replacement date. CO detectors are usually "good" for 5 to 7 years.


Flooring Acoustics
If a Condo Reno includes updating the flooring, the first step is to find out the specific noise-reduction performance guideline for flooring underlayment your building has in place, measured as FIIC (Field Impact Insulation Class).

When evaluating the acoustic membrane options, don't just try and match the building's requirements with the acoustic results published by the product manufacturer.

• Verify the conditions under which the published acoustic tests were performed. And evaluate if your building's floor and ceiling construction match those in the manufacturer’s test.
• Evaluate the type of flooring that will be installed:  glued or floating engineered wood, nailed  hardwood, vinyl, ceramic - all have different acoustic underlay requirements.
• Consider if the type and thickness of the acoustic membrane needed to achieve the building’s noise reduction actually works with the flooring you want. For instance, if the membrane is too thick, soft or dense the mechanical strength may not be enough to "support" the floor, which can lead to expensive failures such as delaminating, cracking or lifting of the floor, potentially voiding the manufacturer's warranty. 

Do the research before installing. Not meeting the building's acoustic criteria could mean an expensive reno re-do, after.


Smart Adapters Connect "Dumb" Appliances
If you're looking to add some "smarts" to small home appliances such as coffee makers, lamps, and TVs a Smart Adapter may be the answer. No re-wiring necessary. Just plug it into a standard outlet and connect it to your Wi-Fi. Then use your SmartPhone to turn it on or off, or if you have a Smart Assistant, use your voice with Alexa or Google.

When considering a Smart Adapter, look for one that offers independent controls for each of the two outlets, has a USB charging port, and has an app that enables you to monitor how much electricity the plugged-in device consumes.


October Realty Insights


Have Real Estate Questions? I Deliver Answers.
As the days get shorter and nights become cooler, now's the time when many people are getting their homes ready for winter. Others are thinking that this is a wonderful season for a move.

Low Mortgage Rates continue to attract buyers. Ongoing trade disputes, "cloudy" forecasts for our economy, and the U.S. Federal Reserve lowering their Benchmark Rate has many economists speculating that the Bank of Canada may move the Key Rate down on October 30th. Many Lenders are already offering Fixed Rate Mortgages below Variable Rate options.

Buying or Selling, you may be wondering how neighbourhood statistics line up with what's happening in the rest of the market. And if you know someone who could benefit from my expertise, please share my name.


Seasonal Reminders
Before the snow flies put the air conditioner cover on. A secure cover will prevent damage from water getting into the delicate fins - freezing, expanding and causing costly, yet preventable damage.

Clocks "fall back" an hour on Sunday, November 3rd. Be sure you change smoke and CO alarm batteries when you change the time.

Replace the furnace filter to keep the furnace working efficiently. Keeping the furnace performing at its peak means more even heat distribution and lower operating cost.

Switch the direction of your ceiling fan. During the winter, the fan should run at a low speed in a clockwise direction. Reversing the fan creates a gentle updraft, recirculating heat down.

Draft-proof around windows and doors. Doing it while the weather is still pleasant means a better seal without the frozen fingers.

Disconnect the hose and turn off the outdoor faucet at the indoor source.

Check the emergency generator so it's ready in the event of a black out. Always run it outside, in a well ventilated area.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save the ash throughout the Winter. Wood ash can be mixed into a compost heap to create a valuable soil addition providing nutrients for the spring garden. Or keep slugs and snails out of the garden by spreading the ash around garden beds.


ENERQi Invisible Fast Wireless Charger
Love the convenience of wireless charging, but dislike the look of the wireless pads... and wires? The ENERQi mounts under the surface of a table, desk, or even a kitchen counter while the phone charges on the surface. Charging up to 40mm away, ENERQi can turn practically any piece of furniture into a Fast Wireless Charging Station. Unveiled at CES in January, this device is scheduled to be released for the holiday season. Find out more at: https://enerqi.co


Free Wi-Fi... Is That a Good Thing?
Local coffee shops and restaurants often advertise "Free Wi-Fi" to entice customers to come in and stay longer. And while Free Wi-Fi can seem like a perk, the local barista is not a security expert, which may leave a user's computer open to hacking. Plus, it's easy for hackers to set up a "fake" connection that may seem to come from the shop but is really in place to steal information from unsuspecting users.


September Realty Insights


Looking To Make A Move?
With all of the mixed media messages, it's no wonder that people often wonder - is now is the best time to get into a new place? While nothing is guaranteed to go straight up, real estate is a proven and predictable investment that appreciates over time.

What makes this a great time to explore real estate opportunities?
1) Over the summer we've seen Fixed Rate Mortgages offered at even more favourable rates, with Big Bank Special Offers featuring rates below their Prime Lending Rate.
 

2) The Bank of Canada Lowered the Benchmark Qualifying Rate on July 17th, giving borrowers a little more leeway to qualify for a mortgage.
 
3) On September 4th, the Bank of Canada announced that it was holding the Key Rate Steady at 1.75%.


Added to these, the U.S Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark rate a quarter point - from the target range of 2.25% to 2.5% to a target range of 2.0% to 2.25% - the first cut in more than a decade. And while the Bank of Canada is unlikely to follow the downward direction on September 4th, the U.S. Fed has certainly set the tone for the next few months.

