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7 Tips To Buying A Home During The Holidays

Why It Makes Sense to Buy a Home at Year's End

7 Tips To Buying A Home During The Holidays

Moving during the holidays can be a headache with all the seasonal activities and obligations – not to mention unpleasant weather in many locations. However, there are plenty of positives to buying a home during the holidays that may make the headaches of moving worth the effort, including the seven listed below.

1. Less Competition – The same issues that make holiday moving a hassle tend to keep people from shopping for homes at that time. While there may be fewer homes available, there are also fewer home buyers – and that should equal less competition for any home that fits your needs.

2. Motivated Sellers – Home sellers don't enjoy moving over the holidays any more than home buyers do. It's likely that people who are selling their homes over the holidays are highly motivated to do so. Perhaps they must relocate for a new job, or their home has been on the market for a long time and they need the money from a sale before the year is out. Combine motivated sellers with decreased competition and you have great leverage to get a better deal.

3. Lower Prices – Home prices have been rising rapidly, in part because of an overall shortage of homes. However, December historically has lower home prices than any other month, due in part to the reasons listed above. There's no guarantee that this year will continue the trend, but it's worth checking the prices within your local market.

4. Faster Closings – As a general rule, everyone involved in a holiday real estate transaction wants to complete the transaction before the year ends. Buyers want to settle in their new homes (and if sellers are relocating, they want to settle in before the holidays as well). Lenders want to include the loan on the current year's books. Real estate agents and brokers want to include their commission on the current year's income. Motivated parties should make the closing process go as smoothly as possible – but do your part by having all the required paperwork in order.

5. Better Interest Rates – Interest rates are still near historical lows. While the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has been rising throughout 2018, it is still under 5%. As of this writing, interest rates are slowly sinking as we enter the holiday season, after peaking at 4.86% in October. Online calculators are available to show you how much you can save over the life of a mortgage with even a slight decrease in interest rates. You may be surprised at the savings. Remember that your credit score will impact your mortgage rate, keep you from qualifying for one. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.

6. Motivated Agents – Lower activity in the housing market means that real estate agents are dealing with fewer clients. They have more time to devote to your situation, and, with fewer sales commissions available, they may be just a bit more motivated to bring your purchase to completion.

7. Related Seasonal Sales – Need new furniture or other items for your new home? Plenty of seasonal clearance sales will be available to help you apply a personal touch – but be careful not to spend yourself into unrecoverable debt.

These tips don't always apply during every year or in every market, but the holidays usually provide these advantages to potential home buyers. Check out the conditions in the local market and see if you can find the home of your dreams and get a great deal in the process. Don't worry about moving during the holidays. Santa will still find you.

 

 

Original Post - https://www.moneytips.com/7-tips-to-buying-a-home-during-the-holidays


 

Photo: NORTHFOLK / Unsplash

Transitioning from a renter to a homeowner unlocks a whole new level of freedom and responsibility. Now, you can paint your living room walls that Kermit-green colour that you love so much, or adopt 15 cats — sans a landlord, there’s just so much more flexibility.

Of course, questionable paint choices and pets aren’t the only things that will change in your life as a new homeowner. Housing costs, once limited to just a rental payment and some utility bills, balloon into much bigger and possibly very consequential expenses. That’s why, when marching into the realm of homeownership, one must be equipped with the financial skills and budgeting know-how to take on the momentous responsibility of owning real estate.

“It’s important to go into homeownership fully informed of all the costs involved with buying your home, as well as maintaining those expenses in your monthly and annual budgets,” says Octavia Ramirez, founder of Paper & Coin, a Millennial-oriented financial coaching service.

If you’re upgrading from rental status, upgrade your financial smarts too. Whether you’re just exploring the possibility of buying a home, or you already own one and need a little helping hand, Ramirez offers a few pointers on how to manage your money and get your house in order.

And the total comes to… more than you thought

One of the biggest expenses of homeownership is the mortgage principal, no doubt. Tack on interest and mortgage insurance — if you have it — and you’re looking at a pretty sizable chunk of change. However, what some new buyers fail to see is the additional expenses of ownership beyond the mortgage payments.

“You have to take a lot more expenses into account as a homeowner than a renter,” explains Ramirez.

Photo: Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Even before you set foot in the door, homeowners will be tasked with paying for utility hookups, realtor and lawyer fees, moving costs, and potentially a home inspection. Then, there’s the upkeep — you might own an army of Scottish Folds now, but your landlord isn’t around to pay for those property taxes anymore. Home insurance, utilities, taxes, condo fees, and maintenance expenses are the owner’s responsibility.

Ramirez stresses that it’s important to be aware of these costs, and account for these expenses in your monthly and annual budgets. Some fees are charged quarterly, or once a year, like your property taxes. Knowing roughly how much they cost upfront will allow you anticipate when to pay and how much you should tuck away until that time when the payment is due.

“Same thing with certain utilities, like water bills, which only come once per quarter and might have been covered with your rent before,” explains Ramirez. “Make sure you know when to expect that, and approximately how much that will be, so that you’re prepared when the bill comes.”

Ramirez says that it will take some time living in your new space to know approximately how much everything will cost, though you should still have a cushion of savings available for added or unexpected expenses. Keep in mind that the size, location and type of property you buy will cause your expenses to vary — larger homes cost more to heat and cool, big-city living could mean higher property taxes, and living near a hurricane-prone zone might spell greater insurance fees.

A rainy-day fund for a six-month-long flood

In your rental apartment, if your hot water tank croaked it, your landlord would be responsible for repairing it at no cost, allowing you to get back to taking 40-minute long showers unscathed by technician fees.

Those days of free repairs are gone in homeownership. When those unexpected repairs hit, they hit your wallet hard, which is why building a reserve of savings is vital for tackling emergency costs. Whether you’re renting or owning, Ramirez recommends having three to six months worth of expenses banked in a savings account for emergencies. When you own a home, it’s best to add more to this fund.

Photo: cetteup / Unsplash

“As a homeowner, your expenses will likely be higher than someone renting, which means that you’ll have to bump this fund up to reflect your new budget and monthly expenses,” she explains.

Unexpected costs aren’t limited to faulty water tanks and leaky roofs either — losing a job, falling ill, or taking an unpaid leave from work constitute costs you may need to cover. When you have dependants like children or pets, covering their expenses is critical, so Ramirez recommends that large families contribute more to their emergency fund and have a stockpile of at least eight months worth of expenses to cover any financial crises.

Turn additional space into additional income

Homeownerhsip is expensive, duh. But your home doesn’t have to sit there like a big pile of bricks and mortar — if you’re struggling to make your homeowner budget work, even if you’ve only been doing it for a year or two, you can get creative with the assets that you have to create additional income.

“Do you have two cars sitting in the driveway? Make do with one, and list the other one on a car sharing or renting website like Turo,” says Ramirez. “Have an extra room in the house, or a legal basement apartment? Consider renting it out to someone, or listing your place on Airbnb, if possible. Or, sell the extra furniture and things in your home to bring in some extra cash. Find ways to turn your assets into income generators, especially during a time that money is tight.”

Photo: Patrick Perkins / Unsplash

Even picking up extra hours at work or freelancing could make a huge difference to your budget. As Ramirez explains, it’s worth trying to avoid losing your home or having to move again. In the worst case scenario, sometimes it’s better to break up and move on rather than stay together — you might have to cut your losses and sell.

“Not ideal, but better to start fresh without the day-to-day struggle of hanging on to something that may have been financially over your head in the first place,” says Ramirez.

