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2020 so far might not be the year we envisioned counting down to midnight on the 31st of December, but when we look back at this extraordinary experience in half a year's time, how do you want to feel?


Getting started on whatever your goal is can often be the biggest hurdle to overcome, but staying motivated and disciplined day in and day out despite uncontrollable circumstances is a skill only the strongest of us will learn to master. Think about that DIY home project that you embarked on in the spring, with all the materials now laying somewhere in the shed. Think about that new diet you promised yourself to stick to a few weeks ago, before all the restaurants started offering amazing discounts on delivery and takeout. Think about that personal development course you were so excited about, skimming through the first few minutes of the video, before pausing it for the newest episode of your favourite TV show. It's almost impossible not to get sidetracked by everything else life has to offer, but here are some practices to get you re-started on the path to success.


1. DON'T EXPECT PERFECTION

It's almost impossible not to hold ourselves to a higher standard than the people we care about, but that can often do more harm than good when it comes to building the confidence and momentum to get going. If you want to try something completely out of your comfort zone, don't expect results similar to someone who's been practicing for ages. Instead, expect mistakes, and expect a lot of them, because they're the ultimate sign of growth.


2. START NOW

Perhaps you've successfully convinced yourself that you'll start the next month, the next week, or the next day even. How many times have you actually stuck to those deadlines? If there's something you want to accomplish, take a small step as soon as the thought occurs to you, otherwise it'll remain just that, a thought. Momentum builds as you take action, and soon you'll be well on your way to achieving success without a hint of desire to pause for a break.


3. LEISURE CAN WAIT

There's a difference between self care, and mindlessly robbing yourself of valuable time, time that will never come back. Figure out which activities are most effective as a reset button for yourself, make you feel better, and further invigorate you. A tip to follow is that these activities should renew your enthusiasm for getting back to work, rather than induce dread at the idea of it stopping. Schedule start and stop times for breaks, so that a 10 minute pause doesn't snowball into 3 hours of scrolling on your phone.


4. SAY YES

One takeaway we should all have in response to current events is that time and opportunities are limited. Think about all the projects, activities, and hobbies that you would usually say no to, and reflect upon the reason behind your reluctance. Patterns and habits are great for maintaining routine, but if you're finding your day-to-day a little dull and discouraging, sign up for something spontaneous or agree with no questions asked the next time your friend extends a questionable invitation.


There are so many ways to spearhead change if you're finding yourself butting heads with internal or external resistance. Keep in mind that nothing is permanent, and you have all the power you need to make a difference. Cheers to the second half of 2020!

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What a time it is to be alive, and despite all the uncertainty that surrounds us, we can all be grateful and show reverence for this beautiful country and its splendid diversity. Here are some fun facts about this home of ours:
  1. Canada is the number one donut consumer in the world, at 1 billion annually!

  2. Canada produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup - in 2012, someone stole 3,00 tons on Quebec valued at $18 million dollars

  3. The Trans Canada Highway #1 is the longest highway in the world at 7821 km

  4. One tenth of the world’s forests can be found in Canada

  5. Canada has more polar bears than anywhere in the world

  6. Superman was co-created by Canadian Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

  7. Basketball was invented by Canadian Dr. James Naismith

  8. Canada is about the size of 81,975 Disney Worlds put together

  9. Santa Claus’ official postal address H0H 0H0 directs to our very own Montreal

  10. Canada has the world’s longest coastline at 125,576 miles extending over three different oceans

  11. The border between Canada and the United States is the longest border between two nations

  12. Important Canadian inventions include kerosene, the electron microscope, the electronic organ, insulin, the IMAX film system, the snowmobile, and the electric cooking range


Happy Canada Day! Stay safe and have fun with your loved ones!




Sources: https://theplanetd.com/facts-about-canada/

               https://www.factretriever.com/canada-facts

 
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Achieve More Wealth by Creating Financial Goals

Setting a clearly defined and timely goal will help you achieve your desired level of wealth. Once you achieve one goal, reassess and set the bar higher. You'll be on your way to financial success in no time.


1. What is your idea of wealth? Your idea of wealth will change as you earn more money. That’s why it’s vital to set goals along the way. What do you want your net worth to be in 5 years, in 10 years and in 20 years? How comfortably or lavishly would you like to live, and what will it take to get there?


2. Write down your short-term and long-term goals. Once you have determined your goals, write them down. The SMART goal-setting format can help ensure that you're detailed enough to turn a seed of a plan in your head into reality. This is the first step towards getting your desires out of your mind and into motion and it will be easier to refer to them later on. Hold yourself accountable to regular review periods so that you can make the necessary adjustments to existing spending or saving habits.


3. Develop a budget to help you reach these goals. A budget not only helps you understand where your money goes each month, it may also prevent you from overspending without thinking. Automating your savings can play a huge role, as well as using online tracking tools that can effectively record everything in one place. That way you can have more money to save and invest.

           

Your Budget 


$ Income Earned + $ Investments = $ Total Income
$ Total Income - $ Daily Expenses - $ Monthly Bills = $ Total Available for Investment


To increase the amount you can invest, make adjustments to your daily spending and monthly bills, if possible. Look for opportunities to save money and transfer those savings into your accounts.



