Prepare Your Home For Winter: 10 Tips!

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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 12 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 at 905-356-9100.

 

Budgeting for a Stress-free Christmas

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One of the best ways to make sure that your Christmas holidays will be merry and stress-free is to plan out your Christmas budget well ahead of time. It’s easy to stay focused on our day-to-day obligations and put holiday season budgeting on the backburner, but the sooner we get a grip on the Christmas budget, the better it will be for our wallet and for our general sense of well-being in the long run. With that in mind, here are 6 easy tips to help you budget for Christmas in a timely and efficient way.

1. Write it down!

The most simple things are often overlooked, but actually writing out your Christmas budget is very important. Throughout the Christmas season advertisers will spend MILLIONS on targeting your impulse to spend without thinking, so if you want to stay on budget you need to have a concrete battle plan. Write down what you plan to buy and how much you can afford to spend, and review the list on a regular basis to remind yourself.

2. Stick to it!

Now that you have your list, treat it with respect. Look it over often – daily if possible – and make sure that you are not going over budget. Spending more on our loved ones can be tempting, especially during the holiday season, but if you stick to your carefully planned out budget you will be thankful that you did come January.

3. The Price isn’t Everything

In the majority of cases, our loved ones will appreciate the thought and care that goes into a gift far more than its retail price. Children especially don’t value gifts based on price but on the enjoyment that they get out of them. With that in mind, look for presents that are thoughtful and affordable, and forget about expensive jewellery and other overpriced trinkets.

4. Secret Santa is a Money Saver

The tradition of a group of friends or colleagues drawing names and then buying a gift for only one other person in the group can be a huge money saver. This way everyone gets a gift, and everyone saves a lot of money. Consider employing this strategy whenever possible.

5. Do NOT Borrow Money for Christmas!

This seems obvious, but many people will still do it. The whole point of budgeting for your holiday spending is so that you don’t end up in debt come January, which can put a dark cloud over what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. If you catch yourself thinking about borrowing money for your Christmas shopping, THINK AGAIN! 

6. If You REALLY Need Cash, Sell Old Gold and Valuables You No Longer Need

Many of us have old gold and jewellery locked away somewhere inside our homes. If you haven’t worn it in a long time and you don’t plan to wear it in the future (and if there is no significant sentimental value attached), sell your old gold and jewellery and use the money to complete your Christmas shopping without accruing debt. Just be sure to research the current market value of gold and other valuables so that you don’t get ripped off by unscrupulous gold buyers. 

I hope that these 6 quick tips will help you have a healthy, merry, and stress-free Christmas! For more information about Christmas budgeting and other financial and real estate tips, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

Fun Facts about Pumpkins!

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The 14th Annual Heartland Forest Pumpkin Festival will be taking place on October 21st in Niagara Falls, and it will feature fun events and attractions for the entire family, including food trucks, children’s activities and rides, pumpkin carvings, and more. The admission is FREE and Heartland Forest is a beautiful natural sanctuary in the heart of Niagara Falls, so if you haven’t discovered it yet be sure to check it out. For more information click here, but in the meantime let’s look at some fun facts about pumpkins and why they have become such an iconic symbol of Autumn.

1. Pumpkins grow on every continent except for Antarctica, which is made up of barren tundra.

2. The vast majority of pumpkins in North America (around 80%) ripen only during the month of October, so it is no surprise that we associate pumpkins with this particular month.

3. Not all pumpkins are orange. In fact, there are 45 different varieties of pumpkins, and they can also be green, white, yellow, and red.

4. The tradition of carving pumpkins and lighting candles inside them is believed to originate in Ireland, where people would celebrate the Gaelic festival of Samhain by carving faces into turnips, beet and other root vegetables.

5. The name pumpkin comes from the French word pompon, which was adapted from "pepon”, the Greek word for "large melon."

6. Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine, and they flattened the strips of pumpkins and dried them and made mats.

As they grow all over the world, have medicinal and nutritional properties, and are steeped in many diverse traditions, it is no wonder that pumpkins continue to be such an iconic symbol of the harvest season and of Autumn in particular. For more information about the pumpkin harvest and pumpkin related events in Niagara, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

The Importance of Giving Thanks

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The Thanksgiving Day holiday in Canada dates all the way back to the 1600s when French settlers first arrived in New France. Thanksgiving began as an annual feast celebrating the end of the harvest season, and according to many historical records these celebrations included the mutual sharing of food between European settlers and the indigenous peoples of the area.  

