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Prep Your Garden Beds for Winter

150 150 Nisha Muire

Once the last flower has faded from your Toronto garden and a chill can be felt in the morning air, it is time to start thinking of closing up your beds and preparing them for the winter months. While it is true that you can simply leave everything as is and wait until spring to tackle the clean up – it is best to get it down in the fall so that your garden and your plants are able to rest properly and so are better prepared for spring when it arrives.

FLOWER BEDS
If you have flower beds, then what needs to be done will depend on whether you have perennials or annuals in your Ontario garden. Annuals need simply to be removed and discarded once they have finished blooming and start to die. Perennials are a different story altogether. Depending on the type of perennials in your garden you will want to treat them differently.

Ornamental grasses: Although tradition says that they need to be cut back in the fall, some of these grasses are so pretty and keep their shape and colour all winter long, that some gardeners won’t cut them back until early spring – and some just prefer to keep them all year round to enjoy their wheat-colored beauty.
Flowers with seed heads: Some flowers with seed heads can be left through the winter even if you cut back the foliage. The seed-heads feed wintering birds through the cold days and even provide a sort of shelter from the snow for the garden bed. So, the seed heads can be left intact until the spring time.
Other perennials: The rest of the perennial flowers can be cut back in late fall to prepare them for the winter.
Evergreens: Resist the urge to prune your evergreens until the spring. If they are large then consider covering them with a burlap wrap and securing them with a tie to help them keep their shape under heavy snow.

VEGETABLE GARDENS

Preparing your vegetable garden for winter is rather straight-forward. Simply pull up your old plants, fertilize your garden (after checking to make sure you have the right pH balance), work the soil by tilling and then protect it by covering with mulch or by planting a cover crop that you don’t intend to harvest. Cover crops are simply crops that will protect your topsoil from eroding or washing away. Furthermore, it can be tilled into the soil in the spring for added nutrition. If you have perennial crop plants, cut back old stalks and then cover them with mulch to protect them through the winter.

With just a little time and effort you and your garden can rest easy knowing that all will be ready for when springs rolls around again.

Buying a Toronto Condo or House Off-Plan

150 150 Nisha Muire

Toronto’s property market has yielded excellent returns on investment over the last decade-and-a half, so it is not surprising that so many people are eager to jump into this booming sector before they are completely priced out. As it is the cost of buying a home in the city is prohibitive for many young executives and families. One of the better ways to find the right property in the right location at the right price is to buy off-plan. All this means is that you will be buying the place from the developer’s blueprints and specs.

A Matter of Research
Although buying off-plan might seem like a huge risk, if you do your research properly, it is one of the best ways to guarantee an increase in your investment almost immediately. While there are risks to buying off-plan, you can mitigate them by knowing the developer, researching their other developments, finding out whether they have any outstanding complaints against them, finding out what customers who bought in their other developments have to say about them and gauging the level of interest in the project.

What to look for
Naturally the first thing to look for in an off-plan project is location – this holds true for either condos or single-family homes. You will want the development to be close to shopping and transportation and close to whatever else you might deem necessary such as:
lifestyle services
schools
parks
entertainment

You should also look for the amenities that the project will contain and the number of phases projected for the development. If you are buying off-plan for phase one and there are four more phases planned, then get ready to live with constant construction in your backyard for several years while the rest of the phases are completed. If there are going to be several phases all sharing the same facilities, then you might run into a question of crowding and your complex will have high traffic.

Price
The cost of buying off-plan will be another consideration. Naturally you will want to bargain for the best price, but don’t be afraid to ask the developer to throw in upgrades such as better appliances, counters or finishes.

Price will be easier to negotiate on projects that are not selling as fast as hot-properties. Also, the number of upgrades you want will affect your bottom line. However, keep in mind that getting the upgrades you want now is far smarter than renovating later on, so spending a bit more up front is definitely worth it in the long run.

Included in the price category are the ancillary costs that you will be called upon to pay later on – maintenance fees, utility fees and infrastructure fees. Make sure that those costs won’t negate any savings you made in buying off-plan.

Buying off-plan guarantees you a minimum 10% return on your investment. As most people are skittish about investing in something that hasn’t yet been built, developments are always priced about 5% lower than when it is built. When a project is finished the price increases by about another 5%. So, if you are willing, buying from a plan is one of the best ways to ensure your real estate buying dollar goes as far as it can.