Purchase Investment Property


Investment properties provide passive income to your growing financial portfolio. More than 25 percent of Americans say real estate is the best way to invest money you may not need for the next 10 years. While many people flip houses to make money—that is, they buy a home at a low price, fix it up and sell it quickly—others purchase multifamily properties to create monthly cash flow to save or to reinvest in other properties.


The longer you own a property, the better investment it becomes as you’ll continue to build equity. While rental costs rise with inflation, your mortgage will remain the same. The best part? Once you pay off the mortgage, your cash flow will increase. Remember to create a budget for maintenance each month, between 10 to 20 percent of the rent you receive, or more if the home is older. This will help you save more money in the long run and allow you to prepare for unexpected repairs.


There are tax benefits to owning investment property as well. You may be able to claim deductions for depreciation, as long as it fits within the guidelines; repairs, travel expenses, interest and more. If you’re thinking of purchasing investment property, talk to your tax professional to get the details.


It’s never too late to begin planning for and building your wealth, particularly passive income. 





Sources: 1. BankRate.com

            2. Pulsenomics, Home Price Expectation Survey Q4 2016

            3. Statistic Brain, August 1, 2016

            4. National Association of REALTORS, Economists’ Outlook, September 8, 2014

            5. The Motley Fool, July 30, 2016

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When you’re buying or selling a home, it’s crucial to work with a qualified real estate agent. Not just a professional, but an amazing agent and a market expert. With so many options to choose from, how does a prospective home buyer or seller choose the right agent or broker? On the flip side, what does an agent have to keep in mind when developing their own brand? According to the National Association of Realtors®, trust and reputation are the top deciding factors consumers use when hiring an agent.


KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR REAL ESTATE GOALS


It's impossible to measure the level of success achieved if neither party is aware of the desired outcome. As a buyer or seller, consider your agent to be your most valuable teammate, and vice versa. Make sure that all parties involved are aligned in terms of overall goal, as well as the overarching strategy right from the start. This will prevent any hiccups along the way and provide a firm foundation for addressing the inevitable issues that may arise.


 

ATTRIBUTES OF AN AMAZING AGENT


Not all real estate professionals are the same, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options and information about working with real estate professionals to buy or sell your home. Here are some characteristics to help you understand what makes top agents and market experts stand apart from the competition:


1. A Pricing Specialist


If an agent has their real estate license, they know the basics of the transaction process. They know what goes into buying and selling a home. However, there’s a difference between knowing the process and navigating it for an ideal result. This ideal result often means buying or selling a home for the best price.


For buyers, amazing agents have a strong understanding of market trends, competition, and how to make your offer attractive to sellers. They can help you identify and secure a deal to ensure you get the home you want, within your desired budget.


If you’re selling a home, market experts have experience pricing homes optimally for the market, and creating pricing plans to minimize the time spent selling the home. This will help you sell for your desired price, and avoid costs like additional mortgage and utility payments.

  

2. An Effective Time Manager


It’s common to underestimate the amount of time it takes to buy or sell your home. The average real estate agent may not be utilizing the latest tools and technology to make the transaction easier and more cost effective for their clients. Market experts have proven tools and strategies at their disposal to minimize the amount of time you spend on the process.


For sellers, market experts can make sure you only deal with qualified buyers, not the “window shoppers” who can waste your time. We also utilize the latest marketing practices to advertise and price your home effectively, ensuring it gets sold quickly.


When looking to buy a home, inexperienced agents may waste your time by showing you homes that are not a good fit for you. A market expert knows how to prioritize your needs and wants to find you the ideal home within your budget. They also know how to spot “red flags” and can steer you away from homes that are likely to turn up major issues in a real estate inspection, saving you time and money.


In addition, well-networked Realtors can gain access to the hottest listings before many websites do. Their extensive professional networks can help identify “pre-list” homes before they’re officially on the market. This can be invaluable in a highly-competitive real estate market.


3. A Market Insider


While most agents can pull market stats about a neighborhood, community or city, they may not understand important trends or developments that would affect your transaction. These can include the state of the school district, issues with a homeowner association, new businesses in the area, zoning rules or trends in home prices. Market experts live and breathe local real estate and know the trigger points for buying and selling in this market. We also stay current on effective marketing and negotiation practices, resulting in our track record of success.


For sellers, we understand what features of your home and neighborhood are assets in the selling process. And for buyers, we share a deep understanding of market factors, including school and neighborhood quality, crime statistics, speed of sales and more.

  

4. A Strong Negotiator


Amazing agents truly set themselves apart in their ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, a large portion of agents don’t commit their full time to increasing this key skill.


Real estate negotiations can be challenging, even for seasoned professionals. It takes skill, experience and a knowledge of how to fight for your client’s best interests. While any agent can enter negotiations to buy or sell a home, they may not know the effective strategies to exit those negotiations with the result you want.

  

5. An Effective Closer


Closing a deal fast is often a good thing. For buyers, it means you found the home you wanted quickly. For sellers, it often means you can avoid the added expenses of mortgage and utility payments, and maximize the value of your home sale. However, an agent solely focused on speed can make decisions that aren’t in your best interests. Top real estate professionals know how to not only achieve your real estate goals quickly, but in the right way to avoid potential pitfalls.


