Should You Invest in Student Housing?

Photo by AntonioGuillem/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by AntonioGuillem/iStock / Getty Images

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.

What Is Victoria Day?

Although today we have come to associate it with long weekends and barbecues, Victoria Day has been observed in Canada since 1845 as a way to honour the birthday of Queen Victoria, who was born on May 24th 1819. The holiday continues to be marked in various ways across Canada, and the observance of Victoria Day in this particular way has always been a distinctly Canadian tradition.

Queen Victoria ruled for 63 years and seven months, longer than that of any of her predecessors, and this period is known as the Victorian Era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. Following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, May 24 was made by law to be known as Victoria Day, a date to remember the late queen, who was deemed the "Mother of Confederation”.

Queen Victoria earned that name because of her close connection to the birth of a unified Canadian state. Before Confederation came about the Queen actively supported it. “I believe it will make [the provinces] great and prosperous”, she told Sir Charles Tupper, one of the principal fathers of Confederation.

It was on 1st July 1867 that Queen Victoria proclaimed the Confederation of the first four provinces of Canada and summoned the first members of the Senate of the new Dominion. To underline the inseparable bond between Crown and Confederation, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, first Prime Minister of the new Canada, whom Queen Victoria received in audience on the eve of the great event, told her that the purpose of Confederation was “to declare in the most solemn and emphatic manner our resolve to be under the sovereignty of Your Majesty and your family forever”. Loyalty to the Crown was the keystone of Confederation, the only common bond that could overcome the strong sectional character and feelings of the provinces. Even the ship that carried the delegates from the Province of Canada to Prince Edward Island for the 1864 Charlottetown Conference that led to Confederation was named the Queen Victoria.

The Victorian Era was a long period of peace, prosperity, "refined sensibilities" and national self-confidence for the United Kingdom. Culturally there was a transition away from the rationalism of the Georgian period and toward romanticism and mysticism with regard to religion, social values, and arts. Gothic Revival architecture became increasingly significant during the period, leading to the Battle of the Styles between Gothic and Classical ideals. It was during the Victorian Era that tea became very popular. In fact, it became so widely liked that ale was displaced as the most favourite of all beverages and tea reigned supreme. The drinking of tea led to the birth of a thing beyond a mere habit or addiction. It became a culture. It was during this time that the term “High Tea” was born.

Happy Victoria Day, and for more information please visit: http://crht.ca/queen-victoria-mother-of-confederation/

LIVE HEALTHY THIS SPRING AND SUMMER

Spring is in the air and summer is right around the corner. This is a time of rebirth, high energy, and living in harmony with nature. In order to make the best out of the outdoor season and lead a healthy and active lifestyle, follow these 4 easy steps.

1.      Embrace LIFE and ENERGY! This is the season of new beginnings, and this is your chance to embrace the new you. You don’t need to wait for the New Year to make new resolutions; in the spirit of the outdoor season, you can choose to be creative, adopt a new positive attitude, eat healthy, and be active right now!

2.      Be ACTIVE! As animal and plant life flourishes all around you, become one with that energy. Walk outside and take in the fresh scents of nature, hear the birds singing, and adopt an exercise program that will help you become your best and healthiest self. Whether you like to jog, bike, practice Yoga or Tai Chi, or lift weights, an active lifestyle is a crucial ingredient for improving your health and overall wellness.

3.      CLEANSE and PURIFY Your Body! With the fruits of nature in abundance and the sun shining its energy upon you, choose to avoid artificial chemicals and the excesses of drugs and alcohol. Eat healthy, drink healthy, and commit to dropping harmful habits like smoking. Good nutrition is nature’s medicine, and a healthy diet is essential for a long and healthy life.

4.      SEIZE THE SEASON! Check your local farmers’ markets for the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables of the organic variety. Now that winter is behind us and fresh produce is once again growing locally, seize the opportunity to stock up on those luscious natural nutrients! There is nothing better than fresh, organic, and locally grown fruits and vegetables, so take advantage of this bounty while it lasts.

The spring and summer season is a time for creativity, vibrancy, and for new opportunities. Seize the benefits of this beautiful season and strive to reach your full potential! There is no time like the present.

5 QUICK TIPS FOR YOUR SPRING GARDEN! 

Spring is the season for gardening, and after the winter cold I absolutely love to get out in the backyard and enjoy the flowers and sunshine while reconnecting to the earth. For me gardening is a great way to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world, and over the years I have learned many tricks that make gardening easier and more efficient. Here are 5 quick tips for your spring garden! 

