At Home With Barbara and Ashley Survey Results

In November, 2018 we asked you to participate in our “At Home with Barbara and Ashley Survey.” We had 45 people complete the questionnaire. Here are the results.

Question 1: Would you prefer a walk-in shower or a bath tub?

67% of respondents preferred to have a walk-in shower.

Question 2: How much more would you expect to pay for another garage bay? ($1,000 - $8,000)

Based on the responses, the average was:

$4,240

Question 3: How much more would you expect to pay for an in-ground pool? ($1,000 - $8,000)

Based on the responses, the average was:

$5,200

Question 4: How many bedrooms do you need in a home?

60% of respondents said they only needed 3 bedrooms.

Question 5: Is a basement bedroom of value to you?

61% of respondents said "Yes."

Question 6: What interior paint colour will you paint your next home?

36% of respondents said a shade of grey. Responses also included generic "Neutral tones."

Barbara and Ashley's Refer a Friend Program - $500 Donation to BIC Church

One of our happy clients recently referred a friend as part of Barbara and Ashley's Refer a Friend Program. In addition to providing top notch service and helping this new client find their dream home, we also made a donation of $500 to the BIC Church in Port Colborne which was the charity of the referrer's choice.

The BIC church in Port Colborne is more than just a church. They offer many programs throughout the community to people of all ages. They value  integrity in relationships and mutual accountability in an atmosphere of grace, love, and acceptance. They were thrilled to receive this donation and will be using it to purchase new equipment for their youth programs.

Wondering how you can help your community? If you can think of anyone in the area who might be interested in moving in the near future, please refer them to us.  If they list or buy with us, upon the successful completion of their sale, we will make a $500 donation to the charity of your choice, providing you with the charitable tax receipt.

Niagara Region Residential Home Sales Statistics for December, 2018

For the Niagara Region: 01-Dec-2018 to 31-Dec-2018 vs. Same Time Last Year*

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As seen in the above charts, the real estate market in the Niagara Region is very stable. The number of sales year over year are consistent and generally the prices are increasing at a steady rate. Looking at the December comparison chart, although there are significant swings in several municipalities, when looking at the annual averages (2018 versus 2017) the data shows a steadier market. Only Niagara-on-the-Lake and West Lincoln have shown an annual average drop in sales prices and that can be misleading due to the small sample size and number of sales.

The market is balanced, which is good news for both buyers and sellers. It is a great time to upsize or downsize your home. To learn more about how the market might affect you contact Ashley Czinege or Barbara Grumme for a no obligation, no charge consultation.

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The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls in December 2018 has continued the trend of being higher. The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls has been consistently higher than last year’s prices for the past 7 months. This is a trend that is likely to continue with a moderate, but steady increase in home values.

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The annual average number of days on market in Niagara Falls is 36 with a slightly slower December which is historically consistent with previous Decembers. The spring 2017 was a very active market, but it has evened out to a steady pace. This is great for people who are looking to sell and buy a new property, giving you time to find the right property for you.

*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

Checklist for Home Renovations

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The start of a new year is a great time to delve into your to-do list and start crossing things off before the motivation starts to slip. Your home reno to-do list might look overwhelming and scary but don’t let the unfinished jobs of 2018 haunt you. Follow this checklist so you can prioritize your home renovations.

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1. Initial Assessment

Clean out anything you don’t need so you can properly assess what needs to be done. This includes getting into the deep, dark corners of your cupboards to check for mold and water damage.

2. Safety First

As nice as it is to dream about that new kitchen backsplash, safety should take top priority when planning renos. Go through this list to see what your top priorities should be:

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3. Develop a Budget

Now that you know what the damage is, establish your budget for repairs. Be realistic and factor in that home renos often cost more than what you originally budgeted for. Remember, you don’t have to fix everything this year, focus on the most important repairs for 2019.

4. Assess your abilities

We are all for DIY but there are some projects you simply shouldn’t do yourself. Decide what you can do yourself and what should be done by a contractor. It can be hard to know what to look for in a good contractor so here is a list of questions to ask a contractor before you hire them:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?