 

 

Original Post - https://www.livabl.com/2019/11/budgeting-tips-new-homeowner-needs-know.html


Candles and Oil Lamp Caution

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Candles and oil lamps can create a warm indoor atmosphere. However, with our homes tightly sealed against the chill, remember that there’s not only a danger of fire, there’s also a risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

Image result for carbon monoxide detector

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless gas. A working CO detector will keep your family safe. Don't just get it and forget it… test the CO Detector regularly. And read the instructions carefully. Also check the batteries AND replacement date. CO detectors are usually "good" for 5 to 7 years.


Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

As winter inches closer, now’s the time to prepare by repairing your home. Repairs you make now will pay off tremendously in the future. Ensuring that your home’s cold-weather systems are running efficiently will save you money and major headaches in the long run.

 

Drain the Hose

Watering season is over, but you’re not done with your outdoor watering system quite yet. To avoid cracked hoses and burst faucets over the winter, turn off water valves in your home and drain all remaining water from the taps and hoses. Tip: Unrolling the hose down a gentle slope will let the water run out completely.

Clear Vents

To prevent ice dams — ridges of roof ice that prevent melting snow from draining — ensure attic vents are free of debris. Poor soffit ventilation can increase mold inside the house and damage wood shingles during the winter months. Tip: A leaf blower or a pass with a pressure washer will clear them out and prep them for winter snow.

Clean the Chimney

Ahhh, there’s nothing quite like the warming atmosphere of a wood-burning fireplace in the dead of winter. But once you’ve cozied up to your 70th fire, get that chimney inspected and cleaned of excess creosote, because it may cause chimney fires. Tip: Run the point of a fire poker inside the chimney liner and if there’s more than three millimetres of gunk, call a certified chimney sweep.

Store Pots and Planters

If you decide to keep your collection of colourful clay pots outside for winter, make sure you empty the soil before you do. The moisture in the earth will expand when frozen, which can crack those precious ceramic containers. Tip: Removing the soil now will make it easier to reposition and replant the pots come springtime.

Mind in the Gutter

Backed up gutters can cause all sorts of wintertime hassles such as roof leaks, ice dams and wall-focused water damage. Before the snow comes, get your gutters cleared out by a professional — leave ladders to the insured experts. Tip: Make sure all downspout extensions run at least 1.5 metres away from your home’s foundations.

Caulked and Ready

A thin line of silicone caulking is one of the best ways to seal gaps in siding, windows and door frames. If you can see a gap that’s bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to get on it, to stop drafts and water damage in their tracks. Tip: Pick up some weather stripping for doors as well — you shouldn’t be able to see daylight from inside your home.

Inspect the Roof

Pull out a pair of binoculars and give your roof a careful once-over. Keep your eyes peeled for damage or missing or loose shingles. Hire a handyman for patching jobs, or a roofing company for larger sections in need of some TLC before winter comes. Tip: Take time to investigate the flashing around chimneys and vent stacks, too.

A/C Prep

While it may be tempting to wrap your entire external air-conditioning unit in miles of plastic wrap, resist the urge. Doing this can cause corrosion and is an inviting spot for nesting rodents. Instead, place a piece of made-to-measure plywood over the unit during winter and protect it from large, falling icicles and snowdrifts.

Heating Up

Don’t wait until the thermometer dips below zero to think about your home’s heating system; prep now and be ready. A technician can inspect, test and clean your furnace or heat pump to ensure they’re in tip-top shape for winter. Tip: Ask for a carbon monoxide measurement at the same time as the inspection.

Flip it and Reverse it

If your home is kitted out with ceiling fans, check the settings for a reverse option. Running fans in the opposite direction creates an updraft, pushing down heated air, which can help reduce your energy bill. Tip: If you have high ceilings, consider switching out the fan units for ones that have this setting.

 

Before the temperature drops too much, make sure your home is ready to handle the cold, wet winter months. A little prep work and elbow grease now will go a long way to help your home weather the coming storms — literally.


The road to homeownership can be bumpy, and it’s often filled with unexpected turns and detours. That’s why it makes sense to have a real estate pro help guide the way.

While real estate websites and mobile apps can help you identify houses you may be interested in, an experienced agent does much more, including:

1. Guide. Before you tour your first home, your agent will take time to learn more about your wants, needs, preferences, budget and motivation. A good real estate agent will help you narrow your search and identify your priorities.

2. Educate. You should expect your agent to provide data on the local home market and comparable sales. The home-buying process can be complicated. A good agent will explain the steps involved – in a manner that makes them understandable – and provide counsel along the way.

3. Network. An agent who is familiar with your target neighborhoods will often know about homes that are for sale – even before they’re officially listed. Experienced agents tend to know other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them; this can lead to smooth transactions. Your agent may also be able to refer you to trusted professionals including lenders, home inspectors and contractors.

4. Advocate. When you work with a buyer’s agent, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who is looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you. If you find yourself in a situation where the same agent represents both the buyer and seller, things can get trickier, advises Scottsdale, Arizona-based real estate agent Dru Bloomfield.

“A lot of people think they’ll get a lower price by going straight to the listing agent, but that’s always not true,” she says. “If I was representing both the buyer and seller, I’d be hard-pressed to take a low-ball offer to the seller. But, as a buyer’s agent I’d do it, because I have no emotional ties or fiduciary responsibility to the seller. Buyers should work with an agent who can fully represent them.”

5. Negotiate. Your agent will handle the details of the negotiation process, including the preparation of all necessary offer and counteroffer forms. Once your inspection is done, the agent can also help you negotiate for repairs. Even the most reasonable consumers can become distraught when battling over repair requests; an agent can do “the ask” without becoming overly emotional.

6. Manage minutia. The paperwork that goes along with a real estate transaction can be exhaustive. If you forget to initial a clause or check a box, all those documents will need to be resubmitted. A good real estate agent understands the associated deadlines and details and can help you navigate these complex documents.

7. Look out. Any number of pitfalls can kill a deal as it inches toward closing; perhaps the title of the house isn’t clear, the lender hasn’t met the financing deadline or the seller has failed to disclose a plumbing problem. An experienced real estate agent knows to watch for trouble before it’s too late, and can skillfully deal with challenges as they arise.

Professional real estate agents do so much more than drive clients around to look at homes. Find an agent you trust and with whom you feel comfortable working; you’re sure to benefit from their experience, knowledge of the local market and negotiation skills.


5 New Year's Resolutions for Your Home

Every year when January rolls around you vow to lose weight, save money or spend more time with family and friends. But what goals do you set for your home?
 
By: Melinda Fulmer via HGTV.com
 

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

In the spirit of new beginnings, HGTV has consulted the experts and come up with some resolutions that will make your home a more beautiful, efficient, clean and green place in the coming year.

Here are our five picks for the best home improvement resolutions for the new year and how to achieve them:

1: Streamline the stuff

One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter.

Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.)

This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don't use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in, says Antoinette Nue, an Atlanta consultant who specializes in helping people simplify and go green.

"Fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken," she says.

Regan Baker Design Inc.

Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays, says Stuart McCormick, a designer with Liz Levin Interiors in Washington D.C.

Clear your counters of everything you don't use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home. 

2: Make it safe and sound

Your home may be beautiful, but is it safe? There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they're not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk.

First, check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. And with test kits costing as little as $20 at your local hardware store, there's no reason not to get right on that.

While we're on the subject of deadly gas, make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you. Like a radon test, this is a small investment — $40 or more — for such an important safeguard.

Watch out for dryer lint. We know you clean the little trap inside the door, but most people neglect to clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it's highly combustible, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, accounting for more than 15,000 building fires a year.

Christopher Shane

Make sure your house can breathe. Hickory Hills, Ill. home inspector Jack McGraw is always surprised at how many people's bathrooms and attics aren't vented to the outside (or the vents are covered over with shingles.) This makes you a prime candidate for mold.

