Category: "Misc. Stuff"

Real Estate Market Update

August 30th, 2010

Economist Adrienne Warne expects Canadian housing prices to flatten for the rest of 2010. New housing prices in June rose 0.1 per cent according to Statistics Canada, following a 0.3 per cent increase in May.

But July's housing starts slipped to 189,200, led mostly by a decline in new single-unit homes, according to numbers released Tuesday by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. The Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday a total of 31,536 homes were sold in July, compared with 33,836 in June. The average price of homes sold in July was $330,351, edging up one per cent from the same month last year. But that was down considerably from the average of $342,662 in June.

Year-to-date transactions are up 5.6 per cent, compared with the first seven months of last year. However, activity rose sharply over the second half of last year and experts aren’t convinced that is going to happen this year.

New supply continued to adjust to lower demand. The seasonally adjusted number of new residential listings declined by 7.2 per cent in July 2010, compared with June.

“While the average home sale price was higher in July than one year ago, prices will inevitably fall in response to a large oversupply of homes on the market," says Queen’s University professor John Andrew.

“It looks like anyone who wanted to buy a house this year in Canada got their shopping done early," said Doug Porter at BMO Capital Markets.

The Canadian Real Estate Association predicts a fall in the supply of homes in Canada coming onto the market is expected to spearhead a rise in Canadian property prices, but also lead to a decline in sales transactions. However, Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, says "An expected increase in the supply of homes on the market will now bring stabilization in prices and in some cities, we will see both prices and unit sales decline towards the end of the year. This should not be interpreted as a severe correction, but rather a natural reaction to the market having peaked quite early this year."

Georges Pahud, CREA president, said: “The Bank of Canada recognizes that inflation remains well contained and that economic growth will soften, so interest rates will rise slowly and at a measured pace, which will keep home financing within reach for many homebuyers.

Queen’s University real-estate expert John Andrew thinks the typical seasonal slowdown in late October and November will be even sharper this year. He says those months could prove the best time for a buyer to strike a deal.

Opportunists who were looking to take advantage of fire-sale prices and desperation sales in the spring have given up and generally, once Labour Day is out of the way, serious buyers who put their plans on hold during the summer will begin to move forward. Still, with fewer buyers around, the market tends to be more balanced and fair. Fall has always been a busy time in this area.

Statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) say the average house price has climbed 110% over the past 10 years. During the same period, the S&P/TSX composite index had a total return of about 40% AND there are now 100,000 realtors in Canada compared with 63,950 a decade ago.

Fake real estate agent gets 15 months in jail

BARRIE - An Alliston man will be spending the next 15 months in jail for trading in real estate without being registered and for defrauding potential investors of $90,000.

Terry Graham, previously of Oro-Medonte, pleaded guilty in April to eight counts of trading in real estate while unregistered and eight counts of failing to deposit trust money.

Graham was also wanted on a bench warrant after failing to appear on two similar charges in Mississauga last week.

He was sentenced in Barrie Tuesday for breaching the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBA).
His case began in October 2008, when he was charged with six offences. The Real Estate Council of Ontario – which is responsible for administering the REBA – issued an advisory shortly after, and public response led to additional complaints and charges.

“I think it’s important that consumers were not able to recover their deposits, because Mr. Graham was not registered (to practice real estate),” said the real estate council’s lawyer Tim Snell.
All registered real estate professionals in Ontario must complete an educational program and take updated courses, as well as participate in RECO’s insurance program, which offers protection for consumers’ deposits in the event of fraud, insolvency or misappropriation.

Because Graham was not registered, he was not insured.

Consumers affected by him, therefore, could not claim losses, though the court has ordered he pay restitution.

The real estate council has a search feature on its website (www.reco.on.ca), so consumers can check whether or not a person is a registered real estate professional, meets educational criteria and is covered by insurance.

Snell asked the court to sentence Graham to 18 to 20 months in jail, which is almost the maximum allowed under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act. Graham must also serve two years probation after his release.

Sentencing relating to the Mississauga charges is pending

On With The Show

August 12th, 2010

This evening, just after sunset, Southern and central Ontario, weather permitting, should provide the most spectacular cosmic alignment of planets sprinkled with shooting stars. Yup, hundreds of shooting stars are expected to streak across the sky!

The best viewing time for the shooting stars is between midnight and dawn.... but the planetary alignment will begin right at sunset. If you look low in the westerly sky at sunset and you will begin to see Venus, Saturn, Mars and the waxing crescent Moon within 10 degrees of each other. This should remain visible until about 10 p.m.