1.      If you draw your fingernails across a bar of soap you will seal the underside of the nail and prevent dirt from accumulating beneath your fingernails as you work in the garden. Once you work is done, you can remove the soap from your nails with a nailbrush.

2.      The Great Lakes Region is famous for its sudden temperatures swings in the spring, and using clay pots as cloches is a great way to protect young plants from overnight frost and freezing.

3.      If you are steaming or boiling vegetables, instead of pouring the water down the drain pour it over your potted plants. The nutritious vegetable medley will do wonders for the growth of your plants. 

4.      Certain plants such as gardenias, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, and even blueberries require the soil to be on the acidic side, and a great way to acidify your soil naturally is to sprinkle a quarter of an inch of leftover coffee and tea grounds over the soil once a month.

5.      Damping off fungus often attacks young seedlings and this can wreak havoc in your garden. In order to control this pesky occurrence the natural way, simply pour some camomile tea around the base of the seedlings once per week.

These quick strategies have worked great for me over the years, ad I have many more tips and tricks for those of you who are interested. Feel free to drop me a line at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca for more info!

MAY IN NIAGARA FALLS: 5 THINGS TO DO!

May is one of the most beautiful months in Niagara, bringing warm and pleasant weather along with colorful spring plants and flowers. If you are visiting Niagara Falls this spring and you aren’t sure what to spend your time on aside from admiring the Falls themselves, here are 5 great things to do while in Niagara.

1)      Nightly Illumination – If you are visiting from out of town, you may not know that Niagara Falls is quite the spectacle even at night. When the sun goes down the Falls are illuminated with colourful lighting in order to enhance your viewing experience, and you can even enjoy regular firework displays in the Niagara Falls tourist area.

2)      Enjoy the Flowers – Spring is the perfect time to take in the colourful plants and flowers of Niagara, and if you visit the Floral Clock and Floral Showhouse in Niagara Falls you will see the World’s Tallest Flower and a wide variety of other plants and flowers.

3)      Victoria Day Fireworks Spectacular – If you are visiting Niagara Falls on Victoria Day, you can experience the special Victoria Day and Memorial Day Fireworks display that is simply stunning to watch, and it is sure to make your long weekend an unforgettable one!

4)      Perfect Time for Golf – If you really want to take advantage of the warm weather, you can book a Niagara Falls Golf Getaway Package at one of Niagara’s premier golf courses. For more information, visit: http://niagarafallsgolfadventures.com/.

5)      Hike the Niagara Escarpment – Experience unspoiled natural beauty by hiking the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Walk along the Bruce Trail, the famous footpath that connects parks, Niagara landmarks, wineries and forests, and practice healthy living while taking in the incredible sights and sounds of Niagara.

 

Enjoy your stay in Niagara Falls, and if you would like any further information please don’t hesitate to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

Prevent Mold the Natural Way, using Essential Oils!

Springtime is the time of pleasant weather and beautiful flowers, but it is also a time when you really have to watch out for mold growing inside your home. The negative effects of mold are most acutely felt by those who suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune system deficiencies, but living with mold for a long period of time is dangerous for everyone. Mold triggers allergic reactions in many people such as sneezing and a runny nose, and those with asthma may actually experience asthma attacks as a result of mold.

Essential oils can be an effective natural remedy to mold buildup. In particular, Peppermint, Clove, Rosemary, and Cinnamon are among the most effective essential oils against mold and bacteria. A study conducted by the Internet Journal of Microbiology found clove oil to be effective against such bacteria as Staphylococcus and Aspergillus. Furthermore, according to studies conducted at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, Scotland, lavender, melaleuca, thyme, and peppermint demonstrated the strongest killing power against MRSA antibiotic resistant bacteria.


It is advised to use a cold air diffuser in order to diffuse your essential oils so that they can kill the existing mold spores and prevent them from multiplying. Run a dehumidifier through damp spaces such as basements and crawl spaces in moist weather, because studies show that ventilating air is more effective in blowing air out of the house than simply bringing outside air in. Synergistic blends of essential oils are more powerful than individual ones, and the most helpful oils for fighting mold include Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Orange, Spruce, Rosemary, and blends of Biblical Oils. For the most effective result consider using a cold air diffuser, which doesn’t heat up the oils so it doesn’t destroy their anti-bacterial properties. Remember that chemical air fresheners are useless because they merely mask mold and mildew odors (instead of fighting bad bacteria, you are introducing more potentially harmful chemicals into your home).

