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Home for the Holidays

150 150 Chris

The Toronto real estate sector has given countless families the opportunity to celebrate the holidays in the comfort of their very own residence. Owning your own home means being able to decorate it as you wish, being able to create rituals and being able to build memories that will carry through for a lifetime. Our own memories of holiday happiness are all directly linked with our familial homes and the fun of gathering there with family and friends every year to celebrate during the festive season.

Even though it has been years since we have all grown up and left the nest, we all inevitably flock back to our parents’ homes every holiday season to decorate our trees, bake seasonal treats and catch up with all that we have missed in each other’s lives over the past year. Sometimes it is the one time of year where we can all get together given the distance that separates us and the hectic schedules all families tend to fall into when children are young, careers are on the rise and time is at a premium.

Finding the perfect home for your holiday celebrations can be tough when faced with a red-hot property market such as what we have experienced over the past decade-and-a half in Toronto and its surrounding suburbs. However, when there is a solid financial plan in place and you have the assistance of an experienced realtor behind you, then locating that hidden gem in the location of your choice is possible.

Although holiday home sales are few and far between, sometimes it is the best time to find a great deal. Usually people tend to put house hunting on the back burner for the holidays in order to focus on preparing for the festive season. However, Toronto properties that have been languishing on the market or new listings can sometimes be had for very good prices when owners want to start new by closing the year with a sale.

Regardless of when you purchase your home, owning your own pad will mean having a place for your family to experience the joy of the holidays for years to come.

Toronto Home Decorating Ideas for the Holidays

150 150 Chris

During the holidays Toronto homes turn into stunning examples of creativity and originality as homeowners enthusiastically decorate their properties to reflect the festive atmosphere. Not only does a decorated home add to the beauty of the structure, but the softly reflecting lights brighten the snow surrounding the property and add a gentle, ethereal glow to the setting. Driving down streets where each home is decorated in this manner can be a truly enchanting experience – something that we’re sure most of you recognize.

Getting your home ready for the holidays doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive undertaking. While the traditionalists will want to trim their houses with lights, there are simple, easy ways to spruce up your dwelling for the season without breaking your bank or spending time-consuming hours stringing lights up. A great way to brighten your home is to simply add colorful, holiday-themed accents to the existing structures of your house. For instance, tie an ever-green branch and a sprig of holly to your mail box using red ribbons, or create a tower of trees in your unused flower pots using extra ornaments and hot glue.

Holiday wreaths can easily be made out of twigs and branches twisted around a metal frame using florist wire – add a few ornaments and tie it off with a wide, colorful ribbon and you have home-made beauty for your front door. Another DIY idea for a holiday wreath is to create one by hot-gluing extra ornaments together to form a circle; again, tying a bright ribbon around it is the ideal way to hang it. If you are worried about scratching your door, cutting a strip of felt and using hot glue to secure it to the back of the wreath will create a soft barrier between it and your door.

When it comes to lighting, instead of using traditional lights that cost a fortune in electricity, it is worth investing in LED lights that will last longer, provide the same kind of glow but will also save on energy costs. Another great idea when it comes to exterior holiday lighting is to purchase solar-powered lights. Relatively new to the market, these lovely lights charge during the day to twinkle at night. Perfect for people who don’t want the hassle of plugging lights in, turning them on and worrying about removing them after the holidays, they can be purchased at any number of big box stores as well as online.

Toronto homes never look better than during the holiday period. If you want some terrific decorating ideas, you can always turn to the internet for hundreds of inexpensive and creative ways to spruce up your place for the season.

Toronto’s Trendiest Neighbourhoods

150 150 Chris

Toronto has always had its fair share of hip and happening communities – those gems of art, culture, indie businesses and street-cred. Homebuyers interested in living in or near such neighborhoods require more than just a roof over their heads – they want a community where artists, students, mom-and-pop shops, restos and galleries thrive. They want a community – not just a neighborhood. They want to participate and they want to engage. So, where are those happening hot-spots right now? Read on for a look at four of Toronto’s trendiest neighborhoods.

Queen Street West
Toronto’s Queen Street West community was given a recent shout-out by no less than Vogue Magazine as the second-best place to find the “hippest street-style in the world.” In its September 2014 issue the iconic magazine ran a spread entitled, “Global Street Style Report: Mapping Out the 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World.” The neighborhood was recognized for its concentration of “indie patisseries, homegrown labels, and hidden-from-view galleries.” With such a ringing endorsement from the world’s foremost tastemakers, there is little doubt that this hotspot delivers everything required from a trendy borough.

The Annexe
When it comes to street-cred, students have it all figured out; that is why The Annexe is number two on our shortlist of trendy spots to nest in Toronto. Roughly encompassing the area surrounding the University of Toronto, the area abounds with cheap eats, book stores and rep houses and other forms of entertainment. Although primarily filled with student housing, growing numbers of people are snapping up real estate to convert back into single-family homes given the area’s proximity to downtown, the large, tree-lined streets and the beautiful properties that are available. If you don’t want to spend your evenings at home and you want to be in the heart of the action, then The Annexe is definitely the place for you.

The Beaches
Another trendy Toronto neighborhood is The Beaches. Encompassing the beaches of Balmy, Scarborough, Kew and Woodbine, the popular stretch downshifts from the frenetic vibe of the first two hotspots on this list into something far more relaxed. Catering to those who want a laid-back setting and lifestyle services such as yoga studios, cafés, specialty shops and holistic healing centres, The Beaches also boasts a fantastic boardwalk, biking trails and lovely parks.