Just like negotiations, the paperwork and process of closing a real estate transaction are complicated. And they can be overwhelming for the average agent who hasn’t handled a lot of transactions. Sales contracts, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and even lead paint records need to be executed with precision. Your agent not only needs to be familiar with these, but also stay current on any changes in requirements or regulations.

  

 


Many people work with the first agent they come across without a firm understanding of their level of experience. It’s always a good idea to interview a number of agents before selecting one. You may want to consider referrals you've gotten from people you trust, as well as reviews that reflect upon their past work.






Sources:

1. National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics

2. Financial Post – http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/canada-housing-bubble-agents/wcm/b49d4e3a-bd8d-4d1c-9566-bd3d80c8e23a

3. National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

4. National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics

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Home buying and selling can be challenging even in what we perceive as 'normal' times, and especially given that nothing is the same today as it was months, weeks, or even days ago, one thing no industry should overlook is messaging.


LISTEN TO YOUR TONE 


It's easy to make assumptions about others and their circumstances when we're not privy to their current lives and everything is portrayed digitally through a screen. Whether you're picking up the phone to catch up with a client or signing in to a video call presentation, pause and think about the effect you want to have on the person on the receiving end and hold onto the mindset for the duration of the interaction. Regardless of whether they can see you or not, your energy and tone carry subtle messages that extend far beyond the words that are heard. Despite increased optimism, buyers and sellers alike may still be convinced to hold off given the uncertainty in the market. Stay positive, be accountable, check in with a personal touch, and follow up gently while focusing on what's best for each client.


PROVIDE EDUCATIONAL CONTENT


An abundance of accurate and relevant information can help alleviate fear and instill new perspectives. In times of uncertainty, transparency is valued; different problems require unique solutions, but the first step is addressing the fact that the 'normal' is actually constantly changing. If you have accumulated knowledge or tips to share, take this time to create, document, and engage your community with what might be valuable insight.


STRATEGIZE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA AND VIDEO PLATFORMS


It's undeniable that humans are social creatures who find comfort and strength in engaging with others. When in person and face-to-face interactions are very much restricted, one of the best ways to replicate communication is through visual, interactive and especially live content. Develop and leverage your social channels to maintain regular touchpoints with new and existing clients, who can easily stay in the loop and a safe distance.

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Regardless of whether or not you're looking to sell your home, it's the first thing you wake up to each morning and the first thing that guests or visitors will have their eyes drawn to. 


Here are some simple, cost-friendly and fun suggestions you can consider to customize the atmosphere you find most appealing, whether that be rejuvenating, lively, classy or homey.


STEP 1: MIRROR MIRROR


Veratile in many ways, mirrors can be put to use in almost any room of your home! There's absolutely no shortage to the styles and colors that they come in, so take advantage of their ability to add dimension, highlight architectural features or add unique accents. 


1) Choose the positioning of your mirror wisely to reflect favoured pieces of artwork or distinctive furniture.


2) Place mirrors opposite of windows, especially in dining or living room areas to give guests a glimpse of the outdoors, regardless of where they're seated.


3) Strategize with tall floor to ceiling windows to elongate and add space to smaller and tighter rooms.


4) Hang mirrors higher to draw the eye to elegant light fixtures and further illuminate the room.


5) Consider a mirrored desk, walls or countertops for a modern and airy look and feel.



STEP 2: DRESS UP THOSE WINDOWS


You want your window coverings to be functional, but also complement and match the tone of your interiors. Depending on how frequently the room is occupied, as well as the general atmosphere you'd like to present, opt to change up what might've just been a forgotten backdrop until now. 


1) Make use of sheer, light coloured curtains if your actual windows are limited in size to maximize the natural light that projects through.


2) Add a timeless touch with full floor to ceiling windows that extend beyond the top of the window frame to contribute a touch of depth and dimension.


3) If fabric coverings are unpractical for you, play around with classic white shades or coloured shutters for a touch of boldness.



STEP 3: THE FLOOR NEEDS ATTENTION TOO


Floor coverings can be functional, decorative, or strike a balance somewhere in between depending on your preference.


1) Size matters here, so check that rugs actually fit your room dimensions and furniture placement, with at least the front legs of chairs or couches touching the rug.


2) Play around and update your rugs and accessories to introduce new color trends or themes, such as with changing seasons.


3) Consider the proper material for spaces in your home with higher traffic, such as ceramic tiles or hardwood flooring, or a harder finished carpet to avoid slippage.


4) Depending on humidity, materials that absorb moisture should be regularly maintained, or properly sealed with a protective coating.

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If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’ve probably received your share of advice from family and friends. Add to that the constant stream of TV shows, news segments, and social media posts that over-simplify the home buying process for easy entertainment.


With so much information to sift through, it can be tough to distinguish fact from fiction. That’s why we’re revealing the truth behind some of the most common home buyer myths and misconceptions. 


Buying a home is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one. If you arm yourself with knowledge and a qualified team of support professionals, you’ll be well equipped to make the right choices for your family and financial future.



 

DON’T FALL FOR THESE COMMON HOME BUYER MYTHS

Myth #1: You need a 20% down payment. 

Plenty of buyers are purchasing homes with down payments that are much less than 20% of the total cost of the property. Today, you can buy a home with as little as 3-5% down.


There are multiple programs out there that allow you to have a lower down payment, and a lender or mortgage broker can talk you through which option is the best for you. Since you’re putting less money down, you’re a riskier borrower to your lender than people who put down a full 20%. Because of this, you will most likely need to pay mortgage insurance as part of your monthly payment.