Then, as the skies darken, starting around 10:30 p.m., the Perseid shower should kick into full flight and carry on until dawn.

If you wish to spend just one stretch of time meteor-watching, set your alarm for around 3 a.m.

Star-gazers are saying this should be one of the best displays of the Perseid meteor showers for some years because they coincide with an, essentially, moon-free night (the skies will be darker than usual) AND because we will be passing through a denser patch of Swift-Tuttle's dust stream than usual. The Swift-Tuttle comet is the largest object known to make repeated passes near Earth. Its nucleus is about 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) across, roughly equal to the object that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Comets are big snowballs of ice, dirt, pebbles and gravel, and they evaporate every time they go around the sun and leave behind all these little bits.As the debris hits the atmosphere it burns up in streaks of light. The Perseids appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, which rises high in the sky around midnight and is nearly overhead by dawn.

Perseid meteoroids (which is what they're called while in space) are fast. They enter Earth's atmosphere (and are then called meteors) at roughly 133,200 mph (60 kilometers per second) relative to the planet. Most are the size of sand grains; a few are as big as peas or marbles. Almost none hit the ground, but if one does, it's called a meteorite.

“A very good shower will produce about one meteor per minute under a dark country sky,” observatory astronomers say. The annual August Perseid is among the strongest cascades of the year, and tonight it’s at its height. The best viewing locations will be in the Northern Hemisphere, away from the city lights and you can expect to see 75-100 meteors an hour!

Break out the reclining chair, or a rug or blanket outside.... according to the National Geographic, the best way to watch the show is by simply lying back on the ground or in a chair and watch with the naked eye. Doctors will warn you not to just look up, because you can get a crick in the back your neck if you watch for long!

Scan as much of the sky as possible. The meteors can appear anywhere, heading in any direction. If you trace their paths backward, they'll all point to the constellation Perseus.

what's up with the rural/recreational market?

July 24th, 2010

A recent Washington Post article declares that prices have dropped to a point where the emotional benefits of homeownership outweigh potential losses from further price declines.

And a recent Toronto Globe and Mail article said this:

Ontario is in the midst of an "impressive" economic recovery driven by government stimulus, a pickup in auto manufacturing and a hot real estate market, BMO Nesbitt Burns says. "In fact, the recovery has been so potent that the province, which had been Canada's economic whipping boy throughout the recession, has now moved to the top of the pack on a number of indicators," economist Robert Kavcic said in a research note today.

Country real estate is seen as a world away from the noise and congestion of urban life and recent Royal LePage and ReMax surveys contend that the Canadian rural/recreational market is seen as being reasonably priced compared to other countries.

We all know that it really feels great to just sit by the water in a special place. People still want a property in cottage country. Recently, unprecedented market conditions included a severe shortage of listing inventory and in the past few years, Seller’s prices that had climbed have simply returned to calm. Yes, some prices may have dipped, but they’ve settled now, so don’t look for them to crash. Inventory is better and luxury properties, in particular, are selling well.

Now, it’s as easy as ever, to enjoy some of the finer things in life... like sunsets, the way the sunlight plays in the ripples on a lake, the sound of loons. People are pulling their heads out of the sand and ignoring negative press... as one Realtor put it, “Lots of expensive homes have been bought and sold, and those people don't buy if the economy is in trouble.”

Purchasing a cottage is like buying the complete lifestyle vacation package, every bit as much as it is a sound real estate investment. The most important ingredient seems to be a place to have a peaceful place for family time and truly break all connections with the city, while being only a few hours from home. Psychologists will tell you, that parenting is easier in this kind of setting, too!

Canadians' dream of owning a cottage or other piece of recreational property just won't die, regardless of the state of the economy, rising taxes and interest rates, and more stringent mortgage requirements.

&, as tragic as the April 20 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico might be, it is causing a slight increase in the number of tourists who are coming to cottage country, as they decide to bask in the sun in this area rather than the south. After all, we do have 4 season activities... in winter, you can luge, ski, skate, snowmobile, dog sled, ice fish, build snowmen or cuddle by the fire!

There’s nothing sweeter than a dark sky and quiet. Just the sound of a frog or two. Yup, they aren’t kidding when they say it’s an emotional thing.... which is one of the most difficult hurdles during the property search. I find that most people have a difficult time articulating what “their” rural home or cottage is like... I mean, the one they dream about... the one that they imagine is their place.