  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?

  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?

  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

  • How flexible are their work schedules?

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5. Enjoy the “fun stuff”

Once all the important projects are taken care of and it’s time for the fun stuff like remodeling and decorating. For a quick but dramatic change, paint/ wallpaper an accent wall. Cleaning/ dusting will work absolute wonders to brighten your house and it won’t cost you a dime.

 
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6. Remember a post-project analysis

The reality of home renos is that the work is never done. Take note of how much you spent on each project and the date that you completed the renovation. For DIY projects evaluate the time, effort and money spent on the project and assess if next time you should invest in a contractor. If you hired a professional, do a thorough evaluation of the work and projected vs. real costs. Write your post-project analysis down and keep it safe for the next reno so you don’t make the same mistakes twice!

5 Ways to Prepare Your Home to Sell in 2019

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­­­It takes time to prepare your home for the marketplace. Here are 5 ways to get your home market ready, attract buyers and fetch your best market price with the fewest hassles.

1. Stage Your Home for Maximum “Showability”

This includes cleaning and getting rid of clutter; depersonalizing by removing an over abundance of family photos; decorating inexpensively such as applying a fresh coat of paint as it can make a big impact; performing maintenance and repairs on the home’s systems (plumbing, heating, air, etc.); and maintaining your home’s exterior curb appeal by keeping the lawn cut and trimmed, even touching up exterior paint.

2. Prepare for a Home Inspection

This step is important because a home inspection can cause a buyer to change his mind or ask for a price reduction. Here are just a few of the items from our 29-point checklist. Divert all water away from the house by making sure the grading slopes away from the house and all downspouts and drains are in proper working order. Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around the trim, chimney, windows and doors. Avoid quick, cheap repairs as they can raise questions, unfairly causing great concern to buyers and inspectors.

3. Perform Prelisting Research

A good agent will take the time to make sure important aspects of the home are properly researched. Here are a few of the questions that need to be answered to create transparency and a sale that closes with the fewest hassles, if any. Are the legal description and property taxes correct? Is the lot rectangular or irregular? Are there any encroachments, registered easements, or rights-of-way? Are zoning regulations and uses complied with? Are there any conditional sales contracts, leases, rental agreements or service contracts for furnace, alarm system, hot water tank, propane tank, etc.? If you made any renovations, additions or improvements to the property, was a building permit obtained and has a final inspection been approved? Are you aware of any deficiencies with any fixtures and appliances?

4. Price the Home to Attract Qualified Buyers

A good agent will take an upfront approach when pricing your home to achieve best market price, and will take steps to determine if buyers are ready, willing and financially able to buy. He/she won’t under-price the home, or over-price the home scaring buyers away. He/she will properly research comparable sales and competing listings, then combine experience with appropriate valuation methods. Aside from market conditions, your motivation or reason for selling is a key to your setting a competitive price.

5. Choose the Agent

The importance of a good salesperson has already been mentioned. Moreover you want a full time professional to represent you, one who will provide an array of marketing tools, possess market and product knowledge and employ good negotiating skills on your behalf. You want an agent that is patient, flexible and a good listener, a pro you can count on, and who will cooperate fully with all REALTORS® and their buyers.

Contact Barbara Grumme or Ashley Czinege for your no obligation, free market assessment of your property.

Ashley and Barbara Donate to Heartland Forest

Heartland Forest is a nature education centre whose mission is to provide an interactive nature experience for all, building lifelong connections with nature through dynamic and inspiring programs. With a goal of preservation and sustainability they engage the hearts and minds of their staff, volunteers and visitors.

This year, Barbara Grumme and Ashley Czinege had one of the programme groups create artwork that were used in the creation of Niagara Executive Homes’ holiday cards. In return, Ashley and Barbara donated $1 for every card they sent out to Heartland Forest.

Heartland Forest is a valuable member of the Niagara Falls community and if you would like to find out more about them, visit the nature trails or make a donation, please visit their website at: www.HeartlandForest.org.