Myth #2: Real estate agents are expensive. 

Your agent is with you every step of the way throughout your home buying journey, and he or she spends countless hours working on your behalf. It sounds like having an agent is expensive, right? Well, not for you. Buyers usually don’t pay a real estate agent’s commission. Your agent’s fee is paid for at closing by the seller of the home you’re buying.1 The seller knows to factor this cost into the property’s total purchase price. 


Myth #3: Don’t call a real estate agent until you're ready to buy. 

The earlier you bring in an agent to help with the purchasing process, the better. Even if you’re in the very early stages of casually browsing Zillow, a real estate professional can be a huge help. 


They can create a search for you in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), so you get notifications for every house that meets your criteria as soon as it hits the market. The MLS is typically more up to date than popular home search sites like REW.ca and Zillow. Setting up a search a few months before you’re considering buying gives you a good idea of what’s out there in your town that’s in your budget. Reviewing the MLS and speaking with an agent as soon as possible can help you set realistic expectations for when you actually start the house-hunting process. 


Myth #4: Fixer-uppers are more budget-friendly.

We’ve all watched the shows on HGTV that encourage people to go after fixer-uppers because they’re more affordable and allow buyers to eventually renovate the home to include everything on their wish list. But this isn’t always the case. 


Sometimes, homes that need a lot of work also require a lot of money. Big renovations, like add-ons, a total kitchen remodel or installing a pool, take a lot longer than it looks on TV. If you’re really interested in a fixer-upper, ask your agent to show you a mix of newer homes and older homes. If you fall in love with an older home that needs a lot of work, get some quotes from contractors before you buy so you know the real cost of the renovations and see if you can work them into your budget. 


Myth #5: Your only upfront cost is your down payment. 

Your down payment is big, but it isn’t the only money you’ll spend during the home buying process. At closing, you’ll pay your down payment, but you’ll also bring closing costs to the table. Closing costs are typically anywhere from 2-4% of the total purchase price of the home.2 This amount includes the cost for items like homeowner’s insurance, title fees, and more.


You’ll also need to pay for an inspection before closing, which usually costs a few hundred dollars. This price will be higher or lower based on the size of your new property. Your lender will also require an appraisal. An appraiser will come in and inspect the home to determine how much it’s worth. Depending on your lender, you may have to pay this when the appraisal is conducted, or it might be rolled into your closing costs.


Myth #6: You need a high credit score to buy a house. 

You don’t need perfect credit to buy the perfect home. There are loans out there that buyers with lower credit scores can qualify for. These are good options for people who have had credit issues in the past, but some of them come with additional fees you will need to pay. Speak to a few local lenders or mortgage brokers to talk through which options might be best for you. 


Myth #7: You can't qualify for a mortgage if you're still paying off student loans.

While some buyers may feel more comfortable paying off their existing debts before taking the leap into homeownership, it’s not a requirement. When you’re applying for a mortgage, the lender takes a close look at your debt-to-income ratio.If you want to calculate this on your own, add up all of your monthly debt payments and divide those by your monthly income. When your lender does this, they’re trying to make sure that you will be able to afford your monthly mortgage payments along with your other existing payments. If your income is high enough to allow you to make all of these payments each month, having a student loan will most likely not stop you from getting a mortgage. 


Myth #8: You should base your budget on what your lender approves.

How much house you qualify for and how much you can afford are two totally different numbers. When you prequalify for a mortgage, your lender will look at your income, debt, assets, credit score, and financial history to determine how much money you might qualify for.For some people, this number might be much higher than you thought because lenders tend to approve for the highest amount they think you can afford. But that doesn’t mean that’s how much you should borrow. 


Instead, figure out how much house you can actually afford. An online mortgage calculator can be a good first step in determining this number. We recommend thinking about what you want your monthly payment to be as a starting point. And remember to include your principal, interest, taxes, and, insurance. You should also think about ownership expenses that aren’t part of your monthly payment, like HOA dues and maintenance.


Myth #9: It's all about location.

You’ve heard the phrase. Location, location, location is basically the real estate industry’s motto, but we’ll let you in on a little-known secret: It’s not always true. Yes, location is great to consider when it comes to school districts and commute times, but you also need to think about how the home will function for you and/or your family’s lifestyle. If a family of five is choosing between a one-bedroom condo in the bustling city center and a 4-bedroom home out in the suburbs, the latter is probably the best, most functional choice for them. Also, by buying in a less sought-after neighborhood, your property taxes will most likely be much lower! 


Obviously, you might still want to choose an area with great resale potential, and this is something that your agent can speak to you about. They’re an expert in your city and are constantly monitoring buying and selling trends. 


Myth #10: If you look hard enough, you'll find a home that checks every box on your wishlist

You’ve seen that famous house hunting show. And while we have our suspicions about how real it is, the one thing they get right is that almost every buyer needs to compromise on something. Yes, the perfect house that meets every item on your wishlist is probably out there, but it’s also probably double or triple your budget. 


A long wishlist can be a great starting point for figuring out what you want and don’t want, but we recommend narrowing that wishlist down to the top five things that are important to you in order of priority. We also recommend noting on your wishlist what your absolute deal breakers are, like “must have a yard for our dog,” and noting what you can live without, like “heated bathroom floors.” 