For most of us in the modern world it is difficult to imagine how important the success of the harvest season was for early settlers, and how crucial their mutually beneficial relationship with the indigenous peoples of Canada was for their very survival. Without modern technology, transportation, and storage facilities one bad harvest could lead to famine and spell disaster for an entire settlement, so the early settlers quickly learned the importance of being thankful for every morsel of food and for every bit of help that they received from their neighbours. Today, with a fully stocked supermarket right around the corner even in the dead of winter, it is easy to forget the importance of being thankful. Nevertheless, even in the modern world giving thanks is still important in our daily lives. Here’s why:

1.      Being grateful and appreciating what we have is good for our health! When we are feeling down we are often reminded by our loved ones to think about everything we should be grateful for, and even some scientific studies have shown that individuals who think about what they can be thankful for on a regular basis are happier and more well-adjusted than those who only think about the things they lack in life.

2.      Being grateful and appreciating the ones we love is good for their health! Expressing our thanks and appreciation for others makes those individuals feel confident and good about themselves, and studies show that people who feel appreciated lead healthier and happier lives. So if you want to do something for your loved ones, remind them how much you cherish and value them and everything they do. We often tend to overlook the little things that important people in our lives do for us, but if we put in more effort into showing our appreciation, this will have a positive impact on our relationships with the ones we care about the most.

Thanksgiving Day is just one day of the year and a wonderful Canadian tradition, but giving thanks and showing appreciation should be a daily activity all year round. Being grateful is good for our health, and for the health of everyone around us, so the best time to start being thankful is right now

For more information about healthy living every day of the year, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

The Market is Slowing, but We Can Help You Keep Going!

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When compared to the same month last year, the August 2017 real estate market did not perform as well as hoped. The number of homes sold has decreased, and in Niagara Falls in particular home sales decreased by 36% compared to the same month last year. On top of that, the average sale price in Niagara Falls dropped by 3%, although the average sale prices in the Niagara Region as a whole increased by 21% since this time last year. Keep in mind that these numbers reflect the true average price of all the sales and may not apply to each property specifically.

So the bad news is that the market has slowed down, but the good news is that this is still a sellers’ market. In my 30 years of real estate experience I have seen many ups and downs in the market, and as the old saying goes “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Ashley and I have powered up our comprehensive market plan and together with our team of experts we are working hard to get your house sold for top dollar. If you are getting impatient and want to increase the chance of getting your house sold sooner, call us today to arrange a meeting. We will put our decades of experience and team of qualified experts to work for you!

For more information, call Barbara Grumme at 905-356-9100.

Quick Fall Checklist for Your Home

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As we transition from Summer into Fall, now is the ideal time to take care of important tasks around your home so that you won't have to worry about them in the cold winter months. These tasks are pretty basic and they can save you money on top of making your home a safer place for your family, but they are often overlooked as a result of our already busy schedules. To help with that, here is a quick checklist that will keep you on track:

  • If you use a gas heater, have it inspected by professionals to ensure that everything is running smoothly before the cold sets in. This will save you money, but it will also ensure the safety of everyone inside the home.
  • Speaking of professionals, have them inspect your furnace at least once a year. Once again, this is paramount for both cost-efficiency and safety.
  • Ensure that your furnace filters are clean and functional.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure that it is clean and up to code (beware of soot and creosote build-up). Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the most efficient method.
  • If you use a wood stove, have it inspected for safety hazards.
  • Inspect the roof and clean the gutters before the freezing temperatures set in. If either the roof or the gutters are damaged, these problems will likely get worse in the winter months.
  • Drain irrigation systems and outdoor faucets.
  • Repair any damage to your driveway, steps, and sidewalk before it gets too cold.
  • Seal up any gaps or cracks on your doors and windows before the time comes to crank up the heat. Once the heating bills start rolling in you'll be glad you did.
  • For safety purposes test all smoke and CO detectors, ensure you have a first aid kit and a working fire extinguisher, and remove all potential fire hazards from your home.