First Time Fixer-Upper In Toronto

1024 683 Chris

First-time homebuying in any city can be stressful, when it’s in a city like Toronto where the property market is sizzling, the pressure to find a good deal is even greater. Many buyers who want the best value for their money opt to invest in a fixer-upper. Here are some answers to the concerns you may have as a first-time home buyer of a property with potential.

The number one piece of advice for anyone buying a fixer-upper is to find a good inspector in your area qualified for the type of house you are buying. If you are thinking about buying an older home, make sure you tell the inspection service that you are in need of someone who is knowledgeable about homes of that age. If you suspect that there are structural problems, then calling in a contractor to check out the property is a good idea. In fact, having a contractor take a look at the house will also get you get a better estimate of what you might expect to spend.

When it comes to renovating a fixer-upper, be sure to know your budget and how much each project will cost. The very first thing you should do is to ensure that your infrastructure is solid. If there are any electrical problems to address or plumbing kinks you want to work out, then that is what you should tackle first. Once your infrastructure is good, then you will want to start with the projects that are most important first. Kitchens and bathrooms are where the bulk of your money should go after infrastructure as these two areas will immediately boost the resale value of your home. Budget according to what each project should cost, but allow room for unforeseen problems that might arise.

While renovating a home may seem like the easy route to your dream house, you have to be aware of your financial boundaries. Over budgeting or cost overruns can creep up on you and can cause major dilemmas. Making sure that you do not face these potential problems can be as simple as planning for contingencies, paying a lot of attention to project planning and constantly tracking your progress. If you do get in over your head, take a deep breath and consider the following options: seeking more funding, reducing the project scope, and reassigning your resources to lower cost ones.

The next crucial piece of advice to remember is to be realistic about how long it will take to renovate – usually double what you estimate as most projects will take longer than anticipated. Deciding if you want to live in a house under construction or want to find somewhere else to stay while doing major work is essential to maintaining your sanity and relationship (if you are in one) intact. Unless you’re okay with sleeping in an unfinished house with sawdust and power tools hanging about, finding a place to recharge comfortably every night would be a good idea.

For some couples, rebuilding a home is a fantastic bonding experience, for others it can cause tension and tears. Couples often forget or may not even know that remodeling a home is extremely taxing on a relationships and can put a huge strain on the people involved. Your tolerance will be put to the test through the demanding and strenuous work in renovating your first house together. Making compromises, communication, picking your battles, knowing your limits and not being afraid to ask for help are some key factors in having your relationship survive a remodel.

Choosing to buy a fixer-upper has its rewards; while it may involve hard work, careful planning and patience, it will all be worth it in the end when you have the house of your dreams at the price you wanted.

Ontario’s Real Estate Market & Urbanization

150 150 Nisha Muire

Ontario’s real estate market is still in a very health place. Although many forecasts predict that Canada’s real estate sector is heading towards a softening and a dip in housing prices with a rise in interest rates, one of the variables that will actually help keep prices up is urbanization. With the cost of living rising, the time spent commuting getting longer and the wish for a balanced lifestyle becoming more prevalent, younger buyers are trending towards moving back into the city.

There was a time when Toronto families and first time buyers would automatically ditch their urban digs to scout out a home with a yard and for a quieter existence away from the bustle. Not only were they looking for the dream of white picket fences and a haven away from the work-a-day world, they knew that their real estate investment dollars would go a longer way outside the core. Today’s home buyers, however, are eschewing the path of their parents and are increasingly looking to put down roots in metropolitan areas. Favoring a short commute and easy access to services, the younger demographic is keen on staying close to their workplaces and connected to the lives they already know.

The push towards urbanization means that developers are increasingly looking towards plots for building that are close to urban centers. The trend for such housing has also come to Toronto where growing numbers of young families are choosing to renovate their existing property instead of selling for something bigger; they are choosing location over space.

Such a trend is good news for Toronto’s property market as it means that prices will not flatline or fall as is being widely projected for the Canadian housing market in 2015. Should a rise in interest rates occur, it will impact new homeownership as well as affect those with looking to renew their existing mortgages, which will in turn put pressure on housing prices. However, with low availability in urban markets with mixed high demand for residential units, prices are not expected to drop significantly, if at all.