Niagara Region Residential Home Sales Statistics for November, 2018

For the Niagara Region: 01-Nov-2018 to 30-Nov-2018 vs. Same Time Last Year*

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As seen in the above chart, the real estate market in the Niagara Region is very stable. The number of sales year over year are consistent and generally the prices are increasing at a steady rate. The drop in average sales price in four of the municipalities this month compared to the same time last year is not completely representative of the general market. Though there is some balancing out in some areas, sometimes the average prices can be skewed depending on what did or did not sell in a particular month.

The market is balanced, which is good news for both buyers and sellers. It is a great time to upsize or downsize your home. To learn more about how the market might affect you contact Ashley Czinege or Barbara Grumme for a no obligation, no charge consultation.

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The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls has been consistently higher than last year’s prices for the past 6 months. This is a trend that is likely to continue with a moderate, but steady increase in home values.

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The number of days to sell a residential property in Niagara Falls has been relatively consistent over the past 12 months. The feverish market in the spring of 2017 has calmed and on average, your home in Niagara Falls will sell in approximately 38 days. This is great for people who are looking to sell and buy a new property, giving you time to find the right property for you.

*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

Holiday DIY Decorations

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Get creative this Christmas and try making your own holiday decor/gifts. These three DIYs are easy and quick to make, plus they will make you look a Pinterest master! Are you ready to impress your friends and family?

Let’s get started!

Photo courtesy of Oana Befort

Photo courtesy of Oana Befort

1. Homemade wrapping paper

With wrapping paper this cute, you could wrap up a lump of coal and people will still love it!

Materials:

  • 1 roll of craft paper (whatever colour you like but we recommend brown for a rustic look)

  • Potatoes (we will explain later)

  • Paint

  • Any stencils or designs you would like to use ( leaves, doilies, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Lay out your craft paper on a long table or on the floor

  2. Cut potatoes in half and the cut out the design you want on the potato so it acts like a stamp (stick to simple designs like stars and hearts)

  3. Choose your paint colours and dip the potato stamp in the paint to decorate the paper

  4. Get as creative as you like, you can write messages on the paper or just do simple designs

  5. Wrap up your gifts and don’t forget a cute bow!

Photo courtesy of RHBaby and Child

Photo courtesy of RHBaby and Child

2. Mitten Advent Calendar

How is it that, by the end of winter, you somehow end up with at least 5 mismatched mittens? This idea let you take all these sad, single mittens and put them to good use.

Directions:

  1. Collect all your old mittens (with any luck you won’t have to buy a few more pairs!).

  2. Once you have your 24 mittens, number them and hang them along a railing or bannister.

  3. Put a little gift or chocolate in each mitten for an advent treat each day!

Photo courtesy of Tim & Mary Vidra

Photo courtesy of Tim & Mary Vidra

3. Wine Bottle Holiday Lights

This cute wine bottle light makes for a beautiful decoration-- plus it is a great excuse to drink wine!

Directions:

  1. Peel the labels off an old wine bottle and clean the bottle ( we recommend using a mix of green and clear bottles as it looks very festive).

  2. Place battery operated fairy lights in bottles.

  3. Group the lights together and enjoy a beautiful, cheerful glow.

Is Cannabis Still a Stigma When Buying?

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What is a Stigmatized Property?

In real estate a stigmatized property can be one that buyers, even tenants, may reject, prefer to avoid or devaluate for reasons not related to its physical condition. Stigmas can include murder, suicide, any criminal activity and some negative public perception not related to a home’s physical condition.

Despite the legalization of marijuana many sellers and buyers view it as a negative. According to a recent survey:

  • 64% of Sellers felt that smoking marijuana in the home would harm its resale value and 57% believe growing the legal limit of four plants would impact on their home’s value negatively.

  • 52% of Buyers said they would not consider buying a home that grew the legal limit.

So, smoking and/or growing cannabis in a home is viewed as a stigma for a majority of buyer and sellers.

Built-in Protections

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More and more, brokerages include a typical clause in agreements in which sellers represent and warrant that during their ownership, the buildings and structures on the property have not been used for the growth or manufacture of illegal substances. We have amended the clause to include the growth or manufacture of legal substances as a reference to marijuana’s new status and its continued negative perception with both buyers and sellers.