Following these common sense steps in the Fall will make your home safer and more cost efficient throughout the Winter season, so do your best to check them all off in a timely manner. For more information about home efficiency and safety, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

Mortgage Rate Updates + Fall Housing Market

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Fewer homes in the summer.  Lower average home selling price in the summer.  That’s this year’s headline.  But it could also apply to last year or the year before or the year before that.

What hasn’t been said much is that house prices almost always go up in the Spring and fall during the summer.  This

year isn’t much different.  Except that this Spring, we saw ridiculous price increases in the 20% range.

That’s just not sustainable.  Check out some of these graphs from Canadian Real Estate Association.

This summer, house prices have fallen a little more than average.   And sales are also down compared with the last 2 years.  But listings haven’t increased.  In fact, listings dropped in July signalling we could have reached the bottom.

Hey, if we were in a housing bubble, you would have seen new listings continue to spike up.  That’s when we know the market will have changed gears.

PENT UP BUYER DEMAND?

Some are speculating that we could see a busy Fall market this September or October.  The Fall has historically been the 2nd busiest housing market.    If we look at Vancouver in 2016, after they announced their 15% Foreign tax rule, their market went soft and was very quiet.  Many pessimists were saying it was the bubble bursting.

Six months later and Vancouver’s market is busier than ever. Fully recovered.  The initial shock of the Foreign tax rule came and went.   We could see that same sort of comeback for Toronto.

A WORD TO OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND REGULATORS…

To the Federal govt:  Please, no more mortgage rule changes.  Let the market absorb all the massive changes already made.  Listen, I’m telling you with 28 years of mortgage lending experience.. I can’t recall when qualifying for a mortgage has ever been harder… and I was around during the last real estate recession of 1990.

Non-bank lenders are being penalized as their cost of funds are higher than BIG SIX BANKS (thanks to the new Fed govt mortgage rules), hence driving more customers towards the BANKS… THE WINNERS:  BIG SIX BANKS.  THE LOSERS: CONSUMERS. Let’s bring back competition among Mortgage Lenders… and let’s make mortgage financing accessible again.  The pendulum has swung way too far to the conservative lending side.

BANK OF CANADA RATE HIKES ON HOLD?

The Bank of Canada hiked the Prime rate by 0.25%.  It was headline news for weeks.  Many said this was the 1st of many hikes to come.  Today, the forecast is for a possible October hike.  But that isn’t a sure thing.  And if the uncertainty with the housing market continues or if the NAFTA trade agreement gets turfed like President Trump says, you can bet the Bank of Canada governor will think twice about raising the rates.   More likely a rate drop!

Stay tuned.. Maybe we’ll see a Spring market in the Fall?

Your best interest is my only interest.   I reply to all questions and I welcome your comments.  Like this article?  Share with a friend.

Steve Garganis 416 224 0114 steve@mortgagenow.ca

For more information, please visit: https://canadamortgagenews.ca/2017/08/25/spring-housing-market-in-the-fall-and-what-happened-to-the-bank-of-canada-multiple-rate-hikes/

Niagara Cultural Events at a Glance! 

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September is upon us, but even though cottage season is behind us there are plenty of wonderful cultural events happening right here in the Niagara region. Here are some of them at a glance:

New exhibition! Dancing in Circles: Rituals to Classical Ballet

Feb. 11, 2017 to Feb. 3, 2018. Dance serves many functions, from simple pleasure in movement to religious devotion and ritual. This exhibition, drawn from the permanent collection at RiverBrink, includes artists’ renderings of dancers and dances in various forms. Among the Canadian examples include early folk dance and Indigenous performances.

New exhibition! The Group of Seven: A Portfolio of Prints

Opening Spring 2017. The 2003 donation of this portfolio of prints significantly increased the number of works by members of the Group in the RiverBrink collection. The photolithographs, published by Rous & Mann in 1925, were an early project in the history of reproductions of work by Group members in Canada.

Canada at Confederation

May 18 to September 16 2017. The unification of the provinces of British North America as the Dominion of Canada was a significant political event in the early history of Canada. With a special focus on Canada West in the 1850’s and 60’s, this exhibition provides a glimpse of the land and people on the eve of Confederation.