And if you're considering a remodel — and your home was last built or remodeled before 1978 — consider testing for lead paint and asbestos flooring. It will have to handled properly during removal, or particles can be released into the air for you to ingest.

3: Shrink your bills (and your carbon footprint in the process)

When people think of going green, they often think it takes solar panels or a hybrid car to make a difference.

Not so, says Bob Schildgen, who wrote the "Hey Mr. Green" column for Sierra magazine. It just takes a little old-fashioned common sense.

The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home:

- Remember your mom's advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room.

- Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night.

- Install LED bulbs and low-flow showerheads.

- Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them.

- Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.

- Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary.

- Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.

4: Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean

Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control from Jeff Campbell, author of the book Speed Cleaning and owner of the Clean Team housekeeping service in San Francisco.

Flynnside Out Productions

Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night - no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips:

- Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths - in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.

- Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder's apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)

- Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It's faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that's done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.

- For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties: One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, the other can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and trash emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, Campbell says, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.

5: Get your place ready for entertaining

Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update?

You don't have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates, says designer McCormick.

Courtesy of Paper Daisy Design

One easy update that makes your home seem more "finished" is the addition of plants, she says.

"They bring in new energy and help clean the air," she says. "And it's a great way to decorate if you're on a budget."

A couple of dramatic presentations like a large flowering agapanthus or potted palm in a bright ceramic planter that complements your existing color scheme will do the trick.

Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.

Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

 

https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/5-new-years-resolutions-for-your-home

 


 
 

How to Prepare a Gifting Box for Last-Minute Occasions

Author photo
Tara Hunt
 
 
Growing up, my mother taught me the importance of having a “birthday box.” This was the name she gave to a box she kept in the cupboard that included items that could be gifted at a moment's notice, such as a last-minute invite to a birthday or anniversary party.

Though she called it a “birthday box,” it went far beyond birthdays. As she described it to me, having these items available showed her to be a gracious guest every time and she'd make certain it was filled to the brim at the beginning of the holiday season.

a gift, wrapping paper and gift tags
Photo by Miroslava on Unsplash

Beyond the gift items in the box, there were cards for every occasion, gift bags, ribbons, crepe and wrapping paper, but what fascinated me the most was how carefully she curated the gifts. There were some rules to what would be bought for the gifting box, which included:

  1. Neutrality – they needed to have a more general appeal so they could be gifted to anyone: any gender, any culture and any season. Occasionally, non-neutral items such as kid gifts and seasonal items were added but they were rare.
  2. Meaningfulness – each item had some sort of story associated with it.
  3. Usefulness – the gifts were something people would actually use. Knick-knacks were frowned upon unless they were incredibly meaningful.
  4. Quality + attractiveness – the items had to be of high quality.

When I grew up and made my own life and home, I took this idea with me and now maintain my own “birthday box,” which I call a gifting box. So, what are some of the items I put into that box?

Quality souvenirs

jewellery boxes with different patterns on them
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

I love to travel and am lucky to have had several opportunities to do so, so I always try to carve out time to hunt for items I can bring back for friends and family as well as add to the gifting box. That being said, I have also been on the receiving end of these travel gifts and know all too well how uncomfortable it is to receive touristy trinkets, so it's important these souvenirs align to the standards my mother set: usefulness and quality. This means I avoid buying anything at the airport and instead look for things like the following.

Non-perishable local food items

a spice bottle

Think hot sauces, locally-sourced preserves and spices, and treats and confectionary. When I went to the middle east, I stocked up on saffron. I brought back hot red pepper sauce from the Azores. Some other edible gifts I've brought back are Kona coffee from Hawaii, Fleur de Sel from France and Black Sugar Tea from China. You can never go wrong with chocolate or candy, either.

Small kitchen items

decorative plates hanging on a wall
Photo by Raul Cacho Oses on Unsplash

Many locales I've visited have unique ceramics and things like utensils and hand towels. Larger ceramics can be difficult to carry back with you as they are fragile to pack and get too heavy to carry on, but small, lighter items such as bowls, vases and tiny containers can be wrapped up and placed between clothing items in your suitcase. I love the colourful patterns on Mexican ceramics and have gifted many small plates, bowls and even tiles to people. I also brought back lots of beautifully hand-painted chopsticks and tiny ceramic soy sauce bowls and chopstick rests from Japan. All of these items have been a big hit.

Local artist creations

heart-shaped decorated cookies
Photo by Bojan Savnik on Unsplash

Though you need to be careful in this area to avoid clashes in taste, I've discovered lovely gift books, hand-painted boxes, soaps and lotions, coasters and table runners that are easy to bring back and are well-received by anyone. Avoid something people will need to hang on their walls or otherwise put on display as displayed items in a person's home are usually very personal.

Handmade + artisanal products

fudge wrapped in colourful paper
Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

I find arts and crafts markets are treasure troves for unique gifting box items. Much like souvenirs, non-perishable food items, small kitchen items and things created by local artists that can be used are equally meaningful gifts.

I don't limit my gift box additions to treasures I pick up while in far-off places. I've found some incredibly unique and beautiful items in my own backyard and am always sure to pick up a few for future use…and even for myself.

Christmas decor on a table
Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash

Your own handmade products can also be a welcome gift. Though I'm not very crafty, my mother was incredibly talented in this area and had everything from small stained-glass boxes to watercolour painted cards. Many people I know make their own preserves, candles and soaps.

More gifting box Ideas

rose gold stationery on a table
Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash

Other items that have been big hits are:

  • Games – This includes everything from Uno to mahjong sets to trivia cards.
  • Gift cards – Though I keep these at a minimum because they seem more transactional, they can work nicely for a coworker's birthday or a holiday gift for teachers.
  • Books – I try to keep these fun, light and inspirational. My rule of thumb: does this book work well for bathroom reading?
  • Kitsch or nostalgic items – As long as it isn't junky! I have lots of “Canadiana” in my gifting box—thermoses with a mountie print and CBC classic logo socks and toques.
  • Paper and stationery – Notebooks, writing paper, nicer pens and fun and unique desktop items (like novelty push pins) can also be fun to gift in the right scenarios.
decorated pencil bags
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I also make certain I have a stack of cards for every occasion and the appropriate wrapping accoutrements.

Price points + other considerations

a person charging a credit card with a POS machine
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Generally, the items in the gifting box range from $10 to 30, but there are a few more premium items for special occasions. At the end of the day, the value lies in the eyes of the recipient. A small ceramic hand-painted box from Portugal or a tiny bag of a rare spice from the Middle East may have only cost you $5 but could be worth a fortune to your host, while an expensive art piece that doesn't suit their taste is worthless.

Even though the items are purchased without a specific person in mind, you should still try to bring an item you know your host would enjoy.

a gift box filled with food in jars
Photo by Dmitry Mashkin on Unsplash

The key to having the right gifts for every occasion is to think about filling up this gifting box year-round and learning from which gifts are the most joyfully received. Make it a habit to think about the gifting box when you're travelling, at a market or just shopping around. Stay away from clutter and buy things you would want and use.

As the holiday season approaches and the multiple last-minute invitations roll in, you will be grateful you stocked up.

 

 

 
 
https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/6403/1367/how-to-prepare-a-gifting-box-for-last-minute-occasions/

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RETIREES AND BABY BOOMERS CAPITALIZE ON HIGH-VALUE PRINCIPAL RESIDENCES TO ENTER ACTIVE RETIREMENT AT RECREATIONAL PROPERTIES, BLURRING THE LINE BETWEEN RECREATIONAL AND RESIDENTIAL.

A recent survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents found that in 91 per cent of popular Canadian recreational property markets examined, retirees were the key factor driving activity. This includes established recreational regions such as Prince Edward County and Comox Valley. This is in stark contrast to last year’s findings, when retirees were a dominant driving force in only 55 per cent of markets examined.