If you're looking for opportunities in this Autumn market, I am always here to show you, or people you know, a wonderful place to call home right now.

Looking for market knowledge? Call me.

 

 

Heating Season's Coming - Get a Furnace Inspection
Once the cold weather sets in, you want to know the furnace is running reliably. An unexpected breakdown could be more than a chilly night, it may mean frozen water pipes if it happens while you're away. Plus, a well-adjusted heating system saves money on fuel and prolongs furnace life.

Some maintenance is easy, like replacing the filter, however, it’s a good idea to have the furnace professionally inspected and cleaned annually.
It should include:
• Safety test for carbon monoxide (CO)
• Check for debris in the chimney and flue
• Replace air filters
• Check thermostat
• Check and clean gas pilot safety system
• Clean motor and fan
• Clean burners and set for proper combustion
• Check gas connection to furnace

Looking for a heating contractor? Try www.hrai.ca or call toll-free 1-877-467-HRAI. Your connection to the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors of Canada (HRAC).
 


Make Any Window a Fire Escape
Emergency escape ladders are compact and can be used to quickly exit the upper floors of a home. To choose the correct fire escape ladder, determine which windows will be used as emergency exit points and then, for each window, measure the actual height from the window to the ground.

Emergency escape ladders come in a variety of lengths: a 2-storey ladder is about 14 feet long. Plus, they're designed to support different weights.

The roll-up style ladder is compact, so it’s easy to store in a closet, but be sure it’s easily accessible when seconds count.

You'll find them at most home improvement centers.


Is Your Home Empty-Nester Ready?
As the baby-boomer generation ages, sights are set on a different type of home. What's grabbing the attention of these now-getting-older homebuyers?
•    Wider doorways
•    Non-slip floors
•    Lighting, with even distribution
•    Easily accessible electrical outlets and light switches
•    Door levers rather than door knobs
•    Bathroom supports and grab bars in tubs and showers
•    And a big one today, in-house elevators.

YES… today some newly built and/or homes undergoing an extensive renovation are having spaces as small as 5x5 set aside as a roughed-in elevator shaft, for future use.


Summer insights


Happy Summer! 

Golf season, barbeque season, vacation season, friends and family season … with the Canada Day kick-off…yes, it's summer! A time when many of us hit the beach. Some people spend time building sandcastles, and other people build their dream homes in the sand… complete with moat.

When it comes time to buy or sell your own "castle", I am here to assist with a strategic plan and solid negotiating that gets the deal done. It’s important to have a negotiator on your side! A deal can fall apart simply because the two sides don't know how to come together. I look at the deal from various angles. I know where there's "wiggle room" and can guide discussions in your best interest.

The market's normalizing. When you or someone you know is looking for a negotiator, let them know my number. With me, they'll get the results they're after.

 


Cool Tips to Beat Summer Heat 
1) If you haven’t already: change the direction of the ceiling fan. It should rotate counter-clockwise. In this direction, the air is pushed downward creating a wind chill effect that can make you feel as much as 4 degrees cooler than the room actually is.
2) Open windows in the evening to let cool breezes in. Close them and lower the blinds in the morning to keep out the summer sun.
3) Use Power Bars with timers - Keep all unnecessary electronic devices off when not in use. Televisions, computers, and video-game systems are all heat generators. And keep the lights off, too. Even environmentally-friendly LEDs give off heat.
4) Skip the stove. Use the microwave. Better still, the side burner on the BBQ.
5) Get a de-humidifier. Humid air holds heat.
6) Buy a hot water bottle – put it in the freezer to create a bed-friendly ice pack.
7) Choose lightweight cotton bed sheets - they breathe.
8) Use a buckwheat pillow – it doesn't absorb heat like cotton and down.
9) Run kitchen and bathroom fans to move humid air outside.


Condo Buying? Estoppel Certificate 
The Estoppel Certificate is a detailed, disclosure document prepared by a Condominium Corporation that contains information about the financial and legal affairs of the Condominium Corporation. 

Upon request, the Condominium Corporation is obliged to provide the Certificate in connection with a sale. It will detail items such as current common element expenses, planned increases and foreseen repairs; special assessments; any legal action currently being taken against or by the Condominium Corporation; as well as a declaration of by-laws and rules.

And important: It will disclose if there are any unpaid common area expenses owed by the "unit" you are in the midst of purchasing.


Considering a Retractable Screen Door? 
There are many inexpensive options available, from magnet click n' stick to higher-end retractable screens. When it comes to this type of home upgrade, paying more means better performance, as well as options like:
• Pet Resistant Mesh - heavier gauge that resists shredding.
• Deep Track - to securely hold the screen in place.
• Slide Bolt - that holds the in-active side of a French or Double door in place for easier entry and exit.
• Speed Reducer - that slows the return of a retractable screen to its housing. Slower or "controlled" screen retraction speed decreases mechanical stress on the screen and also minimizes the chance of fingers or small hands getting pinched as the screen is retracting.
• Visibility Decals - to prevent someone from accidentally walking into the screen.

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Johnny Uhrl

Work Phone: 9053394614
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