Putting Down Roots

On display May 15 to October 31, 2017. An exhibition exploring settlement, immigration and refuge in Niagara-on-the-Lake for Canada’s 150th. Topics include: First Nations, Loyalists, Black History, Irish immigration, Niagara-on-the-Lake as a Confederate refuge, Home Children, Mennonites, Polish soldiers and more.

Walking Tours

Walking tours of historic Niagara-on-the-Lake Saturdays and Sundays from June through September. Participants meet at the gazebo in Queen’s Royal Park (at the end of King Street) for an hour long walk through town. Tickets are $10 and include admission to the Niagara Historical Museum.

Welland Antique & Artisan Market

Welcome to Niagara’s newest event, the Welland Antique and Artisan Market!! Join us in our love for all things rusty, vintage and handmade. The Welland Antique and Artisan Market will take place Sundays(check our dates) at Welland’s Historic Market Square.  Supporting local artisans, entrepreneurs, artists, and businesses.

Celebration of Nations

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, working closely with Kakekalanicks Indigenous Arts & Consultancy and Indigenous community leaders from the Niagara region announce the first Celebration of Nations / Célébration des nations (CN) in downtown St. Catharines from September 8 to 10, 2017.

New exhibition! Dreams and Schemes: Building the Welland Canals

September 14 2017 to January 20 2018. The opening of the Welland Ship Canal in 1932 represented the culmination of more than one hundred years of construction of increasingly complex technical and engineering marvels. This exhibition allows visitors to experience the history of canal-building in Niagara as captured by artists.

Carmel Fine Art and Music Festival

5th Annual Carmel Fine Art and Music Festival presented by Niagara Arts Showcase. This Is THE place to spend the weekend enjoying an incredible array of talent in a variety of mediums of visual and musical arts from all across Ontario. There is something for everyone. September 15 2017, Firemen's Park, Niagara Falls.

For more information and even more events, please visit: http://cniagara.ca/events.

How To Plan Your Winter Garden

It might seem odd to be talking about winter gardening in August, but this is actually the perfect time to start thinking about your winter garden. If you want to grow your own fresh and organic vegetables throughout the year, now is the time to sow the seeds as your plants will need about six months to develop fully. Here are some quick tips on how to plan and start your winter garden now so that you can reap the benefits in the winter months.

1.      Choose your plants. Winter gardening will allow you to eat healthy home-grown vegetables at a time when they are not available locally, and this will also save you money since you won’t have to purchase these vegetables at a premium during the winter months. Certain plants are better suited for winter gardening than others, and broccoli, carrots, beets, arugula, and parsnips are all great options. For more information about the best types of vegetables to grow, consult a seed catalogue.

2.      Preserve excess spring crops for the winter. If you’ve had a bountiful harvest in the spring, you can always freeze the leftovers and use them in the winter months. This works especially well with berries, including raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

3.      Use small pots rather than large garden beds. This makes it easier to protect your seeds and to tend to them (watering, etc.) as the weather gets colder.

4.      Cover your plants with plastic sheeting. If you form structures resembling a plastic tent around your pots, these coverings will act like small greenhouses by conserving heat inside the pot while also protecting the plant from harsh weather conditions.

 

Although the most valuable gardening lessons are learned through experience, I hope that this quick guide will set you on your way to starting up your own winter garden. For more information about gardening, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

How To BBQ The HEALTHY Way!

 

Oh summer harvest, how I love you so.

This time of year in Niagara is abound with so much bounty, beauty and sunshine (well, there's rain too). I'm guessing (and hoping) that makes for a stellar wine year for Niagara.

Right now, we are at the height of our growing season in and farmers markets are bustling with fresh produce, tender fruit and tons of greens... and zucchini's!

While you may not think of zucchini as being rich in nutrients, it rates very high in The World's Healthiest Foods across all nutrient categories: vitamins, minerals, macronutrients (like fiber and protein) as well as phytonutrients like carotenoids. They rate summer squash as an excellent source of copper and manganese and very good or good source of magnesium phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium, and iron. Not too shabby!

Most of the antioxidants and fiber are in the skin of a zucchini, so it’s best to keep the skin when eating it. However, most zucchini varieties in North America are genetically modified, so it’s best to purchase it organic.

I find that many of my clients get a little stumped on how to use zucchini in dishes other than grilling it or making a dip with it.