The survey found that in British Columbia, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, more retirees and soon-to-be retirees are purchasing recreational properties outside of urban centres for use as retirement homes, increasingly blurring the line between recreational and residential properties.

  • Retirees are fueling demand: 91 per cent of regions surveyed reported that retirees drive demand for recreational properties
  • One in three survey respondents (33 per cent) say that they own or want to own a recreational property for investment purposes
  • Buyers are increasingly renting in urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver while purchasing recreational properties
  • Other than affordable purchase price, waterfront rated as the most important feature to Canadians when considering spending time at a cottage or cabin, beating out reasonable maintenance costs

“Last year, we found that Baby Boomers and retirees were increasingly selling their homes in urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “It’s clear that many put the equity they received from those sales into the purchase of a recreational property with the intention to retire in comfort and away from the city.”

Many of these individuals are engaging in more active forms of retirement, choosing to maintain physical fitness and emotional fulfillment by pursuing passion projects and leading lifestyles that involve farming, hiking and maintaining vineyards. This is particularly the case in regions such as South Okanagan, Wasaga Beach and Rideau Lakes.

Due to the strong US dollar, retirees in the Sylvan Lake and Lake Winnipeg regions are selling their snowbird properties south of the border and purchasing recreational homes for use as retirement properties as well.

In a separate survey conducted by Leger, six in 10 Canadians (58 per cent) enjoy recreational properties as places where they can relax and spend time with friends and family. However, the majority of Canadians (84 per cent) do not actually own recreational properties.

“Many Canadians want to live out the ‘Canadian Dream’ and spend time at the cottage or cabin but today, that doesn’t necessarily mean owning a recreational property outright,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. “Many are choosing to rent recreational properties, often by pooling resources with friends and family, which speaks to recreational properties still being in high demand.”

In fact, one in three Canadians (33 per cent) say that they own or would want to own a recreational property for investment purposes. In Toronto specifically, the survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents found that in regions such as North Bay-Sunridge, Bancroft and the Bruce Peninsula, many owners of recreational properties actually rent their principal residences in Toronto, where they live most of the year. Using their recreational properties every so often while renting them out for the rest of the year, these individuals are renting a principal residence where they live while buying where they play.

In Leger’s survey, more than half of Canadians (54 per cent) who own a recreational property, or are considering buying one, identify savings as their source of funding. Twenty per cent would use a loan, 20 per cent would rely on home equity and only 11 per cent would rely on inheritance.

The survey also found that other than affordable purchase price, Canadians who own or would consider owning a recreational property named waterfront access (55 per cent), reasonable maintenance costs (54 per cent) and proximity to town (43 per cent) as the most important factors when purchasing. The survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents, waterfront access was considered the most in-demand amenity in most regions, overall.

 

Recreational-Property-Report-2018-infographic

BRITISH COLUMBIA

The recreational property market in British Columbia is being driven primarily by retirees. Other emerging trends include couples and young entrepreneurs seeking work/life balance, and recreational property buyers cashing in on expensive urban housing markets. Across the board, the region is experiencing a seller’s market due to lack of recreational inventory. The amenities in greatest demand are beaches and skiing facilities.

THE PRAIRIES

Demand for recreational properties in the Prairies is being propelled primarily by young families, followed by young couples and retirees. Retirees are commonly seen selling their recreational properties south of the border in favour of buying closer to home, due to the strong US dollar. The most sought-after recreational amenities are boating, fishing and beaches.

ONTARIO

Ontario’s recreational property market is being buoyed by retirees who are leaving larger metropolitan cities in favour of cottage country. Emerging trends include retirees or semi-retirees buying cottages as retirement homes; couples priced out of expensive urban markets opting for the waterfront lifestyle; and buyers holding cottages as investment properties. Due to lack of demand, the region is experiencing a seller’s market. Properties in greatest demand are those offering beaches and boat facilities.

ATLANTIC REGION

Demand for recreational properties in Atlantic Canada is being driven by retirees moving away from larger cities. Other market trends include young couples and families opting for the saltwater lifestyle; retirees and semi-retirees purchasing homes for retirement; and buyers seeking recreational properties in close proximity to the inland city centres, Across the board, the region is experiencing a balanced market. In highest demand are properties with access to beaches and golfing.

Key Findings from the 2018 RE/MAX Recreational Property Omnibus Survey

1. One-quarter (24 per cent) of Canadians would consider buying a recreational property in the future.

2. Canadians cite the following reasons to own or want to own a recreational property:

  • It is where I can go and relax and spend time with friends and family = 58 per cent
  • It is a getaway home = 46%
  • I can do activities I can’t do at my permanent residence (hiking, fishing, etc.) = 46%
  • It is an investment property = 33%
  • It is a retirement home = 19%
  • Other = 4%

3. Canadians identify the following sources of down payment when considering their current recreational property or their next purchase of a recreational property:

  • Savings = 54%
  • Loan = 20%
  • Home equity = 20%
  • Inheritance = 11%
  • Other = 4%
  • I don’t know = 11%
  • I prefer not to answer = 3%

4. More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Canadians who own or are considering owning a recreation property are willing to travel up to two hours, with 31 per cent saying they would travel two hours. Slightly less (28 per cent) are willing to travel three or more hours.

5. Canadians identify the following features as important when considering their current recreational property or their next purchase of a recreational property:

  • Affordable purchase price = 64%
  • Waterfront access = 55%
  • Reasonable maintenance costs = 53%
  • Proximity to town = 43%
  • Reasonable distance from primary residence = 37%
  • Relative seclusion = 33%
  • Land access = 30%
  • Proximity to sports/recreation = 25%
  • Accessible medical facilities = 24%
  • Nearby neighbouring properties = 15%
  • Island property = 12 per cent
  • Other = 1%
  • None, don’t mind which features my recreational property has = <1%
  • Don’t know/prefer not to answer = 3%

6. Canadians 55 and older (vs <55), who own or would consider owning a recreational property are significantly more likely to say waterfront access, reasonable maintenance costs, proximity to a town, reasonable distance from primary residence and accessible medical facilities are important.

 

 


Thinking of downsizing? Whether it’s because retirement is looming or looking to reduce living costs, read these 7 factors to consider before making your decision.

To read list, Click Here

  Facebook


Buying your first home can be a daunting task. Many first-time home buyers don’t know how to beginning the process, what they should be focusing on or how to select a real estate agent that understands their needs. Based on a panel of RE/MAX Sales Associates across Canada, here are their top 5 tips for first-time buyers.

To view list, Click Here

First time buyers


Now that spring house-hunting is in full bloom, spotting potential problems before making an offer may save any unwelcome surprises in the long run. With the snow gone and sun out, spring is the perfect time to spot any cracks, hidden moisture in basements, yellow spots on walls or water damage.

To go fully prepared to your next showing,  Click Here

Property-For-Rent

 


Buying vs. renting? This new program introduced by the Provincial and Federal government should make your decision a little easier.  As of May 1st, modest income families or individuals struggling to save for a down payment may qualify for an interest free loan.

To see if you qualify, read full article Here

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According to StatsCan, prices for new homes (excluding condos and apartments) have seen an increase in price 3.1% year-over-year in January 2017. This represented 0.1 per cent growth compared to December 2016.

To read for article, Click Here

PRICE INCREASE FOR NEW BUILTS


What is a PCDS form? Property Condition Disclosure Statement is a form completed by the Property Seller, disclosing all "known" problems or concerns with the property prior to sale. This document is relied upon by the Buyer, to be correct, to the best of the Seller's knowledge so Buyer is aware of potential issues or repairs.