This is a great list to discuss when you first start talking to an agent. A good real estate agent will be able to look at your list and find properties that might work for you. By coming to that first meeting with realistic expectations and knowledge about home buying rather than a bunch of myths heard here and there, you’ll be able to start the process off on the right foot and be in your new house in no time. 


 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP 

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, there’s no reason to go through the home buying process without an advocate on your side. We’re here to answer your questions and do the hard work for you, so you can spend your time dreaming about your new home. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.




Sources:

  1. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/realtor-fees-closing-costs/
  2. The Balance - https://www.thebalance.com/buyer-s-closing-costs-1798422
  3. StudentLoanHero - https://studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loans-buying-house/
  4. Zillow -  https://www.zillow.com/mortgage-learning/pre-qualification-vs-pre-approval/
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Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, shopping for a new home can feel daunting. In fact, 56% of buyers said that “finding the right property” was the most difficult step in the home buying process.1


Buying a home is a significant commitment of both time and money. And a home purchase has the power to improve both your current quality of life and your future financial security, so the stakes are high.


Follow these five steps—and complete the corresponding worksheet offered below—to assess your priorities, streamline your search, and choose your next home with confidence.


 

STEP 1: Set Your Goals and Priorities 

The first step to finding your ideal home is determining WHY you want to move. Do you need more space? Access to better schools? Less maintenance? Or are you tired of throwing money away on rent when you could be building equity? Pinpointing the reasons why you want to move can help you assess your priorities for your home search. 


Don’t forget to think about how your circumstances might change over the next few years. Do you expect to switch jobs? Have more children? Get a pet? A good rule of thumb is to choose a house that will meet your family’s needs for at least the next five to seven years.Be sure to set your goals accordingly.


 

STEP 2: Determine Your Budget 

Many financial professionals recommend following the “28/36 Rule” to determine how much you can afford to spend on a home. The rule states that you should spend no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on housing expenses (e.g., mortgage, taxes, insurance) and a maximum of 36% of your gross monthly income on your total debt obligations (i.e., housing expenses PLUS any other debt obligations, like car loans, student loans, credit card debt, etc.).3


Of course, the 28/36 rule only provides a rough guideline. Getting pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage BEFORE you begin shopping for homes will give you a much more accurate idea of how much you can borrow. Add your pre-approved mortgage amount to your downpayment to find out your maximum purchasing potential.


 

STEP 3: Choose a Location 

When it comes to real estate, WHERE you choose to buy is just as important as WHAT you choose to buy.


Do you prefer a rural, urban, or suburban setting? How long of a commute are you willing to make? Which neighborhoods feed into your favorite schools? These decisions will impact your day-to-day life while you live in the home.


Another important factor to consider is how the area is likely to appreciate over time. Choosing the right neighborhood can raise the profit potential of your home when it comes time to sell. Look for communities that are well maintained with high home-ownership rates, low crime rates, and access to good schools, desired retail establishments, and top employers.4



STEP 4: Decide Which Features You Need (and Want) in a Home

Start with the basics, like your ideal number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage. Do you prefer a one-story or two-story layout? Do you want a swimming pool?


Keep in mind, you may not find a home with all of your “wants,” or even all of your “needs” … at least not at a price you can afford. The reality is, most of us have to make a few compromises when it comes to buying a home.


Some buyers will opt for a longer commute to get a larger, newer home in the suburbs. Others will sacrifice hardwood floors or an updated kitchen so that their kids can attend their desired school. 


If you’re faced with a tough choice about how or what to compromise in your home search, return to STEP 1. What were your original goals and motivations for moving? Reminding yourself of your true priorities can often provide the clarity that you need.


 

STEP 5: Meet with a Real Estate Agent 

A good real estate agent can remove much of the stress and uncertainty from the home search process. From setting goals to securing a loan to selecting the best neighborhood to meet your needs, we will be there to assist you every step of the way.


And no one has more access to home listings, past sales data, or market statistics than a professional agent. We can set up a customized search that alerts you as soon as a new listing you might like goes live. Better yet, we get notified about many of the hottest homes even BEFORE they hit the market.


You might guess that the VIP service we provide is very expensive. Well, the good news is, we can represent you throughout the entire home buying process at NO COST to you. It’s true; the home seller pays a buyer agent’s fee at closing. So you can benefit from our time, experience, and expertise without paying a dime. It’s no wonder 87% of buyers choose to purchase their home with the help of an agent.1


And although we’ve listed it here as STEP 5, the reality is, it’s never too early (or too late) to contact an agent about buying a home. Whether you plan to buy today, next month, or next year, there are steps you can (and should) be taking to prepare for your purchase.


Call us today to schedule a free consultation!


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.


Sources:

  1. NAR 2019 Home Buyers & Sellers Generational Trends Report -
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-report-08-16-2019.pdf
  2. Architectural Digest -
    https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/this-is-how-long-you-should-live-in-your-house-before-selling-it
  3. Investopedia -
    https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/twenty-eight-thirty-six-rule.asp
  4. Money Talks News -
    https://www.moneytalksnews.com/20-clues-youre-buying-home-the-right-neighborhood/
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‘What should I make for dinner?’ is o question many of us ask ourselves every day but often don’t have the answer to until it’s too late and we end up with takeout. Here are some of easy, quick and healthy meals that I’ve been loving. There’s so much variety and are often simple ingredients that you already have in your kitchen and meets all food groups.