Most people have now heard of or have tried zucchini noodles or 'zoodles' that make a delicious low carb alternative to traditional noodles. Using zoodles in place of pasta has endless possibilites, but if you're tired of the whole zoodle thing or need a little zucchini inspiration, here are some of my favourite ways to use zucchini while they're in the in the height of their season and relatively inexpensive.

For more information and great healthy summer recipes, visit Sharlene Styles by clicking here

 

4 Quick Tips For Summer Home Maintenance!

Hot summer weather is the perfect time for taking it easy, but even if sunbathing all season long is a tempting prospect, you shouldn’t skip out on performing these important summer home maintenance tasks.

1.      Check Your Windows! In order to keep as much of the summer heat out as possible, regularly check the quality of your windows, including the window sealants. This simple task can go a long way to saving you money on electric bills as the AC works overtime during the hot summer months.

2.      Check Your Air Conditioning! One of the most important summer home maintenance tasks is to make sure that your AC unit is in full working order. Tune up your AC on a regular basis, make sure that the coils and filters are clean, and take special care to prevent any potential fire hazards.

3.      Tune Up Your Pool! If you have a pool, be sure to clean it, level the water, and check the pumps before you use it for swimming this summer. If the pool isn’t clean and the chemicals inside are not balanced properly, instead of being a source of entertainment your pool could become a serious health hazard instead.

4.      Clean Your Gutters! Make sure that your gutters are cleaned every six months to avoid leaks and clogging. Clean gutters are especially important during humid summer temperatures that tend to bring heavy rainstorms. 

If you follow these 4 steps you should be able to relax in the knowledge that your home is ready for the summer heat. If you’d like to learn more about home maintenance and how to increase the value of your home, call Barbara Grumme at 905-356-9100.

How to Spot the Best Investment Opportunities 

 

Real estate continues to be one of the most stable and reliable ways to get a strong return on your investment in Canada, but all properties are not created equal. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you tell the difference between a dubious purchase and a great investment opportunity.

1.      Is the population increasing? When investing in real estate, the rules of supply and demand are essential. If you are investing in a city like Niagara Falls where the population is steadily growing, you can be confident that your pool of prospective tenants is also growing. However, if you invest in a community with a declining population you may have a harder time finding tenants.

2.      Is the community accessible? When buying properties that are not located in a major city like Toronto, you are sure to find more affordable property prices. Nonetheless, you have to ensure that the community you are investing in has easy access to major highways, airports, and other forms of transportation. For instance, the Niagara region’s proximity to major highways, airports, and the US border makes it a prime location for investment, but a remote community in Northern Ontario is a far bigger challenge.

3.      What is the rate of employment? When thinking about investing in a particular community, do your research. Check the most recent employment rates and see whether employment is rising or declining. More jobs means more prospective tenants who can afford to rent your property and more prospective buyers when you decide to sell.

4.      Is the community investing in public infrastructure? If a community is building new schools, hospitals, and community centers, it means that the government is pouring money into the infrastructure. That is good news for real estate investors. 

5.      Is the private sector growing? New businesses moving into the community, department stores opening, busy malls, and plazas filling up are all great signs for real estate investment. Private businesses -- and big national and international retailers in particular --like to invest in vibrant communities with a lot of potential. These companies spend a lot of money on researching communities that will be best suited for their businesses, so if they are investing the potential is there.

If you can answer all of these questions in the affirmative, chances are that the community you are thinking about investing in is a suitable one. As long as you do your research and invest wisely, you will reap impressive financial rewards in the long term.

For more information about real estate investment in the Niagara region and beyond, feel free to call Barbara Grumme at 905-356-9100.

Summer Community Events in Niagara Falls at a Glance

Every summer Niagara Falls hosts a variety of wonderful community events that many locals don’t even know exist. For your convenience, here are just some of the Niagara Falls community events that you can look forward to in August.

Yoga in the Park @ Firemen's Park, Niagara Falls

Sunday, August 6, 2017 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Firemen's Park, Niagara Falls

Contact Information: Dianne - Phone: 647-960-7620

 

@ the Museum Thursday night presents: Documentary screening "Motel"

Thursday, August 10, 2017 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Niagara Falls History Museum

Contact Information: Clark Bernat - Phone: 905-358-5082

Recently premiered at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, this film is about an old honeymoon motel turned into affordable housing. The film looks at the managers & residents as they try to build a positive and welcoming community.