For those interested in urbanization and emerging trends in Canadian real estate, there is a good article over here //pwc.to/11PsNw2 that covers it in a global way.

Canadian Housing Market Outlook 2015

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Real estate in Canada has seen steady growth for many years now. The Canadian real estate market has defied global trends by outperforming markets in other countries year after year. Even after subprime mortgages led to the near collapse of the US housing market in 2008[1] and the dire predictions that Canada’s real estate sector was sure to follow, we continued to post gains in our residential property market. The strength of our real estate sector is due in large part to continued low interest rates, a mortgage market largely insured by the government-funded (taxpayer funded) CMHC and stricter lending practices than in the US. However, according to many experts, the gain train might be slowing. In 2014 the global residential property market was uneven with countries either showing growth or softness depending on the nation’s economy. Canada is one of the countries that came out ahead in this respect, posting housing price increases of 6% year-over-year. While this is a reflection of the country’s average increase, it really is an expression of the strong gains seen in the prime markets of Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto[2]. Short-to-Medium Term Outlook The short-term outlook for the Canadian housing market including the Toronto residential property sector remains rosy but cautious as talk of rising interest rates might dissuade first time buyers from entering the market. However, as interest rates have not yet started to rise, it is likely that those who want to get into the real estate market before the rates increase will do so in the short term. As Toronto is one of the country’s most expensive housing markets, it can expect to see a growth of less than 3%[3], which is less than half of what is projected for the rest of the country. However, given the cyclical nature of the property market, experts are expecting that the upward trend will start to slow and the sector will enter a downward phase in the medium-term. According to Scotiabank’s Global Real Estate Trends Report published on Oct. 9, 2014: “We expect home sales will slow in 2015 and beyond alongside a gradual upward drift in borrowing costs, tempering new and resale prices over the next several years.” While Toronto’s property prices are considered to be stretched in the metropolitan areas, the suburbs and the larger Ontario real estate market have a more moderated outlook as valuations have not yet been saturated by accelerated growth. However, given the attractiveness of living in the urban centre and the desire by many new home owners for a shorter commute to their workplace and a distinct trend in leading a “green lifestyle” by living and working within walking distance of all services, don’t expect housing prices in Toronto’s core to drop by very much either in the short term or the long term. [1] //bit.ly/1y55APD [2] //bit.ly/1z9uEad [3] //bit.ly/1z9uEad

Toronto Real Estate

150 150 Nisha Muire

Toronto real estate is one of the hottest commodities in Canada. Despite years of negative predictions from economists as to the sustainability of the Ontario home sale market, housing sales have defied the naysayers and continued their upward trend. With interest rates persisting at record low levels, greater numbers of first home buyers are able to join the ranks of proud home owners. The demand for housing has fueled a thriving and profitable market that continues to expand. Naturally when it comes to home buying and selling, consumers have a lot of questions that need answering and require a lot of guidance – especially if new to the game.

Imaginahome has been an integral part of the Toronto real estate industry for over a decade now. We have watched the housing market grow and change from the inside. We have access to information and professionals who can answer any question you might have. We realized through our daily contact with agents and home buyers and sellers that there is a real need for information regarding Ontario housing and so we have decided to share our knowledge and insight with you.

We will begin by posting bi-weekly articles related to the Ontario real estate market. We will discuss everything from buying your first home to flipping your fifteenth property to creating a realistic budget so that you can easily maintain the lifestyle you desire even after purchasing your residence.

Topics that we will cover include:
– Different Neighbourhoods
– Home Buying
– Home Selling
– Real Estate Trends
– Home Renos
– Creating a Green Home
– Landscaping

And so much more… As we move forward, we will also add a section where you can Ask An Expert; where you will be able to ask a realtor your question and we’ll get a Toronto real estate industry professional to answer for you. We’ll also post interesting news related to the real estate market in Toronto and the rest of Canada. In short, if it affects you – you’ll know about it!

We are excited about sharing what we know with you. We enjoy all things real estate and we are thrilled to be a in a position to help others. So, visit us often for the latest news and articles. Don’t forget to leave us comments so we know what you think and how best to serve your needs.

– The Imaginahome Team