I find that once I spend a little time with folks, it’s easier to narrow down their choices and I love finding them the right spot, at the right place, with the right terms! It’s so very satisfying.

A Peek At Home Trends

July 14th, 2010

Small is the new big. Spaces that are easier to maintain, keep clean and heat are the hottest in home trends. Everyone's recalibrating. Watch the horizon for smaller homes and the trend continue, toward greener, more sustainable buildings. Amenities override size on the priority list and, in general, consumers want a home that is cosier, more organized and more economical in terms of operating costs.

Today’s home buyers really do think about their carbon footprint and plan ways to save on utility bills. They ultimately want their home to be energy efficient. Low E Glass, R 38 insulation, high efficiency AC systems, passive solar orientation, solar panels, energy rated appliances, tankless water heaters, and LED lighting are some of the basics that buyers hope to find.

Basements have become entertainment showplaces, where custom built-in bars, theatre areas, exercise rooms and guest suites give friends and family an open invitation to stay for a while. Homes have become a source of entertainment for owners who have traded a night on the town for take-out and a movie on the flat screen. Sellers who don't have a finished basement should consider clearing the space and putting a good paint on the floor.

Consumer interest delves into things far more technical, as today's Buyers are concerned about how construction materials were made, and the energy cost of transporting them. Today’s buyers prefer locally made or recycled products that are eco-friendly to produce, and safe to have in their homes. Insulation made from old blue jeans is a perfect fit! Open floor plans are sought after.

Boomers and Millenials are driving the demand for smaller, smarter homes designed to function more efficiently with no wasted space and plenty of room for storage. They want high-tech features, open floor plans and spaces to enjoy outdoor living. They are also buying before they get married and are willing to buy higher density/smaller homes.

New alternative energy sources are no longer frightening. People are eager to see "off the grid" housing. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are trending in... indoor fireplace are trending out. Sellers should make a fire pit in their yard, if they have space.

Two-story family rooms are out... the demand for accessible homes is on the rise and the kitchen is the new family room. Transformed from a room in which only family sit or cook food in- the kitchen is now a place of gathering and entertainment.

Products and furniture green or recycled materials are becoming more popular. Natural materials such as wood, bamboo and cork, combined with paints and varnishes with low volatile organic substances. This not only improves the atmosphere at home, but also plays a role in the conservation of nature. The same goes for appliances, even taps- people are looking for water saving as well as electricity saving devices.

Stainless steel and granite surfaces are out....while there is a move toward a surface’s visual impact, including color, sheen and special effects – today's consumer loves the unusual, such as sparkle, metallic and pearlescent effects – which define the look and feel of an object.

Sherwin Williams says:
… a million glittering pinpoints of light, glints redolent of precious metals … innovative trend stylings which contain brand-new, literally scintillating effects never before seen, bringing luxury to any surface …
… new directions for red, whether fire engine or Ferrari, the color which most attracts attention … now, the most penetrating color gets a new twist! …
… gleaming reflections in everything from bronze to pewter … mirrored accents bestow luxury and stylish refinement …
astonishing shades enhancing the look of an object and adding sparkle … rich and unique effects … fiery, glowing reds to rich browns with inner orange flashes, highlighting shape and design …
… intriguing surface stylings featuring colors and effects overlaid on the intrinsic beauty of “exposed” carbon fibre weave patterns – made possible by new advances in protection technology

.

Beautiful and timeless, white kitchen cabinets are the most popular and flexible choice for the kitchen – that combine great color with different shades of the furniture and various architectural styles of the room. Besides all this, the white color makes the room a light and spacious, and you can safely add a brighter color on the walls. Oak cupboards have made a bit of a comeback, too.

Home decor is leaning toward themes of nature, ethnic colors, casual chic and cheerful tones. Tuscan is over, today we want neutrals combined with soft, pale pastels plus urban darks. Gray, navy, light camel and olive are joined by white, pale heather, soft rose, pistachio tint, aqua, lemon and pink. Warm buff and pebble colours are in, blued grays, lavender and yellowed greens are popular.

Sofas and chairs that aspire to be quaintly “cottage” by combining two or more fabrics—like a cabbage-rose print on the seat cushions and another pattern on the back or arms are OUT and we're trending toward simple, plain, minimalistic furnishings. Natural fibres are popping up in many catalogs with pieces made from materials like woven sea grass and abaca.