Ground Turkey Recipes

Turkey is one of my go-to meat preferences. It is true that ground turkey can be dry. Although, when adding the right ingredients, sauces, and seasonings it can make turkey a delicious addition to any dish. Here are some of my favourite ground turkey recipes that you need to try out:


Thai Meatballs



Zucchini-Turkey Burgers






Healthy Stir Fry and Curry

What’s easier than cutting up your favourite veggies, dding a yummy sauce and mixing it in with your favourite rice or pasta options? What makes these recipes healthy is that they are all made from scratch with ingredients that don’t contain any preservatives or complicated ingredients. Another great thing about stir fries and curries is that you can adjust it to load it with various combinations of your favourite veggies and proteins.


Peanut Chicken Noodles


Cauliflower Fried Rice


Let me know if you tried out these recipes! Stay safe and healthy everyone!




Source: iFoodreal

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Self-isolation and social distancing has become the new norm as we do our part to stay safe, healthy and to stop the spread of COVID-19. People everywhere are staying indoors and as much as many of us are appreciating rest and relaxation, it’s bound to happen that people become bored.


Many of us are able to work from home but once we’re done working for the day we often end up binge-watching another Netflix series. 


Here are some mini home projects that will make your space feel brand new:


Source: The Spruce


Paint your kitchen cabinets

 According to the co-founder of Lawson-Fenning, the furniture, and home goods brand designer, Glenn Lawson states one way to brighten and give your kitchen a new feel while on a budget is by painting your cabinets. One of the interior design colours trending this year is muted green or calming blue, maybe it’s time to shake up the kitchen with these soothing and unique colours.



Source: Idecoration


Get your gallery wall up!

I know many of you have saved Instagram and Pinterest posts of gallery walls. This is the time to get on it! There are various ways to create this eye-catching display by having perfect grids, randomized orientation, and/or endless photo combinations. With limitless possibilities, we all have an extreme amount of family photos, art made from kids or art pieces we’ve been inspired by…together you can create a masterpiece.



Source: Wirecutter


Install dimmers

Light dimmers are fairly easy to install and very inexpensive. Being in quarantine at home may not always be the best, so why not add a touch of ambiance? We may be stuck at home but it doesn’t mean we need to suffer from bad lighting too!


Source: Good Housekeeping


Create springtime decor

Spring is here and although we’re going through unique circumstances it doesn’t mean we can’t bring the beauty of the great outdoors inside! Creating a beautiful centerpiece on your coffee table or dining room table by filling it with your favourite books, plants, flowers, fruit or old photos can add a nice springtime touch.

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Source: Medical News Today


During this tough time where many of us are in self-quarantine to protect ourselves, our families, friends, and community. Being at home for a vast amount of time means we need to make a few modifications to our daily routine and diet. We have to take on the responsibility of social distancing by opting for coffee at home instead of going to our favourite cafe down the block. With little planning, our food and beverage choices can still be tasty and nutritious. 


Here are some must-haves in your kitchen:


Shelf-Stable Milk — Nowadays, there are is a large variety of milk options from ultra-pasteurized cow’s milk and soy milk to almond milk and oat milk. The good thing about shelf-stable milk is that they have a long shelf life and can be used as an ingredient in many home-cooked meals and of course, in your morning coffee.


Whole Grains — According to Boston registered dietitian Elizabeth Ward, she recommends having whole-grain tortillas, whole-grain bread, quinoa and other whole grains in your household. By combining these various grain options with lean proteins such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lean ground beef, and lean ground turkey breast you can create a delicious and guilt-free meal.


Long-Life Vegetables and Fruits — Some of the most important food groups we must consume daily are fresh vegetables and fruits. Having one that has a longer shelf life can be beneficial when being on lockdown at home. Vegetables such as carrots and celery can be stored in water, bell peppers, lettuces, and pea pods are great options. Alternatives also include items that can live outside the fridge like apples, lemons, limes, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, potatoes and onions. 


Snacks — Munching isn’t all bad when you have a nutritious snacks. Many dieticians recommend adding a variety of nuts to your daily meals. For example, having pecans, walnuts, almonds, and cashews are extremely valuable to incorporate into your diet as it adds protein and healthy fats.


Source: U.S. Health News

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We were able to distinctively see a full moon on Monday night. It lit up the sky and was exceptionally beautiful as it was seen from anywhere in the city. A common conception of a full moon is the effect it has on human behaviour. According to an article from Farmers’ Almanac, when the Moon reaches a specific phase it also affects ocean tides and the Earth’s crust. So, it would only make sense that with humans being composed of 60% water the Moon would have an effect on us as well. There are various scientific reports arguing for and against the effect of the Moon on human behaviour. Although, detailed analysis showed individuals had heightened mind activity and higher levels of physical and mental distress.



The subtle and intangible effect of the Moon transits frequencies that affect the frequencies of the mind of human beings. In reference to the ‘mind’, we’re referring to one’s feelings, emotions, and desires. We all possess a conscious and unconscious mind and with the Moon’s more subtle frequencies it causes the impressions in our sub-conscious mind to surface to the conscious mind. This may result in us becoming aware of these thoughts and therefore leading us to feel “off” and unlike our normal self.