The Distillery
Probably one of the most captivating neighborhoods is that of The Distillery district. Formerly home to the city’s distilleries, the gorgeous collection of Victorian industrial buildings has been transformed over the last ten years into a veritable museum of repurposed functionality and is now home to brilliant craftspeople and artisans and is considered the city’s premier destination for arts, culture and entertainment. Even National Geographic Travel was impressed enough by the neighborhood to include it in its piece entitled, “A Virtual Walk Through Toronto.”

For information on other places offering a rich cultural setting in Toronto, go to //www.blogto.com/.

Affordable Toronto Neighborhoods for Families

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Toronto real estate has been on the rise for well over a decade now – a trend that has prompted the spread of the city to the suburbs where housing is often far more affordable for families. However, with hour-long commutes and increased stress for families who want to balance work and life properly, a growing number of young homebuyers are returning to the city. The problem, however, lies in how a family can to live close to work while still being able to afford their mortgage? Here we will explore those neighborhoods that offer a good compromise for families – with characteristics such as affordability, proximity to good schools, accessibility of transportation and/or highways and community services.

We will start off with the first community: Vaughan Road. Quickly shedding its negative reputation, this central neighborhood is seeing rapid gentrification. Running northwest between Bathurst Street and Oakwood Avenue, this up-and-coming neighborhood still boasts single family homes on good-sized lots for under $600,000. Given its ideal location very near the downtown core as well as the access it offers to transit, Vaughan Road definitely gives value for money.

Our next affordable Toronto neighborhood runs along Lake Shore Blvd West between Parklaw Road and Islington Avenue. Mimico used to be a low-income community with properties selling in the mid-$300,000 range. The trend is changing, though, as new condo developments and word-of-mouth are edging the price points of this neighborhood up. While increasing in price, families can still find exceptional value with most listings selling for just over $700,000 for single family homes and just under $600,000 for semi-detached properties.

Dufferin Grove Park is the next neighborhood that is attracting new homebuyers in the Toronto real estate sector. Area residents have created and maintain quality services that the community in general works hard to continue. As the population of the neighborhood changes, so too are the businesses that run along College and Dundas. Store owners are reinventing themselves to better serve today’s generation. Although listings are still in the mid-$500,000 range, often times properties are selling for above asking.

For families looking outside of the central neighborhoods, to the west of the city Lorne Park is definitely a current hot-spot. With a higher price-point, it will be more attractive to affluent buyers, but it still offers terrific value for the money spent – with bigger lots and more home than buyers can get elsewhere in the west end.

Ajax and Whitby are the best bet for families looking to settle in the east of the city. While housing prices in these areas are up from last year, they are still significantly lower than anywhere else in the city and a very good investment for first-time buyers.

Lastly, the best school district in the city is located towards the North in areas such as Markham. If good schools are what you want in your neighborhood, then heading up is where you should go – especially with housing still in the mid-$500,000 range in many instances.

For more insight check out the articles over here //on.thestar.com/163p00N and here //bit.ly/MvzvR5 .

Toronto’s Ritziest Neighbourhoods

150 150 Nisha Muire

Luxury living in Toronto is not hard to find. In fact, when it comes to posh places to reside in Canada’s bustling metropolis there are a number of hot spots from which to choose. With the cost of Ontario’s real estate market reaching ever new heights every year, the criteria for luxury living must take into consideration more than just the cost of housing – which could otherwise skew statics. The ritzier communities have an overall higher average household saving and overall higher average wage than in other neighbourhoods. The communities also tend to be closer to the city core and are mature spots that feature country-like environs. Here we will discuss the three most luxurious areas in Toronto according to the average household net worth, the average annual income and the average house price as compiled by Canadian Business Magazine and surveyed by Environics Analytics.

 

  1. York Mills – Windfields

 

Despite its industrial past, the York Mills area is the most affluent neighbourhood in the city. Today, the community boasts businesses and residential properties nesting together in a charming and serene natural setting. The area’s beauty is dissected by the main arteries of both Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue, which lead direct to the city center. Offering easy access to the downtown core, proximity to businesses and lifestyle services, it is clear why York Mills is a magnet for those wanting a suburban lifestyle, but with an easy commute to all that the city has to offer. Here is how the statistics breakdown for this community.

 

Average Household Net Worth: $21.55 million
Average Annual Household Income: $1,212,275
Average House Price: $3.40 million [i]

 

  1. Forest Hill

 

Forest Hill is another very popular area with those who want luxury living. Forest Hill has a long history and plenty of character to go with it. Divided loosely into the upper and lower sections, with the very picturesque Forest Hill Village being located in the upper part of the community, the neighbourhood’s homes are grand manors designed to impress with their custom architectural elements and impeccable landscaping. High-end shopping, fine dining and good schools are all part of the prestigious package found in this elite area.

 

Average Household Net Worth: $10.63 million

Average Annual Household Income: $629,972

Average House Price: $3.18 million[ii]

 

  1. Lawrence Park North

Lawrence Park North does not just earn its rank as the third most prestigious area to live in the GTA because of the wealth it holds, it is also considered one of the best because of the friendliness of the community and supportive atmosphere created by its residents. According to an article published in The Star, the neighbourhood scored a 92.05% on criteria including health, education and walkability[iii]. In the same article, Councillor Jaye Robinson is quoted as saying that the neighbourhood’s sense of community is inspiring to witness.

Average Household Net Worth: $10.44 million

Average Annual Household Income: $906,266

Average House Price: $2.81 million

[i] //bit.ly/1rWMqPe

[ii] //bit.ly/1yU40CT

[iii] //on.thestar.com/1yUe0fC

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