It's Smart to Buy a Home in the Winter

November 24th, 2017

Don't let the weather stop you from looking for a new home in cottage country this year... here's why:

It may be the perfect opportunity for you to find a Realtor to help you. Frequently we see a bit of a lull at the start of winter, a large portion of our local population heads south- so local sales people should have more time to devote to you.

Many people believe that Sellers are more motivated in the winter... and that might be true... there's a certain sense of impatience for people, when dealing with changing weather.

It's easier to book tradespeople... with fewer folks around, there are less service calls, so you are likely to have less of a wait to get estimates for renovations or home inspections, etc.

Moving can be cheaper... many moving companies and truck rental agencies offer discounts in the off-season and, it's generally much easier to book then, too.

"Apps" Used to Mean Crudites

November 15th, 2017

I don't understand why I am supposed to be tuned into technology. I grew up with computers... I can talk about the physical, contextual and associative value(s) of the historic IBM buildings at 844 Don Mills Rd and 1150 Eglinton Ave East... a great deal of my life experience connects with that part of Toronto...

Not even a teenager, I played PONG when it was released... about 1972, at the Funland Arcade. I was working with computers by 1975... I was there when banks transitioned, away from manual ledgers. My Dad brought home a Tandy 1000 and a Commodore 64, the first year they were released. I have played the first generation of atari, nintendo, sega during their first generations.

I steadily used a home computer through the 80s, for both accounting and writing... and I survived the VHS/BETA war. I had a car phone in the 80's, was on the internet in the mid-90s... and was the first local realtor to have a web site- it was 1996... I believed the internet was going to rule the future.

I never liked using a pager but made the transition to cell phone... reluctantly. & right now, I believe that I could give up my cell phone... but I'm not sure about the internet. The thing about cell phones is that you have to carry them... and you have to charge them... and you have to check them... and then, there's all those apps...

I don't want to like apps. In my day, you drank wine with your apps... frequently at Harbourfront and you had brilliant conversation, with even more brilliant and talented friends and acquaintances, while you ate apps...

Those were the days.

I admit that I have fumbled with texting- on various keyboards available on a cell... and I've made some calls... although I still have nightmares involving such attempts...
and I've tried not to find any reason to like cell phones... except that recently

I've found myself envious of people who make good use of phone apps... maybe a couple of times. They make it look so much easier than opening a browser and searching.

Of course most of them have awesome tips, like "organize your apps display"... "use a mix of icons and folders for your apps"... "organize your apps folders by theme" ... "just keep everyday apps on your home screen"... "don't keep apps you don't use"... "delete prearranged apps"... and "apps are there for your convenience".

I've tried a couple of that kind of app... but not enough to be able to identify every day ones... and I'm wondering if this is where I draw the line?

Is the Dream Fading?

November 9th, 2017

Last month, the Vice-President of CMHC said “The dream of home ownership may be fading for many Canadians”. He suggested long-term renting was the solution.

The problem is that the cost of land… AND building materials has gotten so high that prices have escalated substantially, making them less affordable for millenials. In some areas, prices for vacant land has pretty much tripled over the last five years… and this trend is pushing into resale markets, as well.

In many GTA suburbs, the price of land is currently about half the price of a home, up from about a third 5 or 6 six years ago. With more people seeing the need to move to urban centres in search of jobs, the demand for affordable housing is rising higher and with tougher mortgage rules on the horizon and drastic increases in utility costs, the likelihood of homeownership is slowly drifting out of reach… and worse, the cost of rental housing is being affected, as well.

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.