How Does This Warranty Effect Rental Property?

As or April 1st, 2018, landlords must use the new mandatory lease agreement for any tenancy from that date forward. Ontario also gives landlords the option to include as a schedule to the new agreement that can include a clause that prohibits the smoking, vaping or growing of cannabis. This restriction, however, cannot be added to tenancy agreements existing prior to April 1.

The Warranty When Selling Income Property

Recently an offer to purchase was presented on a four-unit apartment that included the clause referenced above about the property not being used for the growth or manufacture of legal or illegal substances. As part of the counter offer, the seller and his lawyer deleted the clause for valid reason. As rental units the seller was unaware of the tenants’ activities regarding cannabis. What’s more, with legalization, tenants with rental agreements prior to April 1 are entitled to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, and the landlord has little recourse if any.

Enforcement of Legal or Illegal Limits

Even if a new mandatory lease were in place that included the cannabis restriction, how could a seller warrant that the tenant did not abuse the agreement? It would be risky to do so as enforcement by the Seller is not easy.

Even enforcement by the landlord of limiting growth to four plants might be difficult in some instances.

5 Tasks for a Holiday Ready Home

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With the holidays upon us, it’s time to get your home looking and feeling festive. Here are the five must do’s to get your home holiday ready:

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1. Entrance First

Make a great first impression with a beautiful holiday entrance. Make your own wreath (or buy one if you’re short on time) to display on your front door. Decorate your front entrance way so guests feel instantly festive once they walk in the door. It can make all the difference!

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2. Prepare for elderly guests and babies

One of the nicest things about the holidays is having several generations of friends and family under one roof. Get some baby toys in if you have some little guests coming and ensure that your house is accessible for elderly visitors to prevent any accidents.

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3. Clean the fridge and oven

Both of these seem like small simple things but will make a big difference when you’re cooking and then after the holidays. Your fridge and your oven will be the two busiest spots in your kitchen over the holidays so keep them clean to avoid less clean up post holidays.


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4. Meal Prep

We all focus on the big meals over the holidays but it is easy to forget to stock up on ingredients for the day to day meals. Before all your guests arrive, plan ahead and cook up a week’s worth of food for the freezer so you will always have back up!

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5. Holiday scents

The easiest and best way to get your house ready for the holidays is to get it smelling like the holidays. Use essential oils such as balsam needle, eucalyptus, citrus, cloves and vanilla to create your own holiday scent.


Case Study: Disclosure of Leak and Remedies

A Leak was Discovered, Corrected and Disclosed

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After the deal was firm, the seller noticed a water leak in the basement. He then discovered a crack in the basement wall and had it corrected with a 25-year transferable warranty to the buyers. The insulation on half the height of the basement wall was partially removed and subsequently taped back once the correction to the wall was made. The seller now disclosed it to the buyers.

The Buyers Inspected; Seller Declined Request

On inspecting the remedial work the buyers noticed sweating on the insulation inside the vapor barrier. They became suspect and wanted the seller to remove all of the insulation on the damaged wall, to see whether other cracks existed. The seller declined the request and would not allow the buyers any further inspections. Though not agreed to in the contract, the seller felt they had already generously given the buyer a number additional inspections to measure the kitchen for a renovation quote, and to measure for flooring and other updating plans.

Extended Warranties are Unlikely

The seller said that once the deal closed and the buyers owned the property they could open it up themselves. If by chance other cracks were discovered, which they doubted, the seller suggested they could contact the concrete subcontractor that built the basement and/or the builder of the home. Typically, however, the basement subcontractor gives a 2-year warranty on the foundation and at this point the house is 10 years old. Though unlikely, if any such extended warranty existed, the seller should produce written evidence of its existence and transferability.

The Deal Closed with No Additional Problems

The buyers were instructed to talk to their lawyer. They, however, said that they didn’t want to complicate the matter with lawyers and wanted the sales representatives to help work it out. The respective sales reps, though, could do no more as the seller was firm on his position. On consulting with their lawyer, the buyers closed on the deal and subsequently no further problems were discovered.