 

@ the Museum Thursday night presents: Community Art Project

Thursday, August 10, 2017 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Niagara Falls History Museum

Contact Information: Clark Bernat - Phone: 905-358-5082

August 3, 10 & 31 @ 6-9pm Join local artist, Emily Andrews and take a step back in time to explore the history and technique of silhouette portraiture.

 

Chamber Music Performance - Solo Piano

Saturday, August 12, 2017 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Victoria Avenue Library, 4848 Victoria Avenue

Contact Information: Library Staff - Phone: 905-356-8080

A solo performance by professional concert pianist Gerardo Molina. He will perform a varied repertoire of classical music.

 

Summer Fling With A Book - Book Club

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Victoria Avenue Library, 4848 Victoria Avenue

Contact Information: Library Staff - Phone: 905-356-8080

Join us for a lively discussion of "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan.

 

Canada 150: Niagara Falls - Then and Now - Stamford

Thursday, August 17, 2017 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Stamford Centre Library, 3643 Portage Road

Contact Information: Library Staff - Phone: 905-356-8080

A Community Oral History. Niagara Falls Public Library and Niagara Falls Museums are partnering to conduct round table local history discussions based on the photos from Canada 150: Niagara Falls - Then and Now.

 

Co-Ed Softball Tournament

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Patrick Cummings Memorial Sports Complex

Contact Information: Sherri Lynch - Phone: 519-239-6258

The Trudy Richard Memorial Co-ed Softball Tournament is being held Sunday August 20, 2017 at Patrick Cummings Memorial Sports Complex. Put a team together and come out in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada.

For more information and even more events, visit https://niagarafalls.ca/events/calendar/default.ec.

 

Canada 150 Signature Event Featuring Matthew Good - Free to Attend!

Saturday, August 26, 2017 7:00 PM

Scotiabank Convention Centre 6815 Stanley Avenue, Niagara Falls Ontario Canada, L2G 3Y9

Contact Information: 150 in the Falls Committee - Phone: 905-356-7521

Niagara Falls knows how to throw a party, and our Canada 150 Signature event will be a highlight of 150 Fun Fest in the Falls. On Saturday August 26th, Matthew Good will perform a free concert (a non-perishable food donation for Project SHARE is appreciated).

 

Tips to Stay Healthy in the Summer Heat

With summer in full swing, lots of long and hot days are ahead of us. On top of that the Great Lakes region is known for its humid temperatures, so while you enjoy the great outdoors this summer season it is important to take active steps to prevent heat-related illnesses.  

In extremely hot temperatures we produce a lot of sweat, and losing too much fluid can lead to dehydration and other heat-related discomfort. In cases where the body cannot cool itself off adequately there is a risk of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. Children and teens who engage in intense physical activity such as sports practice in hot temperatures are at an increased risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but anyone who loses more fluid through sweat or urination than they can replace by drinking can be at risk of dehydration.

If you are worried that you or someone around you could be dehydrated, look out for these symptoms: thirst, headache, dizziness, dry or sticky mouth, chills, fatigue, low or no urine output (urine color is dark yellow). If you suspect that someone around you could be suffering from dehydration, take them to a cool area (such as a shaded place) and make sure they drink plenty of water or clear juice. If their situation does not improve or worsens, seek medical help right away.

In order to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke from occurring in the first place, you can use these simple strategies:

-   Avoid direct sunlight and crowded places

-   Avoid intense physical activity between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

-   Avoid extremely cold beverages

-   Drink plenty of water and ensure that your children do as well

-   Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and hats that will shield your head from the sun

-   Seek out cool spaces such as shady areas or areas with air-conditioning

-   Avoid leaving children or pets in a car or other confined areas for any amount of time! 

And another great way to keep cool in the summer heat that not too many people seem to know about is to apply Peppermint essential oil to the back of your neck. I have been using essential oils for many years and I would highly recommend checking trying out yourself. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca. 

 

Canada Day in Niagara Falls!