If left unchecked, the growth of mold can result in serious physical symptoms such as headache, bloody nose, rashes, nausea, diarrhea, and more. If you believe that there might be a serious issue with mold in your home, contact a qualified mold expert rather than attempting to fix the problem yourself.

For more information about the health benefits of Essential Oils, contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

More Than Pretty Colours: The Health Benefits of Daffodils

With springtime upon is it is important to remember that relatively common plants such as the daffodil hold natural healing properties that are beneficial for our health. The daffodil is native to Europe and the British Isles, and it can be found growing throughout Europe and North America. Historically daffodils were appreciated for their beauty, but they were also widely used for the flower’s medicinal properties.

Daffodils are an effective remedy for the cough and cold, and they are believed to have a positive effect on the liver and gallbladder. The plant is said to act as a natural antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant, and it is also used in cosmetic products because of its positive effects on the skin and its pleasant smell.

In addition, daffodils are said to be good for helping to speed up the healing of wounds. It is common practice in some parts of the world to apply crushed daffodils onto wounds and cuts for faster healing and drying. Applying daffodils may also have a soothing effect for people who have suffered burns to their skin.

This spring when you see beautiful daffodils in bloom, remember that their benefits extend far beyond their pleasant appearance. Mother Nature is full of natural health benefits and remedies just waiting to be rediscovered, and if you would like to learn more please don’t hesitate to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

 

Golden Horseshoe Tax on Foreign Investors (Non-Resident Speculation Tax – NRST) to go into effect on May 5th, 2017!

The non-resident speculation tax (NRST) is a 15 per cent tax on the purchase or acquisition of an interest in residential property located in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) by individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada or by foreign corporations (“foreign entities”) and taxable trustees.

Upon the enactment of legislation, the NRST will be effective as of April 21, 2017. 
Binding agreements of purchase and sale signed on or before April 20, 2017 are not subject to the NRST.

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The Ministry of Finance recommends that all transfers registered on or after April 21, 2017, include one of the three statements regarding the Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) as set out in the “Payment of the NRST” section below.

Completing this will become mandatory as of May 5, 2017.  However, during the transition period from April 21 to May 5, 2017, omitting one of these statements will not affect the registration of the transaction or incur penalties.

The NRST applies in addition to the general land transfer tax in Ontario.

The GGH includes the following geographic areas: Brant, Dufferin, Durham, Haldimand, Halton, Hamilton, Kawartha Lakes, Niagara, Northumberland, Peel, Peterborough, Simcoe, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington and York. 

For more information visit: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/bulletins/nrst/nrst.html

Fool's Gold: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Real Estate Investment

pitfalls of real estate.jpeg

Even though real estate is a great investment, it takes more than the luck of the Irish to make money. Most of the world’s wealthiest people have made their millions with the help of savvy real estate investments and for the rest of us, it is fairly easy to make money on real estate, even simply by owning our own home. But there are potential problem areas that one should be aware of whether you are purchasing a home to live in or buying an entire city block. Be sure to work with a realtor who knows the potential pit falls, plan time to do the research and have a team of experts on your side.

For more information feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.


Try the Seller 30-Day Nuclear Option

What’s Holding You Back?

Many home owners holding back on selling their home grapple with a very important dual question:
“Where am I going to go and what’s it going to cost?

With the shortage of listings:

  • the extreme demand due to the influx of buyers spilling into our region,
  • the ensuing frenetic buying with multiple competing buyers vying for the same home, and
  • the guessing game as to how high a listing might sell for beyond list price,

the twofold question is definitely relevant.

More specifically the concerns are: “What if I sell my home, can’t find what I am looking for or keep getting outbid? Now my sale has a set closing date and I have nowhere to go. Even rentals are getting hard to find. Now what am I going to do? I’d just a soon stay where I am.”

Two Possible Solutions to the Perceived Chaos

  1. We’ve had cases in which the buyer was either an investor or had alternate accommodation. So the buyer agreed to close the deal and rent the home to the seller, giving the seller four to six months to find another home to move to. This could be for the purchase of a resale or the purchase of a new home being built.
     