Some Take-aways

The seller was forthright in making the buyer aware of the leak, the crack and the fix. As advised, the buyers were wise to close. Under our system, if additional cracks were found they could go after the seller, though the onus would be on them to prove the seller was aware of other cracks. If the buyers chose not to close they could be sued for breach.

Before Closing

Before closing lawyers typically ask if the buyers have performed a final viewing and whether they noticed any issues compared to when they initially saw the house. The buyers then tell about the crack and fix…as well as other concerns should they have any.

Some Possible Solutions:

  1. They can try to negotiate a holdback until they discover if other cracks are present.

  2. They might attempt a price reduction.

They could threaten not to close, leaving them open to legal action: a risky idea. Closing was the right approach.

Are Niagara Region House Prices Dropping?

It’s a Commonly Asked Question Today

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One of the questions homeowners continue to ask lately is, “Are prices dropping?” A legitimate question when they notice “New Price” and “Reduced” stickers on any number of for sale signs, not to mention homes lingering on the market, unsold compared to last year.

To date the answer is “no,” at least prices, that is to say, have not gone down overall. To the end of September, versus the same time last year, the number of sales is down by about 13% to 15%, yet average and median sale prices indicate positive numbers as follows:

  • The overall average price year-to-date for the Niagara Region is up by about 2.6%, and

  • The median price by and large is up by about 4%.

Of course average and median prices cannot determine how any one home or neighbourhood has performed. They do, however, point toward general market conditions and trends. As well, in certain districts within the region and in high-end properties average and median prices are down somewhat.

What has been going down are list prices

The hot seller’s market of 2017 brought about a sizable increase in sale prices. By the end of December 2017, the overall average sale price for the region was up by about 23.8% and the overall median price by 21.2%. Homeowners still have the benefit of this appreciation.

Yet in many cases, sellers this year have overextended their asking prices, possibly thinking that prices were going to continue to rise to a similar degree as last year. Such a strategy has not served them; hence the noticeable number of price reductions and listings that remain unsold. Market conditions change and experience has shown that there is often a delayed reaction to such shifts on the part of sellers.

Some of the following have contributed to this shift:

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  1. The mortgage stress test introduced in January of 2018 caused some buyers to opt out of the market;

  2. Home price increases contributed to reduced affordability;

  3. The number of out of town buyers coming to the region has dropped as sales of single family homes in and around Toronto have gone down as well as their average prices.

  4. Interest rates continue to inch up shrinking affordability and creating buyer concern.

In spite of this, and to reiterate, prices for the most part have gone up, and properly-priced homes continue to sell. Even during the hot seller market overpriced listing prices did not result in a sale. Today properties have to be priced to attract buyers and their representatives.

Fear Can Drive Many Buying Decisions

In a hot seller’s market buyers fear they might lose out. In a slower market buyers fear they might pay too much. They question whether their home purchase will maintain its value.

Preparing for a Power Outage

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You’re familiar with sweater weather, hot chocolate season and the holidays. But this time of year is also the start of storm season. With the cold weather coming in, it is time to start preparing for winter storms and power outages. The best way to avoid a total blackout is to get a backup generator, but you will also need a good stock of supplies to get you through the storm. A storm bin to keep in your home during all seasons, will be especially handy during in the winter time!

Here is our C21 storm prep list:

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Lights

Candles and flashlights are essential in any storm bin. Make sure you have a lighter/matches and extra batteries in there as well.

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Food/Water

Experts recommend four liters of water per person per day in your storm bin. For food you will want to have nonperishable items that are quick and easy to cook. Soup, chili and beans make for great meals. It is worth investing in a small camping stove and a couple of canisters of propane, so you have something to cook on. Throw in some granola bars and snacks in there too just to be safe.

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Blankets

You never know how long the power could be out for and how long you could be without heat. Have extra blankets and sleeping bags readily available to get cozy when the temperature starts to dip.

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Prepare to Work From Home

If there is a big storm forecasted, it could be wise to be ready to work from home. Bring your computer home and save everything just in case the power goes out. You don’t want to come in after a power outage to find all your hard work gone!