This year we mark 150 years of Confederation, and in honor of the momentous occasion Niagara Falls is gearing up for some memorable Canada Day celebrations. The city is planning various festivities for the entire weekend, including the OPG Niagara Falls Canada Day Parade which will feature Rich Little, Derek Sanderson, and Marcel Dionne as Parade Grand Marshalls and Canada’s Next Designer and Niagara Falls native Marcy Mussari as a special guest.

The OPG Canada Day Parade will begin at 11:00 a.m. on July 1st and run along Victoria to Queen, Ending at Crysler Ave. It will feature marching bands, giant inflatables, dancers, jugglers, colourful floats, and more! After that, a huge Canada Day Street Party will take place on Queen Street, with the Opening Ceremonies beginning at 12:30 pm on the City Hall Main Stage.

There will also be massive fireworks displays throughout the weekend in Queen Victoria Park, and other amazing events will be taking place across the city, including car shows, art shows, and concerts. For more information on all of the specific events, you can read the full schedule on the City of Niagara Falls website by clicking here: https://www.niagarafalls.ca/events/annual-events/canada-day/entertainment.aspx.

Have a safe long weekend and a wonderful Canada Day!

Should You Invest in Student Housing?

Here in Niagara and across Canada student housing has become a major investment opportunity. The reason for this is simple: university and college enrolment has been steadily increasing across the country, and post-secondary institutions are struggling to keep up with the housing needs of their students. On top of that, the Federal government has taken measures to help students financially; for instance, last year a 50-per-cent increase was made to the Canada Student Grant amounts for students from low and middle-income families.  In short, this means that more students are actively looking for housing, and they have more money in their pocket to be pay for it.

Experienced investors have been aware of this opportunity for a long time, and they have been buying single-family and multi-unit properties in order to convert them to student housing in post-secondary education hubs like London, Ontario and Kitchener-Waterloo. However, new investors without real estate experience are now seeing an opportunity to invest as many big developers are building new condos aimed at students, and they are looking for buyers to rent those condos out. Due to the high demand for student housing, it is no surprise that condos located near college and university campuses have been among the best-selling condos in the past few years.

Here are a few quick ways to spot a strong student housing investment opportunity:

1.      Location – Students don’t like to travel far if they can help it and bus routes can be a challenge, so make sure that the property is relatively close to campus and other amenities, and check the public transportation routes and schedules to ensure that students can get where they need to go in a timely manner.  

2.      Schools – The bigger the post-secondary institutions in the area and the more of them there are, the more potential renters for your property. If the location you are investing in is relatively close to both a college and a university as opposed to just one or the other (think of the area between Fanshawe College and Western University in London ON), you have a better chance of finding renters quickly.

3.      Expansion – Look for colleges and universities that are undergoing a significant expansion, because this means that their enrolment will increase and with it the demand for student housing.

If you follow these steps closely, you will be well on your way to spotting a strong student housing investment opportunity. For more information on how to invest in student housing, feel free to e-mail me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

Do You Need a Building Permit? Your Questions Answered.

Summer is the time when many home owners decide to make renovations or build additions to their properties, but it can be hard to determine which renovations and additions require building permits. Here are some frequently asked questions answered quickly in one place.

Do I need a permit for a pool?

Yes a permit is required for both an in-ground and above ground pool.

Do I need a permit for a deck?

If the height of the deck is greater than 24 inches, then it requires a permit.

How big of a shed can I build before I require a permit?

10 square meters or 108 square feet.

Do I need a permit to re-shingle my roof?

No.

Do I need a permit for new windows?

If you are just replacing them no, but if you are enlarging them yes.

How large of an addition can I build?

This will depend on the zoning of your property and the lot coverage of the existing building.

If I am doing cosmetic work in my home, do I require a permit?

If you are replacing such things as flooring, kitchen cabinets, than no permit is required.

My neighbours fence is falling down, does he have to fix it?

Fences, enclosures, retaining walls and structures appurtenant to a property shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound condition and plumb, maintained free of health or other hazards.

When building a detached garage, how far do I have to be from the property line?

This will depend on the zoning of your property, as well as whether your property is an interior or exterior lot.

For more information visit the City of Niagara Falls website, or contact me at Barbara.Grumme@Century21.ca.

 

4 Tips for a Healthy Picnic

Summer is the season for fun in the sun and outdoor picnics are a popular summertime activity in Niagara. This is not surprising if we take into consideration the region’s unparalleled natural beauty, but when heading out for a picnic with family, friends, or a significant other this summer, remember to stay healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.