The following article demonstrates how important a PCDS can be to Home buyers in Nova Scotia, complete honesty is imperative when completing this document as it has been relied upon to settle many lawsuits from new Home Buyers mislead by false claims.:

 

Seller to Pay $14,000 for Misleading PCDS

Joel-and-denyse-doherty-bought-this-annapolis-valley-home


With summer fast approaching and the number of Condo-Living-Haligonians on the rise, there's been a sharp increase in creative approaches to gardening.  Check out some of these fantastic ideas for Condo Gardens.  Just because you're living "multi-unit" does not mean you have to give up eating fresh and enjoying outdoor life.  Urban Gardening

Balcony garden Gutter_gardens

 

 


This week's episode of MY HALIFAX Adam takes us on a tour of the beautiful Halifax waterfront, taking full advantage of Earth Day and the beautiful weather to show you the sites and attractions of the waterfront. 

For more information on Earth Day in CanadaCanada-halifax-harbor-tourists_71210_600x450

 

 


Recently The Bagogloo Team were invited to participate in the Scotiabank Home Buying Days event Scotiabank Montage Dayswhere we teamed with our good friend, Vanessa Chalhoub,Home Financing Advisor (Scotiabank). Visitors were introduced to homebuying solutions designed to meet their needs and goals.  We discussed current real estate market conditions and trends in the Greater Halifax Area and offered current homeowners a FREE COMPLIMENTARY Current Market Analysis of their home. (Get Yours)

Thank you Vanessa! Vanessa chalhoub

 

 

 


DingleJoin Adam for Episode #2 of MY HALIFAX.  Today Adam takes us on a tour of the historic Dingle.  The Dingle Tower was constructed between 1908-1912 to commemorate Nova Scotia's formation of it's own representative government.  The Dingle (meaning Wooded Valley) is a beautiful park (Sir Sanford Fleming Park) with a public beach and beautiful hiking trails.

Enjoy your journey and please send your requests for locations you'd like to see covered in MY HALIFAX.

 


It's almost that time of year again... At In-visible we are planning a Christmas party for the kids and we would love for Santa to make an appearance. If anyone could lend us a Santa costume from November 23-30th we would be so grateful.#tistheseason #party

If you are planning on going to visit Santa this year but not sure when and where he is going to be, then you have come to the right place. Below are the four major shopping centres with their time and dates so you don't miss out a wonderful tradition. It is the fastest way to get your holiday order in!

Santa at MicMac Mall

Santa is on duty until December 23rd.
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sundays 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Free Printed 5X7 Photo

Santa at Halifax Shopping Centre

Santa will be at HSC on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 29th through Dec. 23.
Photo Emailed Free
Printed 4x6 with $5 Donation - proceeds to Operation Winter Warmth.

Santa at Bedford Place Mall

Our social media elves report that Bedford has a really wonderful Santa, on duty daily through Dec. 23. His hours are:
Monday and Tuesday: 2:00-4:00pm
Wednesday-Friday: 6:00-8:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am-12:00 noon and 1:30-4:00pm
Sunday: 1:00-4:00pm
Photos $5 - proceeds to Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Santa at Sunnyside Mall

His hours are:
Thursdays and Fridays 6:00-8:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am-4:00pm
Sundays: 12:15-4:00pm
Photos are free (with a donation to Paths 2 Learning).
Silent Santa: Sunday mornings by appointment (Phone: 902-835-5099)
More details  here.


Elf-movie-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for something fun for the whole family this Saturday? #Cineplex Theatres at 760 #SackvilleDrive is showing a 10 am showing of Elf! Admission is $2 with the proceeds going to the Beacon House Food Bank! For more details please visit http://sackvillebusiness.com/events/sba-christmas-movie/

 


In case you missed last weekend’s back to back Parade of lights in Halifax and Bedford, all is not lost. You can still see a parade of lights this coming Sunday evening, November 23rd starting at Barrett Lumber at 6 pm and runs to the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre. 

For more information please visit: http://www.bbkcc.ca/event/lions-club-parade-of-lights/

 


Even though Christmas is 6 weeks away there are events starting to get everyone in the spirit! Take Victorian Christmas at the Halifax Citadel for example; this has been a tradition for 25 years. Maybe it is something you have been doing every year, but if you haven't then maybe it is time to check it out. This event is free to enter with a cash donation or non-perishable food item and takes place Saturday and Sunday Nov 22-23 from 12-4. For more details please visit Destination Halifax!


Aerial_Citadel_4897_SRobb_sm[1]

If you are looking for a great way to show your respects for the service and sacrifice of our soldiers, then visit Halifax Citadel National Historic Site at 5425 Sackville St. this Remembrance Day. There will be FREE admission from 10 am – 2 pm, with a special 21 Gun salute at 11 am. To learn more about this event visit http://www.destinationhalifax.com/experience-halifax/festivals-events/remembrance-day-army-museum.


Purchase plus improvement mortgage allows you to buy and renovate so that you can enjoy your fixer upper.

 

Source: Original Content can be foun at http://mortgageintelligence.ca/mi/about/about-us/renovation-sink-or-swim/


ReMax Nova's 2nd Annual Pink Campaign - Sold On A Cure

ReMax Nova's 2nd Annual Pink Campaign - Sold On A Cure - Fighting Breast Cancer 

In support of the CIBC Run For The Cure - Remax Nova goes PINK!
It’s official. REMAX nova has turned PINK! We, at REMAX nova, have always been strong supporters of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s (CBCF) quest to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research, mainly through our “Sold On a Cure” Program. In October, its our 2nd Annual Pink Campaign & time to take things to a whole new level. In an unprecedented company effort, we are going “PINK” for the month of October. 

So, what do we mean by “PINK”?

Well almost all of our marketing efforts for the next 30 days will be, you guessed it…PINK. This includes all 500+ or so FOR SALE signs being replaced with specially designed PINK signs. In addition all newspaper ads, Real Estate Book, Website, TV ads and of course kicking the month off with members of our team participating in the CIBC Run For The Cure this Sunday, Sept 30th. If you are able, please donate to this terrific cause that affects 1 in 9 Canadian women & in 2012, there will be an estimated 22,700 more Canadian women diagnosed with breast cancer. TO DONATEhttps://secure3.convio.net/cbcf/site/Donation2?idb=355374326&df_id=1605&1605.donation=form1&FR_ID=1415&PROXY_ID=2551316&PROXY_TYPE=20&JServSessionIdr004=fda8kq9ova.app337b
Breast cancer is not limited to women. Man can develop breast cancer as well but is rare ( Fewer than one per cent of all breast cancers occur in men which equates to approximately 227 men in Canada being diagnosed in 2012 ).
We look forward to an exciting month ahead & thank of those who continue to support this cause & REMAX nova. For more details on how you can help visit the CBCF Atlantic Chapter website by clicking on the photo above.
FACTS & MYTHS ABOUT BREAST CANCER
There are many myths about the causes and detection of breast cancer that are unfounded or simply untrue. Here are some of the common myths about breast cancer causes that you may have seen or heard reported in the mediahttp://www.cbcf.org/atlantic/AboutBreastCancerMain/AboutBreastCancer/Pages/Facts-and-Myths.aspx
CAUSES OF BREAST CANCER
Breast cancer is a complex disease with no single cause. Breast cancer researchers believe that a combination of inherited and environmental causes must be present for breast cancer to develop. For more information on causes, please visithttp://www.cbcf.org/atlantic/AboutBreastCancerMain/AboutBreastCancer/Pages/WhatCausesBreastCancer.aspx
BREAST CANCER STATISTICS IN CANADA
In 2012, breast cancer continues to be the most common cancer in Canadian women over the age of 20, representing 26 percent of all cancer cases in Canadian women. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canadian women and the third leading cause of death after heart disease, and lung cancer.
Fewer Canadian women are dying from breast cancer today than in the past. Breast cancer deaths have decreased by almost 40 percent since the peak in 1986 due to earlier detection through regular mammography screening, advances in screening technology, and improved treatments. For more statistical information or information on diagnosis, symptoms, treatments & more, please visithttp://www.cbcf.org/atlantic/AboutBreastCancerMain/AboutBreastCancer/Pages/default.aspx

 https://idesk.invismi.ca/assets/image/consultant/Hurley-Mark-40000348.jpg

By Mark Hurley, AMP

Today’s Bank of Canada rate hold announcement marks almost four straight years that the key benchmark rate has remained unchanged, since September 8, 2010. Great news if you have a variable-rate mortgage or home equity line of credit; the prime rate stays at 3%.