  2. We’ve also had situations in which the seller agreed to sell the home on condition that they find suitable accommodation within a given period of time. The condition might be for two weeks and even thirty days. In today’s frenzied market some buyers are willing to wait.

Hence the 30-Day Nuclear Option to Sell

Given these possibilities, one of our salespeople recently had two different sellers agree to list their properties with a condition of thirty days for the seller to relocate; and succeeded in finding them another home to buy. No, it’s not perfect and it doesn’t work all the time. It does, however, protect the sellers. If they don’t find another home to buy or don’t successfully compete on a purchase or two, the deal is off and they get to stay in their home.

Condition Can Start After Buyer Conditions, if any

In addition, sellers can also make the condition start after the buyers have removed all of their conditions, if any. Say the buyers have a mortgage and a home inspection condition. The seller’s “satisfactory suitable accommodation” condition doesn’t start until the buyer has removed his two conditions. In this heated market, many accepted offers have few if any conditions, so the thirty days can start right away.

It’s a Risk-Free Approach

Granted, making the move is not foolproof. Yet the “30-Day Nuclear Option to Sell” does eliminate risk: you don’t buy another home, you stay put. If a seller is getting a lot of interest some buyer might readily agree. The buyer might even consider closing and renting to you temporarily before your conditions expires to not lose the purchase.    

5 QUICK TIPS FOR HEALTHY SPRING CLEANING

Spring is finally upon us (at least according to the calendar) and with springtime comes spring cleaning! Keeping the home clean and healthy for our loved ones is extremely important, but cleaning with strong chemical agents can actually cause more harm than good. Here are 5 quick tips to keep your home clean and healthy this spring without resorting to harsh chemicals.

1.      Don’t Forget to Clean Unlikely Areas. For example, your mattress attracts allergy-causing dust mites and washing it in hot water of 60 degrees Celsius every month and wiping the top of the mattress with hot water will help keep that important area clean. Other areas that are often neglected include indoor trash cans, shower curtains, HVC filters, automatic dishwashers, and the fireplace.

2.      Old Wool Clothing is Great for Dusting! Because wool creates static when rubbed on a surface that needs cleaning, one wipe can keep your furniture dust-free without forcing you to resort to a chemical polish or spray.

3.      Clean Toilet Bowls the Healthy Way. Simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, pour a capful of white vinegar into the toilet, and then proceed to spray the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle sodium bicarbonate in the toilet and wait 15 minutes before scrubbing with a bit of bicarb sprinkled on the brush. Lastly, pour 250ml of vinegar into the toilet once a month and leave it to sit overnight. The vinegar will dissolve alkali build-up and prevent hard-water rings in the toilet.

4.      Toothpaste is a Healthier Way to Polish Silverware. Chemical polishes for silver are known to contain harmful ingredients such as ammonia and petroleum distillates. If you simply rub on some toothpaste to the silver surface then rinse with warm water and polish with a soft cloth, you will achieve a similar result in a healthier way.

5.      Keep Drains Clean without Chemicals. Chemical drain cleaners contain toxic ingredients like sulphuric acid and they can be extremely dangerous, not to mention that even the vapours that they give out are harmful. If you pour some boiling water and throw a handful of bicarbonate followed by 125ml of vinegar down the drain once a week, you will keep the drain cleaner for longer without resorting to harmful chemicals.

Happy spring cleaning! For more tips, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

SPRINGTIME IN NIAGARA: ENJOY THESE GREAT ATTRACTIONS FOR FREE!

 

Spring in Niagara is a beautiful time, and there are countless of fantastic sights and attractions to enjoy in the Niagara Region at this time of year. But even though Niagara Falls is a massive destination for tourists from all around the world who spend millions of dollars in the city every year, there are also some magnificent attractions in Niagara that you can enjoy for FREE.

The floral clock and the botanical gardens along the Niagara Parkway fall into this category. The floral clock is made up of up to 16,000 carpet bedding plants and the floral design is changed twice a year. It features viola in the Spring and four cultivars of Alternanthera along with green and grey forms of Santolina Sage during the Summer and Fall.

The grounds surrounding the clock feature bedding displays and a tower at the back of the clock houses Westminster chimes that greet each quarter hour. If the door into the tower is open, you can take a glimpse at the clock mechanism and enjoy photographs that show the history of almost every face design all the way back to 1950.