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Games

In times like these it is important to stay positive and try to find light in a dark situation. Cards and board games are easy to pull out for entertainment while you are camped out in the dark!

Niagara Region Residential Sales Prices and Statistics for October, 2018

Residential Sales, Average Sale Prices and Days to Sell for the Niagara Region

For the Niagara Region: 01-Oct-2018 to 31-Oct-2018 vs. Same Time Last Year*

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Residential Average Sale Prices for the City of Niagara Falls

For the Niagara Falls: Month to Month comparison for 2017 and 2018 to October 2018

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Residential Sales Average Days to Sell for the City of Niagara Falls

For the Niagara Falls: Month to Month comparison for 2017 and 2018 to October 2018

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*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

Prepare Your Home For Winter: 10 Tips!

Prepare Your Home for Winter

 

Winter is not quite upon us yet, but here in the Niagara region cold weather has a habit of creeping up on us suddenly and without warning. With that in mind, don’t wait too long to prepare your home for winter before the cold temperatures hit. To help you get going, here are 10 quick tips!

  1. If you have wooden windows, check them carefully for decay or rotting. If they are damaged, repair or replace them to keep the heat from escaping your home.

  2. Another way to prevent heat from escaping is to check the weatherstripping on your doors and windows and replace them if required.

  3. Also check the windows themselves for cracks or gaps. If you find that your windows are damaged, repair or replace them before winter.

  4. If there are overgrown branches on your property, make sure that they are not too close to the home or to electrical wires. If they are, be sure to trim them because the weight of snow and ice combined with strong winds could bring these branches down.

  5. If you have stairs on the outside, check to make sure that they are secure. Their integrity is sure to be tested by the ice and snow.

  6. Check carefully to make sure that the firebox and flue system are clear of creosote and/or soot. Also check for cracks to avoid fire hazards.

  7. In order to ensure that your furnace is functioning at full capacity and that the indoor air is clean, check to see the condition of your filters. Clean or replace them as needed.

  8. Always check the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside your home on a regular basis.

  9. Plug up any leaks that you find in the basement, in the attic, or in crawl spaces.

  10. Ice and snow build up can become so heavy that it can cause gutters to collapse. Before winter sets in be sure to check that all of the gutters are properly fastened, and if you notice any sagging or loosening, tighten them up as soon as possible.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these 10 tips will get you well on your way to preparing your home for winter. For more information, feel free to call Barbara Grumme or Ashley Czinege at 905-356-9100.

 

5 Steps for Planning An Affordable Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and for many of us the stress of social and financial commitments detracts from the celebrations and enjoyment of the season.  The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to enjoy the festivities.  Here are five steps that may help you make better decisions around planning your Christmas events.

1. Give based on your actual financial situation, not your wishful financial situation

The fact is, people who overspend on Christmas gifts and parties by putting everything on credit may have a wonderful December, but an incredibly stressful January.  If you aren't able to pay off the entire credit card bill when it comes in after the holidays, then you've spent too much.

Perhaps it is the fear that friends and family will consider us similar to the character Scrooge, from Dicken's A Christmas Carol that cause us to overspend.   The truth the financial burden of spending more than we have creates a far more dire reality than any perception of being "cheap".

In your Christmas planning, you must establish boundaries.

  1. Financial Boundaries (often called making a budget) — How much money do you have to spend on Christmas?

  2. Scheduling boundaries — How many Christmas parties can you logically attend?

  3. Hosting boundaries — How many people can you feasibly host?

As a result, 'no' must become a part of your Christmas vocabulary. For many, Christmas is about a time of over-commitment, so it is essential that we know our limits.

 

2. Giving a gift doesn't necessarily mean spending money

You can express your love and appreciation for people without spending money.  Marketing over the years has become extremely effective at associating buying expensive gifts as showing how much you love someone.  We need to reset that misconception.

If you are handy or crafty, make a gift.  It could be a scrapbook from a special event, an upcycled piece of furniture or event passing along a cherished family heirloom like grandma's teacup.  It could be as simple as a handwritten Christmas card you've made yourself.