The announcement noted that “the risks to the outlook for inflation remain roughly balanced, while the risks associated with household imbalances have not diminished.” With these considerations, the Bank is maintaining its monetary policy stimulus, and remains neutral with respect to the timing and direction of the next change.

The next rate-setting day is October 22nd.

Whether you are looking to purchase, refinance, or renew, we can help you decide whether a fixed or variable-rate mortgage will work best for your situation. Or you may find that a hybrid mortgage, which is part fixed and part variable, is better suited to your needs. Call today!

We regularly receive short-term rate promotions that are not posted online, which means our rates change frequently. Please contact us for the unpublished rate specials.

Terms Posted Rates Our Rates
6 MONTHS 4.00% 3.95%
1 YEAR 3.09% 2.89%
2 YEARS 3.04% 2.34%
3 YEARS 3.44% 2.69%
4 YEARS 3.94% 2.77%
5 YEARS 4.79% 2.99%
7 YEARS 6.04% 3.79%
10 YEARS 6.50% 4.39%

Rates are subject to change without notice. OAC E&OE


Prime Rate 3.00%
5 yr variable 2.40%

Whatever your need is today – first or next home, renewal, refinance, renovation financing, equity take out, business-for-self mortgage, investing in property or a second/vacation home, contact us for a review of your situation, and the advice you need to achieve your homeownership dreams. After all, the right mortgage can build your wealth and save you thousands of dollars.

Every single day we're making homeowner dreams come true. And we're here to help you.

Source: https://www.magnetmail.net/actions/email_web_version.cfm?recipient_id=1252096266&message_id=6356990&user_id=INVIS&group_id=1393260&jobid=21460922


Ride For The Cure Pic 1

 

The Bagogloo Team is proud to support our team partner Terry Campbell in his third year participating in a wonderful cause; Ride 4 The Cure. The 11th annual Ride 4 The Cure motorcycle rally through Cape Breton's Cabot Trail will take place on September 5th-6th, 2014.

Help Terry reach his personal goal of $2000 for a fantastic cause. To donate please click this link: http://www.ride4thecurecb.ca/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1105399&supId=410783819


Blizzard Treat

Miracle Treat Day

Buy a Blizzard® Treat on Thursday, August 14th, 2014
All proceeds will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network®

On Thursday August 14th, 2014, all proceeds from every Blizzard® Treat purchased at participating DQ® stores will be donated to your local Children's Miracle Network® member hospital to help children in need.

Together we can provide hope and healing to sick and injured children in your community.

To find a participating store please visit http://www.miracletreatday.ca/

Source: www.miracletreatday.ca/


Natal_DayHalifax-Dartmouth is celebrating it’s 119th Natal Day. The Halifax/Dartmouth Ferry will be FREE all day on August 2nd. There are lots of events going on including Fireworks!

There are several fireworks displays, choose the one that fits your needs.

Saturday Aug 2nd
Halifax Harbour Bridges Natal Day Fireworks
10:00 PM Launched from Macdonald Bridge!

Sunday Aug 3rd
Natal Day Halifax Common Family Fireworks presented by GoodLife Fitness
9:30 PM @ Halifax South Common, Canada Games Ball Diamond

Monday August 4th
119th Natal Day Lake Banook Fireworks presented by
Heritage House Law & The Dartmouth Kiwanis Club
9:45 PM @ Lake Banook

For a detailed list of activities going on over the long weekend visit: http://natalday.org/index.php


Residential Direct Install of Efficient Products

The Residential Direct Install of Efficient Products program aims to reduce the amount of energy used by Nova Scotian homeowners.  To achieve this goal, the program educates homeowners on available energy efficient products while providing free product installation. As one of the service providers, Clean Foundation delivers this program on behalf of Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation

This is a free-of-charge program, open to all Nova Scotia homeowners and renters. As a partner of Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation, Clean Foundation will come to your home and install, where appropriate:

  • Energy Efficient Lighting
  • LED Nightlights
  • High Efficiency Shower Heads and Faucet Aerators
  • Insulating Wraps for Electric Hot Water Tanks and Copper Pipes

All upgrades are done at no cost to you and should result energy savings for your home. A typical homeowner could save up to $160 annually on their energy bills.

To participate; call our Customer Experience Department at 1-888-281-0004 and book your appointment today. Or, if you prefer, visit the Clean Foundation website and fill out the form and one of our Booking Agents will contact you shortly.

SOURCE: Clean Foundation - http://clean.ns.ca/programs/energy/residential-direct-install-of-efficient-products/


The voodoo of lobster economics

Ian Brown, The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jul. 11 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Jul. 21 2014, 1:34 PM EDT

Amid an unprecendent glut, Larry the doomed lobster is followed from a Nova Scotia trap to a Toronto table

 
 
Small lobsters are thrown back during an early morning fish off the coast of Nova Scotia. (Scott Munn for The Globe and Mail)

To the best of my recollection, Larry the Lobster showed up in one of Lloyd Robicheau’s traps some time between dawn and 8 a.m. on a Tuesday. My memory of the event is impaired because at the time I was either vomiting overboard or lying in the hold of The Master Rebel, Lloyd’s boat. We were seven kilometres out to sea on a rare gorgeous June day, the eastern shore of Nova Scotia a long eyebrow in the distance, and Lloyd Robicheau had been saying what he often says: “In the lobster racket, sooner or later you’re going to get bit.”

He meant not just in the business sense, but on a lobster-by-lobster basis as well. The feeling had only just returned to his left hand after being nipped by a pincer claw two weeks earlier; now another glistening black devil was trying to sever another of his fingers through his orange rubber gloves. To make a lobster open a claw, you hold the other claw shut. “It’s like playing with fire,” Lloyd said to Reese Reardon and Glendon Bellefontaine, his crew.

Finally freed, he tossed the waving crustacean into the slotted wooden box that keeps newly landed lobsters from ripping each other apart. Then Lloyd searched across the silvery water for the glint of the buoy that marked his next trap. I returned to vomiting. It was 6 o’clock in the morning, and the sea was as calm as a mussel’s day.

Clockwise from top left: Deckhand Glendon Bellefontaine puts a rubber band on a lobster's claw; deckhand, Reece Reardon steadies a trap; three of the catch sit in a wooden box. (Scott Munn for The Globe and Mail)

In 2013, Atlantic Canada was responsible for 68,000 tonnes, or just over half, of the 131,500 tonnes of lobster landed on the east coast of North America last year. And for the 160 fishermen in Lobster Fishing Area 32 off the coast near Dartmouth, N.S., this year’s annual nine-week lobster season (April 19 to June 20) has been breathtaking. So much lobster had been landed in Nova Scotia by the second week of June that the shore price dropped to $3.50 a pound, which was why everyone was so cranky. I’d been calling it a glut until a couple of local exporters begged me to refer to a “bountiful harvest” instead. They didn’t want their customers to think lobster was cheap.