It’s a fascinating scientific explanation behind how it can impact human behaviour. Along with the daylight savings time change, we may have also felt more tired than usual from losing an hour of sleep.


Does a full moon affect your behaviour? If so, are you aware of them?


Source: Spiritual Research Foundation

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Source: Inc.com



Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms and is encouraging more than 4800 employees internationally to work from home due to coronavirus. Currently, Twitter is the only tech company that has taken intense and proactive measures in response to the outbreak. 


Twitter released a statement in a blog post, “Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us — and the world around us. We are operating out of an abundance of caution and the utmost dedication to keeping our Tweeps healthy.”


The company is also making it a requirement for employees located in offices in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea to work from home as it is “due in part to government restrictions”. 


This isn’t a huge change for the company as Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey has been a huge supporter of remote working. 


On another spectrum, employees working from home due to the virus may be a positive aspect for the company as remote employees are actually more productive. According to a survey of 1000 full-time employees, they work an average of 16.8 more days every year from having the ability to work from the comfort of their home or place of choice.


Source: BBC News

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 Source: Hubble Homes


When you think of luxury real estate you automatically think glamorous big cities, beach towns, and popular destinations. Normally, wealthy home buyers think of dropping their investments into real estate in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Dubai or other international cities. According to a recent Coldwell Banker report, “places generating interest form the richest 1% all smaller inland markets.” 


Believe it or not, the top luxury market currently is Boise, Idaho. You may not know where that is because they are better known for their potatoes rather than real estate. Why is there a drastic change in busy cities to smaller towns to buy luxury properties? It’s partially due to wealth migration from higher-tax states to lower-tax states. There is a greater opportunity at a more valued cost for wealthy buyers.


Boise, has been attracting West Coast buyers for a few years now due to beautiful mountain views and fast-growing tech sector. Although, like everything else, with the constant flow of new residents it has been driving prices up in the once-affordable city in Idaho.


According to realtor.com as of Feb. 1, the median home list price in the metro area of Boise was $375,000. Could you imagine a luxurious and stunning property for that price?!


Source: SFGate

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Source: See Toronto Now


According to the Huffington Post, “Toronto has risen to second place in an annual ranking of the major cities with the highest risk of a housing bubble burst, while the risk of a bubble burst in Vancouver has fallen.”


Last year, Vancouver was in fourth place but is now sitting at sixth place due to the falling house prices in the city resulting in real estate becoming less overvalued. After continuous annual growth rates over a couple of quarters Vancouver’s high valuations and unmeasurable affordability have allowed for the slightest demand shifts due to the market vulnerability.


Although, Toronto hasn’t had this type of bounce back or correction in the real estate market like Vancouver has. 


UBS, a Swiss bank analyzes, ranks and researches 24 major cities and their real estate market.


UBS analysts look at various factors and indicators to measure the risk of a bubble such as the change in the ratio of house prices and rents to incomes in each city, change in the value of mortgages, the value of construction and the economy as a whole.


It seems like Toronto is getting hit with a tough real estate market as Vancouver had gone through in the past year. With technological advances in leading cities, it directly correlates with the increasing demand for housing. As a result, there is a growing number of rich people who is also driving up demand.


Source: Huffington Post

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Valentine’s Day Raw Vegan Crunchy Chocolate Fudge Hearts


A sweet treat… but a healthier version! I love having sweets but I always feel guilty afterward but I found an easy and quick recipe for these delicious raw vegan crunchy chocolate fudge hearts. YES… it tastes just as good as it sounds! Time to treat yourself, a special someone or your friends and family with this yummy treat that you can't get enough of.


Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cup of chocolate or chocolate chips (vegan)
  • 1/3 cup of tahini (or another nut butter of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup of seeds and/or desiccated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil – optional
  • Sweetener of your choice - optional
  • Sprinkles for decoration - optional


Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate as best as possible and add the tahini and mix well. If desired, add the coconut oil, desiccated coconut oil and or seeds of your choice. Mix until completely combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into heart-shaped muffin molds and decorate with all the heart-shaped sprinkles. You can use dried fruit, nuts, seeds, sprinkles or shredded coconut.
  3. Put the molds in the fridge for a few hours until the fudge has hardened.
I hope you try it out and have a wonderful Valentine's day!
 
Recipe and photo source from: My Healthy Dessert 
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Eco-friendly Homemade Cleaning Products and Tips!

Source: New Hampshire Live Free


Many of us are unaware of the harmful ingredients in our every day cleaning products we use daily and how it can impact our health and our homes. By eliminating cleaning products we are stopping ourselves, children and animals from inhaling a lot of chemicals. Not only are cleaning products not very good for our home but neither are the air freshener or wall plug-ins as they have a huge dose of harmful chemicals.


Don't worry, I've compiled some homemade eco-friendly cleaning products that do just as good of a job!



Lemon-based cleaners as a homemade cleaning product work great for many surfaces around your home. Although, countertops made of stone such as granite and marble are porous which may corrode the surface over time from the acidity.


Carpet spills are almost impossible to avoid. This environmentally friendly method of getting rid of those stains include only 3 household ingredients: white vinegar, salt, and lavender essential oil. By mixing 2 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and your desired amount of lavender you have the perfect mix to remove any carpet stain!