1.      Bring plenty of hand sanitizer!

While some picnic facilities have public restrooms, good soap and warm water are usually hard to find when you’re on a picnic. Hand sanitizers are a great way to kill the germs on your hands before eating or coming into contact with others, especially small children.

2.      Bring simple foods

When heading out for an all-day picnic, it can be tempting to bring lots and food and other knickknacks as you worry that you might need them all at some point during the day. Remember that the simplest options are both the easiest to carry and usually the healthiest ones. Instead of greasy foods and five-course meals, bring healthy alternatives like cherry tomatoes, grapes, berries, carrot sticks, celery, olives, cheese cubes, crackers, and sandwiches.

3.      Stay hydrated!

When spending time outdoors on hot summer days perhaps the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking alcoholic beverages like beer may be tempting, but the most effective way to hydrate your body is with cool fresh water. Bring plenty of water in a cooler or frozen and leave it out to unfreeze before enjoying it.

4.      Enjoy a healthy and refreshing desert

While cake, chocolate, and other calorie-rich foods sure taste great, when you are out for a long time on a hot summer day the healthiest and most refreshing option is fruit! Enjoy a slice of watermelon, some grapes, an apple, or a peach and you will feel refreshed without feeling guilty about consuming all those delicious calories.

For more tips about planning a health picnic, or for ideas about great picnic spots in Niagara, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

Raise Your Home Value with Landscaping

Landscaping can increase the value of your home by tens of thousands of dollars, but only if done the right way. According to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2016 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features, landscaping beats out all types of indoor projects when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Nevertheless, a landscaping job that is amateurish and poorly executed can add no value or even decrease the value of your home. With that in mind, here are three tried and true ways to increase the value of your home with landscaping.

1.      Build a Deck or Patio

Decks and patios are always a reliable way to increase the value of your home: a patio costs around $6,400 and recoups 102%. A wooden deck costs around $9,450 and has an even higher recoup of 106%.

2.      Add Color and Texture

Adding plants around your home in a deliberate and well-designed manner can make your home look interesting and eye-catching to potential buyers year-round. Investing in color and texture usually recoups all the money invested, and adding only a few trees can save you hundreds of dollars a year on heating and cooling costs. 

3.      Take Care of Your Lawn!

If you are planning to sell in the next year or so, maintaining a beautiful lawn is a great idea. Lawn upkeep is the easiest and cheapest of all landscaping projects, but it recoups a whopping 303% of your costs. Remember to fertilize, aerate, weed, and rake your lawn, and you will reap the benefits!

Follow these 3 easy steps and you will be well on your way to a more desirable home. For more information on how to increase the value of your home, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

THE VALUE OF HOME MAINTENANCE

Regular home inspection and maintenance is one of the best ways to protect your investment by preserving the value of your home. Following a regular schedule of seasonal maintenance can prevent many of the most common and costly problems before they occur, and this preemptive care will do wonders for protecting your investment and making your home a healthy and safe place to live.

The majority of home maintenance activities are seasonal: springtime is when we check for any damage incurred during the winter, start repairs, and prepare for warmer weather. During the summer it is important to perform maintenance activities such as repairing steps and walkways, painting, and checking the roof and chimney. In autumn you prepare your home for the winter (usually the harshest season for our homes), and in the winter months it is necessary to perform routine maintenance and check your home for potential problems and to take corrective action before the damage gets worse.

Some general maintenance tips include:

1. Make sure that your air vents are not blocked by snow or other debris, both inside and outside the home

2. Check your home for safety hazards, such as a loose handrail, on a regular basis

3. Test the ground fault circuit interrupters monthly by pushing the test button, which will cause the reset button to pop up

4. Make sure that electrical outlets are equipped with safety plugs if there are children in the home

6. Check and clean range hood filters on a monthly basis

By performing regular maintenance activities throughout the year, including important season-specific maintenance, you will not only make your home a healthier and safer place to live for you and your family, but you will also preserve the value of your home. Regular maintenance helps resolve issues before they occur and identifies potential problems before they spiral out of control, so the time you invest in regular maintenance is sure to be rewarded with a higher value for your home.