To a lobster enthusiast, of course, cheap lobster sounds like a good, i.e. delicious, thing. But it never materializes. There is a voodoo to lobster economics. What used to be poor man’s fare, the fallback meal of people too impoverished to afford anything else, is now a billion dollar business and a universal mark of luxury – with the result that a lobster that sells for $3.50 on the wharf can cost $60 and more on a restaurant plate in New York or Toronto or Shanghai, regardless of how many lobsters are pulled from the sea. How this happens is the life story of Larry the Lobster.

As Captain Lloyd Robicheau steadies the boat, deckhand, Reece Reardon, hauls up a lobster trap during an early morning fish. (Scott Munn for The Globe and Mail)

Like every other licensed fisherman in Area 32, Lloyd is allowed 250 traps. He checks every trap every day. The routine’s always the same, give or take the roughness of the sea. Lloyd steers the boat to a buoy. Reese gaffs the rope and slips it into an automatic winch that hauls the trap off the bottom. A trap consists of a kitchen (where the bait is) and a parlour, and for a lobster operates like a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness: It’s easy to get into but almost impossible to get out of. Lloyd’s using wire, or “American” traps, at $118 each (plus $30 more for rope and the buoy) whereas most fishermen in Area 32 swear by wood, because it’s “darker” and absorbs water faster and is therefore less buoyant. It’s not much of a theory, scientifically, but a lot of Area 32 lobster fishermen swear by it. Early on in his fishing career, Lloyd lost 130 traps on the third day of the season, and another 45 at the end, so he sticks to wire.

Deckhand, Reece Reardon, of West Chezzetcook, stacks a lobster trap. (Scott Munn for The Globe and Mail)

When the trap has been hauled to the gunwales, Reese – 26, built like a fridge – hauls it onto the boat and starts tossing pregnant females and undersized chicks back into the sea. The little ones look like bath toys. Lloyd helps him. They fling the keepers to Glendon, who measures them and checks for blooms of roe or a V notched in a female’s tail (a decade-old conservation measure used to track egg-bearing females that fishermen believe has increased stocks), either of which gets the lobster thrown back. Glendon then bands the claws of the keepers before packing them into grey plastic 100-pound crates, the most common object in the lobster business. While he does that, Reese replaces the trap’s bait with fresh redfish heads or mackerel or gaspereau or occasionally a sculpin on a spike (the big lobsters like them) and waits while Lloyd repositions the boat. On Lloyd’s nod, he heaves the trap overboard and prepares the next bait bag. They can haul and change out a trap in less than three minutes.

They leave every morning at 3:20 in the pitch dark to avoid the breezy seas of the afternoon. Rocks and whistling are forbidden on the boat, as is turning against the sun while steering out of their harbour. Lobstering’s a superstitious business.

Deckhand, Reece Reardon coils a rope on the deck of the Master rebel. (Scott Munn for The Globe and Mail)

Today starts badly. Several strings of traps produce nothing but little ones, and by the point where the boat would normally have landed 250 pounds, they haven’t filled a 100-pound crate. The mood on the boat grows quiet. “Get out and walk,” Glendon says to an undersized lobster, throwing it overboard. Ten years ago, 80 pounds of lobster a day was an average catch in Area 32, and the Eastern Shore was one of the poorest places in Canada. This spring, however, most fishermen are hauling 500 pounds a day. Theories abound, all of which are true to an extent: lobsters procreate in cycles; climate change is warming the ocean, and the lobster are moving north out of Maine’s coastal waters; fishermen have better technology and bigger boats; conservation is working. But everyone knows the most important reason: The disappearance of codfish means lobsters have no natural predators.

Suddenly, at 14 fathoms, the bottom gets rockier, to judge from Lloyd’s electronic scanner. Two keepers in a trap is all it takes to turn his spirits. Five keepers is a great trap. In an instant, it’s a good day again. By 8 a.m., the boys have hauled 300 pounds of lobster, including the aforementioned Larry. “It’s in the hunt,” Reese says, lighting another smoke. “You move, you try here, you try there. But you’re always on the hunt.”

Deckhand, Glendon Bellefontaine measures a lobster. (Scott Munn for The Globe and Mail)

By 10:30 they’re done. The trio gaff six brimming 100-pound crates up to the dock and into a tank of cold circulating sea water. They then retire to the eight-by-eight-metre boatside shacks they live in during lobster season, to await the shore buyer.

The shore buyers in Area 32 have paid as much as $7 and as little as $3 a pound for live lobster this spring. Lloyd’s daily catch has ranged from nearly 700 pounds to less than 300. If he can trap 500 pounds a day (not a given) and average $5 a pound (especially not a given), and can get out, weather permitting, five days a week for nine weeks (he has lost as many as 21 days to weather in past years), he’ll gross $112,500. The average fisherman on the Eastern Shore grossed $98,000 last year. “If you don’t gross $100,000,” Lloyd insists, “you can’t really call it a living.” Still, as people who aren’t fishermen say, that isn’t bad for nine weeks of fishing.

But they’re very big ifs. Lloyd runs the math incessantly in his head. The Master Rebel cost him $200,000, and drinks 95 litres of diesel a day. A license, if he had to buy his today, would be $160,000 more. Reese (who hopes to fish for himself eventually) earns at least $150 a day. Life raft, $1,000; electronics, $30,000. Insurance, traps, bait (500 pounds a day at 80 cents a pound): Lloyd figures it costs him $600 a day to fish. If he nets two-thirds of his (theoretical) gross, and doesn’t have any mechanical breakdowns, he still has to pay taxes. But nobody knows how long the lobster will last or what prices will do. (They have dropped and risen in the weeks since I went fishing with Lloyd.) That’s why, despite the bountiful harvest, he fishes swordfish in the summer, plows snow in the winter, and for a long time farmed wild blueberries.

“A dollar-a-pound drop doesn’t sound like much,” Reese says. “But on just a crate of lobsters, that’s $100 gone, like that.” It’s all a gamble. That’s part of what appeals to us about lobster, and part of what we pay for. It’s why Lloyd calls lobstering a racket.

Larry the lobster. (Ian Brown/The Globe and Mail)

Derek Stevens, the shore buyer at Lobsterworld, shows up at 1:40 p.m. to pick up Lloyd’s lobsters. It is Derek, in fact, who spots Larry in one of the cases and suggests he would make a fine homarus americanus to follow from trap to plate.

Derek’s been at work since 7 a.m. “Price is back up to $4, okay?” he says to Lloyd, almost as an afterthought, and hands him a piece of paper: 590 pounds, or $2,360.

By 5 p.m., Derek is back at Lobsterworld, having picked up lobster from 12 boats in three communities – 60 crates in total. The lobsters are roughly graded – chix (a pound), culls (one-clawed lobsters and other mutants), females to be thrown back, pound-and-a-quarters, pound-and-a-halfs, all the way up to jumbos (4.5 pounds) and beyond – and re-stacked in drain-through crates under spigots spouting cold sea water. It sounds like we’re standing under a 30-metre waterfall. This is when I get my first real look at Larry.

Drain-through crates for lobster storage at Lobsterworld. (Ian Brown/The Globe and Mail)

$8.00

Larry the lobster's value out of the water. (Tonia Cowan/The Globe and Mail)

He’s a fine specimen: two pounds, green-black, large claws, male (two penises!), and a brand new rock-hard shell, judging from the unworn spines under his tail. His chitinous carapace (or shell, which is actually his skeleton, just worn on the outside) is an eat-but-don’t-be-eaten machine. He has the classic inscrutable, pissed-off, prehistoric arthropod lobster look: I often try to imagine the moment when the first person figured out these things were ultra-edible if dropped in boiling water. Omnivorous, cannibalistic, even self-cannibalizing if they get hungry enough, utterly devoid of any feeling except the urge to eat and scuttle and survive – does that not sound like the devil, or at least the head trader at a large brokerage firm? Larry even has blue blood – like spiders, like snails, like Satan.