A simple recipe of rubbing alcohol, vinegar, corn starch, and warm water will give you a solution to clean your mirror, fixtures, glass and shiny surfaces. Use a microfibre cloth or a newspaper, which is an old trick but seems to work well!


These organic cleaning products are all-natural and cost-efficient! Try them out and make your home smelling fresh and clean!

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DINE OUT VANCOUVER IS BACK!

This festival stemmed from Tourism Vancouver back in 2002 with an idea of having a fixed-price menu deal that Vancouverites could go around trying out various restaurants, wineries, craft breweries and much more! Dine Out Vancouver Festival has become Canada’s largest food and drink festival.


DATES: January 17 - February 2, 2020 


This annual event invites you to try new restaurants and new menu items throughout the city by offering set menus at fixed prices of $18, $28 and $38.


 



Here are a few of the restaurants participating:

Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio

Annalena

Bishops

Bistro Sakana

Black + Blue

The Boathouse Restaurant

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Brewhall

Brix & Mortar

Butcher & Bullock

Chamber Restaurant

Cibo Trattoria

Edible Canada

Forage

The French Table

Hook Seabar

Horizons Restaurant

Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House

L’abattoir Restaurant

Miku Restaurant


…and many more of Vancouver’s best restaurants!


For an extensive list of participating restaurants and the dine out menus, head to www.dineoutvancouver.com

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When you think of having a million-dollar home the first thing that comes to mind is a giant mansion with a pool and media room. Unfortunately, these days having a million dollars in hopes of gaining a great home for the value is rare.


Now, this isn’t saying that Vancouver homes within the million-dollar range are all outdated and older. There are quite a few properties that nice and affordable but with ongoing increases in insurance prices, it’d becoming harder and harder to find. Although, having an amazing realtor that will go above and beyond to find the perfect home within your budget is crucial.


Down below are some of the most SHOCKING properties currently on the market being sold for high prices:


Price: $1,250,000

Address: 6791 Main St., Vancouver, BC


This is may not be what you were picturing given the price being offered. This is the perfect example of how crazy Vancouver’s real estate market truly is.



Source: REW / Edward Tong for Sutton Maple Pacific Realty



Price: $1,098,000

Address: 4995 St Catherines St., Vancouver BC

This is a bargain buy! Perfect for a redevelopment opportunity or as an investment property.



Source: Paul Eviston for RE/MAX



Here are a few houses that are within the million dollar range that are affordable in great neighbourhoods”


Price: $1,389,000

Address: 2822 Dundas St.


Located in the Hastings Sunrise area and perfect for a family home.



Source: REW / Sonya Reich and Dan McLennan for Homelife Benchmark Realty (Langley) Corp.



Price: $1,450,000

Address: 2993 Charles St.

This home has been extensively renovated. The photo may look deceiving but this cozy home in the Renfrew area features 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms!


Source: REW / Owen Bigland for Macdonald Realty Westmar



As mentioned previously, with an experienced and knowledgable realtor you can find the right home for you with your style preferences and within your budget.


So, if you or anyone you know is looking to buy and/or sell, contact me and I'd be happy to advise you!

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Whether you're buying a home or renovating your home, here are some of the most popular trends we'll see for this upcoming year!


I've always had a passion for home design so it makes me excited to see that through the world of design there are endless possibilities. I'm not only intrigued myself on these trends but I want home-owners to be informed on what's in style now and whether it'll stay that way or will be passé soon.


INTERIOR HOME TRENDS


1) High-End Materials -- The go-to materials that most people dream of for their home are always stone, marble, quartz, etc. but it is also the time for high-end wood accents to make its debut. For example, fluted wood is making its way back into the popular choice for cabinet doors in the bathroom. On the other hand, for the kitchen, fluted glass doors are the way to go. As for metals and accents, brushed/stained gold accents are trending to give it a cozy and "lived-in" look.


2) Shades and Colours -- Neutrals are always in and will never go out of style. It seems to already be an inspiration for the colours of 2020 which is taken by the beauty of Mother Nature. Earth tones such as beige, terracotta, deep dark greens and deep blues are trending! The lighter shades bring a sense of cleanliness and zen, deep tones portray tranquility and comfort.



3) Bold Lighting -- Lighting choices are the focal points of a room and bring out a different energy and uniqueness to each homeowner's style. The forefront of lighting for 2020 are handmade designs such as those with irregular shapes like lighting created by blown glass.




EXTERIOR HOME TRENDS

1) Siding Material -- Popular siding choice is still wood. Although, there are some negative effects on wood as it is hard to upkeep. There is an alternative which is Maibec and CanExcel that offer the same visual appeal with much less maintenance. In terms of the colour for siding in 2020, it seems that most homeowners will stick to the classic white, black and charcoal.



2) Low Maintenance Plants -- It's true... most people love backyard gardens but it takes true dedication and commitment to landscaping and upkeeping the space. Low maintenance plants such as succulents and grass are trendy choice, along with green walls which are perfect for limited outdoor space while also providing privacy from neighbours.


3) Outdoor Kitchen -- The ongoing trend of being a "foodie" and people trying to transition to a healthier lifestyle for the new year has sparked the return of the outdoor kitchen. 


I hope you got some inspiration from this blog for your home and I wish you all a successful 2020!


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