Not far from the floral clock and also along the Niagara Parkway are the Niagara Parks’ Botanical Gardens. This beautiful garden setting is home to the Butterfly Conservatory and serves as the unique outdoor classroom for students attending the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture.

Established in 1936, the Botanical Gardens are made up of 40 hectares (99 acres) of beautifully maintained gardens. Enjoy perennials, rhododendrons, azaleas, formal parterre garden, shade, herb and vegetable plantings, as well as our world-famous rose garden featuring over 2,400 roses. Best of all, admission to the Botanical Gardens is free! (NOTE: If you are driving, there is a parking fee of $5.00).

So get out and enjoy springtime in Niagara! For more tips on great Niagara Falls attraction that you can enjoy for FREE, feel free to contact me at Barbara.Grumme@century21.ca.

Low Rate Mortgage Can be Highly Restrictive

One basis point on a mortgage amounts to 1/100th of 1%

In an interesting article by the Editor of CanadianMortgageTrends.com, Mr. Robert McLister wrote that one 1 basis point (bps) equals one one-hundredth of one percent or .01%. So on a $300,000 mortgage 1 bps represents “a scant $1.49 a month” in the mortgage payment. What’s even more insightful is Mr. McLister’s following statement, “From the way some folks select a mortgage, however, it might as well be $149 a month.” The article was published May 18, 2015.

Lowest rates have spawned restrictive or “no frills” mortgages

Still today, mortgage hunters tend to shop for a mortgage strictly on the lowest rate offered regardless of terms. This generates offers with as little as 1-2 bps compared to the next lowest competitor. As a side effect, these low rates come with a variety of restrictions generally ignored at time of purchase. 

 “No Frills” mortgages reduce prepayments and more

These restrictions can have any number of limitations: reduce the prepayment privilege, make a payout before maturity highly expensive or more difficult than normal to discharge, increase the penalty if increasing the size of the loan whether moving or renovating.

Specific examples of limitations 

Gidia Molinaro, mortgage agent for Centum Omni Mortgage Corp. notes some of the following difficulties with “No Frills” mortgages:

  • A rate sale with a low term often limits the prepayment option to only 5% per year compared to the typical 15-20%. If you plan on prepaying from an employment bonus or income tax rebate, this restricts the amount you can prepay to reduce your mortgage.
     
  • You might have prepayment privileges but can only payout the mortgage in full upon sale of the property.
     
  • If you have a mortgage which doesn't allow payouts unless the home is sold, you might not be able to refinance for more money with the same lender.
     
  • If you want to refinance during the term, it has to be with the same lender. Your current rate on the existing mortgage and the increase will result in a blended rate. Typically the result is a higher rate.
     
  • If you choose a promotional mortgage, your are teased with an extremely low rate for the first year or two; after the rate jumps up to say the posted rate. This usually ends up costing more than a fixed five year mortgage.

FUN FACTS ABOUT SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, but how much do most of us actually know about this special day? Here are 5 fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day that you might not have known about!

1.      St. Patrick’s Day was once synonymous with the colour blue, not green! “Saint Patrick’s blue” was a light shade of blue that was associated with St. Patrick, but the colour green came to represent St. Patrick’s day in the late 18th century after the holiday became linked to the Irish independence movement.

2.      St. Patrick wasn’t Irish! Although he is celebrated as the “Apostle of Ireland” and Ireland’s primary patron saint because he introduced Christianity to Ireland in 432 A.D., St. Patrick himself was most likely Welsh or Scottish.

3.       The shamrock represents the Holy Trinity. St. Patrick is said to have used the three-leaved clover to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) to the pagan Irish.

4.      The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade dates back to the 1760s. The year 1762 is when the earliest known parade probably took place, and not in Ireland but in New York City!

5.      Drinking alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day is a modern practice. Despite often being associated with drinking alcohol (and especially beer), St. Patrick’s Day was once a strictly religious holiday, and bars and pubs in Ireland were actually closed for business on March 17. It was only in 1970, when St. Patrick’s Day became a national holiday in Ireland, that the idea of drinking alcohol to mark the occasion really took root.

Did you know all of these fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day? Before doing my research, I sure didn’t! Just remember: it takes more than the luck of the Irish to make money in real estate. When buying or selling your largest investment, having an experienced realtor on your side is the smartest bet. Feel free to give me a call anytime at 905-356-9100.