 

3. Make a list and check it twice, then check it again.

Start your list by writing your total gift budget at the top of the page.  Then start writing down a list of everyone you'd like to give a gift.  Go through your list and allocate portions of your budget to everyone on that list.  This may take several passes to make sure you don't go over your original limit.

Whilst going through your list, who will get a store bought gift?  Who will get a lovely handwritten card from you?  Who will get the gift of your time and energy?  Taking the time now will prevent impulse buying and overspending when you are at the mall.

 

4. Start saving money as soon as you can

Even though the stores decorate for Christmas earlier and earlier each year, it can be a positive trigger for you.  Start saving as soon as you can so all of the bills don't hit you in December.  Take a look at your total budget and look at how many paycheques you have between now and Christmas.  Plan to put equal portions of each pay aside to match your budget.  If you aren't able to do it, then take another look at your budget - perhaps you'll have to decrease it.

 

5. Be watching for sales today

Time is always a friend of a savvy shopper.

Stores almost always have sales, but they don't put everything on sale at the same time (typically). This means that if you start watching for sales today, you can snag a pair of running shoes for junior today, and then in a few weeks they might have a video game on sale. Far too many of us wait until the last week and are forced to pay full price for everything. But since you've already got your list, your budget, and you're even setting aside money, you can start taking advantage of sales now.

Decorate by Nature

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As hard as it is to say goodbye to summer there is something very comforting about snuggling up in a warm sweater, watching the leaves drop and of course the best part about fall- thanksgiving! As we cover up the BBQ and put away the patio furniture we must now bring our summer entertaining indoors. But don’t fret- we’ll help you bring some of the outdoors to your Thanksgiving entertaining with our nature inspired decorating tips!

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Fall Wreath

As hard as it is to say goodbye to summer there is something very comforting about snuggling up in a warm sweater, watching the leaves drop and of course the best part about fall- thanksgiving! As we cover up the BBQ and put away the patio furniture we must now bring our summer entertaining indoors. But don’t fret- we’ll help you bring some of the outdoors to your Thanksgiving entertaining with our nature inspired decorating tips!

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Thankful Tree

Thanksgiving is all about taking the time to be grateful for what we have so why not write these things down? You don’t need much to make a thankful tree, just a small potted tree, some scrap paper and fishing line or thread. During dinner get your guests to write down what they are thankful for and hang them on the tree. Keep the tree up past Thanksgiving to remind yourself of all the wonderful things in your life.

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Pumpkin Spice

Give your pumpkins some spice, elegance and charm by painting them. For an elegant look try painting them white and, for something jazzier, use teal or pink. It will give a little more attitude to your Thanksgiving table.

Net Cost of Owning Versus Renting Your Home

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Mr. Will Dunning, Chief Economist for Mortgage Professionals of Canada, released an insightful report called, Owning Versus Renting a Home in Canada, release September 2018.

Increase in Home Prices vs. Renting:

  • According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, over the last twenty years, home prices in Canada have appreciated by an average of 6.2% per year.

  • According to CMHC, rents over the past twenty years have increased by an average of 2.7% per year.

Given the discrepancy, does home buying still make sense and are young people better off renting?

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Yet Home Ownership is at an All-Time High

Notwithstanding the perceived “deterioration in affordability” due to price increases, “Canadians remain highly interested in becoming homeowners, and they continue to succeed at buying homes.” Mr. Dunning reports that compared to renting, those able to invest in ownership would be better off in the long term as opposed renting. He agrees that upfront monthly costs for renting can be cheaper in most locations. However, the net cost of owning a home compared to the comparable rental cost is less and more cost effective over time. And that’s without considering a home’s appreciation.

The Net Cost of Owning Trumps Renting

Over time the cost of owning or renting will both rise. The net cost of owning, however, takes the following into account. The largest cost of ownership is the mortgage payment which typically becomes a fixed amount over the term of a mortgage contract, as in a five year term. During this period, and with each mortgage payment, a portion of the principal is paid down increasing the owner’s equity in the home. This savings effectively reduces cost resulting in a net cost savings.

