Stingy Jack

October 28th, 2017

Did you know that the original Jack O’Lantern was not a pumpkin at all? You might have known that the tradition, which originated in Ireland, was one of carving turnips and potatoes, rutabaga, gourds and even beets… but did you know that way back in the 15-1600s, the term referred to people and not just vegetables?

For centuries, people told stories meant to explain the ghostly light that is sometimes seen over bogs and swamps. These lights, which have also been called corpse candles, fairy lights, hinky-punks, will-o-the-wisps and fool’s fire, are a result of off-gassing from decaying plant material. It seems that these gases are highly volatile, igniting as they oxidize or contact with heat or electricity.

For century, on All Hallow’s Eve, the Irish would hollow out their veggies and put a wee light inside, to ward off evil spirits… particularly a bad fella by the name of Stingy Jack. Generally described as a blacksmith who enjoyed his drink, Jack was famous for playing tricks on his family and friends. While there are various versions of the story, it is said he once played a joke on the Devil himself.

Apparently, Jack convinced the Devil to climb a tree to pick some fruit. While the Devil was busy climbing up, Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree, preventing the Devil from descending. Jack negotiated the Devil’s release- in exchange for a promise that the Devil would never allow Jack to enter Hell.

Well… Jack was a rather unpleasant and miserable man- so much so that when he died he was turned away from the Pearly Gates by Saint Peter himself… to make matters worse, the Devil kept his word and Jack was left with nowhere to go. It was dark and lonely in the Netherworld between and when Jack asked the Devil how he might find his way, the Devil tossed him a bit of burning ember. Jack dropped the ember into a carved-out turnip and is said to have been wandering, a lost soul, ever since.

The Hostess Mansion?

October 19th, 2017

Iconic magazine founder, Hugh Heffner, died last month at 91- at the place he's called home since 1974.

Built in 1927, the Gothic-Tudor style house has 22 bedrooms within its nearly 22,000 sq ft. Close to Beverly Hills, it’s nestled on 5 acres in the Holmby Hills of Los Angeles, California. Playboy acquired the mansion for 1.1 million dollars and sold it in August of 2016 for $100 million to next door neighbour, Daren Metropoulos, a co-owner of Hostess Brands. The sale contract included a life-lease for Mr. Heffner.

It's unlikely that the famous party palace will be going on the block any time soon. The new owner has expressed an interest in restoring and preserving the magnificent home while there is some talk about making the place a historic landmark.

The original Playboy mansion was a 70-room, limestone and brick, classic French residence in Chicago- a city that was home to Playboy Enterprises from 1953-2012. Built by a prominent surgeon, in 1899, it was purchased by Hefner in 1959, and has since been converted into four luxury condominiums.

More New Mortgage Rules

October 7th, 2017

On January 1st, new mortgage qualification rules will be coming into effect. These rules are being brought forward in an effort to make sure that borrowers can pay their mortgages if (and when) mortgages interest rates climb.

It's no surprise that mortgage rates are expected to go up this year. This change means that all mortgage borrowers will have to qualify at the Bank of Canada's five-year benchmark rate- OR, at their contracted mortgage rate + 2%.

This change will not affect you if you get pre-approved, make refinancing arrangements before the end of the year or sign an Agreement to Purchase before the end of 2017.

Experts suggest that this is likely to affect first-time home buyers the most... effectively reducing their purchasing power. It's expected that about 18 % of buyers will not qualify for their preferred home with these new rules... and that only about half of those people will find their way clear to adjust their budgets AND their expectations. First time buyers need to realize that the mortgage they qualify for and what they want to spend can be very different. These days, lifestyle considerations are very important and buyers may have to make compromises if they want to become home owners. Buying a house is more than making mortgage payment, there are other expenses like insurance, property taxes, utilities like water, sewer, heat and electricity and maintenance.

It's a good idea to have savings of 3 - 6 months that you can hold on to, as well. That's a safety net, in case rates go up or something unexpected happens, like a leak in the roof.

Top 5 Features for Baby Friendly Living

September 28th, 2017

Often, first time Buyers are shopping for a home the is appealing right now, but provides enough space for a bundle of joy- or two. Often, the concern seems to be confined to number of bedroom and it becomes the Realtor's job to explain the desirable features of a family friendly home. Here are my top 5 considerations for potential parents:

#1 on my list is ground level entry, single-story and as few stairs as possible. Sure, you can always block stairs off with baby gates, but they can be a pain when your hands are full and you can't always trust others to close them properly- never mind the mess they can make as you try to affix them to your walls or other surfaces. Crawling babies and adventurous toddlers seem to be drawn to stairs and eliminating the lure will also eliminate potential falls- even the worry of slips and spills.

#2 on my wish list for young families is a fenced yard. Little can be deceivingly fast and there's a certain level of comfort that comes with knowing that they can't travel too far.

#3 is parking. Those fabulous, legislated car seats are heavy... especially when they're filled with a sleeping baby. When you have young children, you travel pretty much every where with luggage and you will feel like you are loading and unloading the car continuously. You need to be close to the car, so you can schlep the groceries and the baby into the house without taking your eyes off them for a second. You really don't want to be lugging the baby through the wind and the rain a whole lot either... so a good private driveway and a garage or carport is a life saver.

#4 is about maintenance. Little people can make some unbelievably ginormous messes... plush white broadloom won't likely last very long and as a parent, you spend a substantial amount of time vacuuming and mopping. Cleanable surfaces and finishes like hardwood or laminates and washable paint are good choices.

#5 is about routines and relaxation. Bath time often becomes a nightly routine. You'll want to have a child-friendly tub and a bathroom big enough for you to hang out in there, too. You won't want to be hiking far from the bath to the change table, to keep your little munchkin warm, so you want that bathroom handy to to their bedroom. What's even better, is if there is a second full bathroom, too... a place where grown ups can take turns relaxing... and having some alone time.

Over 90%

September 15th, 2017

Asked what is more important: location or style, over 90% of Realtors will answer location.

It's really very simple... you can improve the layout or even the size of a house... it's not so easy to remedy issues when it comes down to how or where the home is situated. Sometimes, it is difficult for Buyers to grasp the idea that location is the most significant factor.

For instance, we recently showed the perfect cottage, it had the right amount of bedrooms, beautiful cathedral ceilings, a stunning view, sandy beach, a spacious deck and many other excellent attributes... the only problem was that it was built at the bottom of a dangerously steep hill. We had warned the clients about that, before going. We had also mentioned that the cottage was very close to the area dump, but that hadn't been a deterrent either.

There really wasn't any way to drive to the door of the cottage, without feeling like you could end up swimming. To be honest, you felt like that was a possibility even walking down the hill. It was the middle of the day and the pathway was clear... and it was slightly overwhelming for all of us... and we were all quite mobile. We stood at the top of the hill, talking about back fill and bridges and other possible remedies but it all seemed somewhat overwhelming... not to mention concerns about water run off. As we stood, discussing possible solutions to the access issue, one of the Buyers said that the smell of burning garbage was beginning to upset their stomach and she asked if we could move back inside to continue the conversation.

It was time to explain that properly managed, a landfill operation could continue in the same location for years... and the lights came on.