Designers lean toward geometric shapes, fine materials- often sparkling and advise that homeowners never exaggerate the palette of color. Continuity between inside and outside is to be considered, too. Simple is the new elegant.

Seems we are simplifying and going more natural in most directions... on the hairstyle front, for instance, the craze for super-long locks is diminishing and hair extensions are dialling back... we can expect to see lots more curly styles in the coming year. In 2011 hairstyles are full of movement and will mix textures and effects with a combination of softness and provocation. Styling becomes airy light and magical, irregular or geometric.

For longer hair affectionados, braids are the biggest upcoming trend. Falling in two distinct camps: 1/ tight and sleek like state-of-the art hair architecture and 2/ the surfer chic version, loosely worn in matte, roughly textured plaits snaking over the shoulders – NO gloss spray. Yup, and 2011 hairstyles are all about being shorter, bold and strong. With styles that have the tendency to be tapered and light, strong and delicate, composed of disorganized harmony and mixed colors.

In the fashion world look for more smart fibre blends and new finishing techniques; with an emphasis on performance. Today's fabrics are supple and have comfort stretch. Red will definitely be the main color for fall/winter this year. The industry claims that they are experiencing a most demanding design direction with its apparently contradictory, subtle mixtures of authenticity and the new modernity. The consumer, in all areas of life, is seeking a comforting bit of nostalgia, mixed with new demands for high-performance, social responsibility and quality.

Today's Buyer is willing to put the effort into restyling for the sake of performance and responsibility... although most home Buyers today are looking for a comfortable, smaller home that utilizes space to the max, a home that encompasses some of today's trends will be seen as a more attractive purchase. Buyers will look for "found space", so Sellers should tidy up underutilized areas such as basements, attics, garages which Buyers see as space that can be repurposed into functional and stylish rooms...

after all...home ownership is still seen as a rite of passage, an expression of independence... and home ownership is, in many cases, the primary source of a household's net worth and the fundamental first step toward accumulating wealth – it is one trend that's here to stay.

Graduate

June 26th, 2010

It's hard to believe... but my little girl has completed high school! They aren't kidding when they say they grow up fast!!!

It seems like it was just yesterday....
Catherine Elizabeth Stewart (Katie) came to join us

Then, not even a year old... she started walking AND talking! & she loved to visit the zoo....

She was born independent!

She began driving, before she was 2

Then, it was time for her first day of school....

where she accumulated many friends and fans... and got excellent grades...

and she got a lot of practice speaking in front of groups and being on stage...

she mc'd the grade 8 graduation, the year before her own... and she was Miss Bancroft... and Miss Pioneer... and she won numerous poetry contests... and volunteered for all kinds of stuff!!!

Then, she went on to high school... and became more worldly...

and joined the improv team....

and started working at a local jewellry store of her own volition, at the age of 15

she also got involved at the Village Playhouse....

in various different roles....

and made some good friends...

lots of them... especially during the 4 years of improv....

she did a fabulous job as Erma in NHHS's musical theatre production of Anything Goes (singing and dancing, too) ... getting special notice on the radio... and special attention from the crowd!

Oh... did I mention that she never gave me any problems and always made me proud?

Recently, she went to her prom, with one of her bffs...

Her boyfriend showed up later (his prom was the same night... a nearby town, but different high school)...

and next week... she is Valedictorian at the Commencement Ceremony...

Her grades are near to perfect... and she is a joy, indeed...Fabian and I are so proud... her grandparents (John and Pat Noyes of Bancroft & John and Ellen Stewart of Lindsay) are proud and her father Patrick and his wife are, too....

and next year... she's off... to Queen's... we're going to miss her and all the crazy stuff she does around here...

CONGRATULATIONS KATIE!

addendum:

Last evening, June 29, 2010 we enjoyed the commencement ceremonies at North Hastings High School...

Katie gave a moving Valedictorian Address...

AND took away a number of awards...

The Dramatic Arts, University Preparation Award

A North Hastings High School Scholarship (for a student who excels in academics)

The Principal's Award for Studen Leadership (for a senior student who displays outstanding leadership throughout the school community)

A Quinte Arts Council Bursary (for students who have demonstrated active involvement in the arts both within their school and the wider community)

The Magister Award for Top University-bound student (yes, she got the top marks for six grade 12 courses, all at university level)

The Bancroft Theatre Guild Appreciation Bursary

An "Ontario Scholars" certificate

The Level 3 House Award

Member of the Honour Society

and we're not even touching on the Wasmund Family Memorial Scholarship that she's been awarded!