Here is the Result On Average

According to Mr. Dunning, the result, based on a Canadian average price of $569,849, 20% down and a 3.25% over 25 years is as follows: On average, the cost of owning exceeds renting a similar home by about $541 per month. Yet once the “the principal repayment is considered, the net cost of owning is $449 less than the cost of renting.” Over 25 years or less, once the mortgage is paid off, he projects the cost of ownership at about $1,549 per month versus $4,655 for renting a corresponding dwellings.What’s more, because the lifetime costs of housing is lower than that of tenants, owners have a greater opportunity to accumulate more savings tend to be better off financially.

How Does This Pan Out in Niagara?

The regional overall average price year-to-date is about $470,000. Based on the same parameters as above, the net cost of owning exceeds the cost of renting by about $640. Minus the principal repayment, the net cost of owning is $380 less in the first month. Over year it’s about $6,400 less.

Other Housing Costs

Average annual increases for housing costs in Canada for the past 5 years: Property taxes 2.8%; Repairs: 1.9%; Home insurance: 5.4%; Utilities: 1.6%; Rents: 2.4%; Utilities: 1.6%; Rents: 2.4%. For full report, do an internet search on “Owning versus Renting in Canada-Mortgage Professionals.”

5 Reasons Why October Is the Perfect Month for Your Niagara Falls Vacation

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It’s not uncommon for people from all over the world to get the urge to visit Niagara Falls. For over 100 years now, it’s been one of the world’s most popular destinations. While most visitors make their way to the Falls and surrounding area during the balmy summer months, autumn has an appeal that’s hard to deny. From the thinned out crowds to the fantastic foliage, here are four reasons October is the perfect month to take your Niagara Falls vacation.

  1. Hornblower Niagara Cruises Still Operates

    One reason people are often more inclined to visit the area during the height of the tourist season is due to the fact that all the fun rides and attractions are going full-tilt.While October does see some reduction in hours and entertainment, for the most part, the fun is still accessible.In particular, Hornblower Niagara Cruises is still in operation during the month of October.There is simply no better way to get up close and personal with Niagara Falls while getting doused with spray and deafened with what sounds like thunder, you can do it just as easily in October as you can in July.

  2. The Crowds are Gone

    Some people genuinely enjoy the thrill of a crowd, but if you aren’t one of them, planning an October trip is a perfect way to see the Falls without triggering your agoraphobia. Reservations at the area’s finest restaurants are easier to get. Tickets to shows are more readily had. Just strolling around town or gazing at the Falls is more easily accomplished when the happy glut of visitors has mostly gone home. It’s true that the summertime crowds can feel electric thanks to the energy and cosmopolitan nature of the thousands upon thousands who show up to experience the place. If you don’t need that sort of electricity, however, October’s slower and less-peopled pace is ideal.

  3. The Weather is Amazing

    It’s not as if it ever gets really hot in Niagara Falls. The weather’s remarkable mildness is one of the reasons the grapes produced along the Niagara Peninsula produce such excellent wines. That being said, the autumn weather is often perfect. The sweet chill in the air can often be taken care of with little more than an extra windbreaker or sweatshirt during the mornings and evenings. It can rain a bit, so you’ll want to bring an umbrella and galoshes, but overall, fall in Niagara Falls usually includes plenty of sun.

  4. The Fall Foliage

    The Niagara Region is a very fertile place, and the autumn highlights the ways the changing seasons affect it remarkably. Whether you love to hike or you love driving around the countryside, taking Niagara in during the month of October is often a feast of autumn colour that can rival New England. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera.

  5. Amazing Offers at Greystone Manor Bed & Breakfast

    We'd love to have you stay with us. As always, our rates include FREE onsite parking, FREE Wi-Fi, a full nutritious breakfast and so much more. In October, we are including some special treats to make your visit to Niagara Falls even more enjoyable. Click here to check out the offers on our official website: www.greystone-manor.ca

So, plan your vacation for the Niagara region during the month of October. As these five reasons more than show, it’s the perfect time to visit.