Rick Murphy, the owner of Lobsterworld, peddles a few live lobster in his storefront for $5.99 a pound – nothing like the $12.99 they fetch at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto – but sells most of what he buys to shippers. “If I could get 50 or 60 cents a pound, I’d be very happy,” he says. He seldom is, thanks to the shore price system, whereby 20-odd buyers up and down the Eastern Shore are forced to match each others’ prices.

$9.30

Larry's value after staying at Lobsterworld. (Tonia Cowan/The Globe and Mail)

But “there’s too many lobsters coming out, not just here but everywhere,” which means Mr. Murphy is paying $4 a pound today for live lobster he may not be able to sell for $3.50 tomorrow. Other regions such as Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands price lobsters by auction, or have binding collective agreements that help guarantee fishermen’s incomes. Mr. Murphy blames the federal government for glossing over the intricacies of the fiercely independent Nova Scotia lobster fishery.

Like Geoff Irvine, director of the Lobster Council of Canada, Mr. Murphy would like to see more vertical integration between his region’s inshore fishermen, if they could agree to a steady shore price or a boat quota, and buyers and shippers, if they’d agree to share their subsequent profits with the fishermen – one of many schemes the Lobster Council is considering. “We’re not organized,” Mr. Murphy says. “But there could be a lot more dollars landed on shore.” Between 2002 and 2012, Maritime lobster landings leapt 40 per cent, from 26,000 tonnes a year to nearly 44,000 tonnes. The shore value of that lobster, however, rose only 6 per cent, from $391-million to $416-million. This is why fishermen like Lloyd think someone in the lobster business is getting richer a lot faster than they are.

At least Larry has a place to rest. For trucking and giving him a home for a few days, Rick Murphy will add 65 cents a pound to Larry’s price. Two-pound Larry was worth $8 out of the water. Rick resells him for $9.30.

The outdoor "seasoning" tank at Tangier Lobster Co. Ltd. (Ian Brown/The Globe and Mail)

Larry cools his carapace at Lobsterworld for three days, until he’s trucked half an hour down the road to Tangier Lobster Co. Ltd., a shipper, on Friday.

Tangier is the lobster equivalent of a spa in Palm Springs, one of 30-odd companies in North America that specialize in shipping premium live lobster. It’s run by Stewart Lamont, a large, pink, pleasant and voluble man who grew up wanting to be a writer in Yarmouth, N.S., but became a lawyer and travel agent for lobsters instead. As the annual North American catch has nearly doubled to 136,000 tonnes a year over the past decade, lowering the price of lobster, Mr. Lamont has turned to Asia as his saviour.

“China has 1.4 billion people,” he will tell you, whether you ask or not. “Those 1.4 billion people have a huge disposition to seafood in general, and to lobster in particular.” They’re also used to paying $35.40 (U.S.) a pound for Australian rock lobster – vastly inferior, Mr. Lamont claims, to the product plucked from the pristine (7 C versus 13 in PEI) Atlantic Ocean.

His trick is to keep the lobster as fresh as the day it came out of the ocean for as long as possible, preferably until the season ends and prices rise. Hence the cutting-edge operation at Tangier, an intricate series of refrigerated, 2- to 4-degree ocean-water holding tanks and hi-tech packing rooms designed to keep live lobsters in a state of sluggish semi-hibernation so their shells stay hard and their eggs unreleased.

Outside in the 25 C sun, a lobster will die in an hour. But in Tangier’s refrigerated slumber-party conditions, they can live six months. Darrin Hutt, Tangier’s operations manager, conducts a blood-protein analysis on every 100 cases of lobster that arrive to see how close the lobsters are to moulting their old hard shells for soft new ones. The ones he can’t delay he sorts for immediate sale by size and colour.

"Lobster condominiums" at Tangier Lobster Co. Ltd. (Ian Brown/The Globe and Mail)

Darrin stores the keepers in indoor tanks and “lobster condominiums” – adjustable, individual compartments in which the lobsters don’t have to be banded or fed, given their limited movements and lowered metabolisms. You can tell if a lobster has spent a long stretch in a holding tank, Darrin says: “They’re cannibals, he’ll eat his own antennae.”

Mr. Lamont can truck bugs to New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto for 25 cents a pound, and can fly them everywhere else for roughly $1.25. In the office next to Mr. Lamont’s, imminent orders are listed on a wipe board: 40 cases (at 30 pounds a case) to Sobey’s, 100 cases to the largest shellfish supplier in Korea, 67 cases to the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas (where a two-pound lobster dinner sells for $98), 39 cases to Edmonton. That’s 7,400 pounds of live lobster. If Mr. Lamont’s profit is 40 cents a pound on air shipments – a reasonable assumption – his profit on those orders alone is $3,000.

$11.60

Larry's value after staying at Tangier, the lobster "spa". (Tonia Cowan/The Globe and Mail)

For these tender ministrations, Tangier adds another $1.15 per pound. Two-pound Larry is now worth $11.60.

But where is Larry? Why, he’s lolling in Tangier’s outdoor “seasoning” tank, where over the next three days he will defecate what’s left of the last meal he ate (the mackerel and gaspereau in Lloyd’s trap), which will in turn prevent him from soiling his shipping container. (“The poop really messes things up,” is how Darrin put it.) Larry is having a colonic irrigation.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean to belittle Larry. I realize there are groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who believe, as David Foster Wallace explained in his brilliant essay Consider the Lobster, that lobsters have feelings, and that my decision to eat Larry is an act of cruelty and an affront to his existential spirit. I’m not a monster; I’ve had pangs. I have. One afternoon during Larry’s spa vacation at Tangier, in fact, I asked Kimberley Shears, the company’s director of logistics, whether eating Larry was cruel. Admittedly we were enjoying a delicious lunch of cold lobster tails in Tangier’s shoreside gazebo at the time, not the most sensitive choice of nourishment, considering the subject at hand. Ms. Shears bestowed a kind look on me, and said, “They technically don’t have a brain.” No, I thought: They have two penises instead, I guess it’s a trade-off. What lobsters have is ganglia, and a stomach where their brain would be if they had one. The jury seems to be out on whether lobsters feel pain. But even if they do, it is the act of confronting one’s own desire, and the moral price of that desire, that makes eating a lobster so compelling. That, in any event, was my thinking on the matter. “My advice,” Ms. Shears continued, “is not to be afraid of the lobster.” She said it as if many people were.

Deckhand Glendon Bellefontaine holds a lobster. (Scott Munn for The Globe and Mail)

One afternoon driving along the Eastern Shore I noticed a small house by the side of the road that was covered in carvings of animals and devils and pictures of Jesus. I pulled over and looked around. Eventually the owner came out. His name was Barry Collpitts. He was a folk artist, and a devout Catholic. (Acadia University’s art gallery was about to mount a show of his work.) There was a carving of a devil by the door, red and black, with horns and a pitchfork, and the legend I Am Not Welcome Here painted on his chest. I asked if I could buy it.

“The carvings on the house aren’t for sale,” Barry said. “Because then I’d have to make another for my house.” He meant that if he sold it to me, he’d have to put up another devil-guard in its place. “I guess you’re not religious or superstitious,” he said. “But I bet if you did put it up on your house, you wouldn’t take it down either.”

After that I began to notice how superstitious people who dealt with lobster could be. Not just Lloyd, with his rules about no whistling and no rocks on the boat, but everyone. They’re gamblers, reliable people who love tradition and schedules, but who also fancy a spot of danger too, whether it’s the possibility of a poor catch or too much catch, of a shipment delayed by weather or some other act of satanic randomness. Even Larry the Lobster looked a bit like the devil, dangerous and foreign but tempting. Larry embodied the dilemma of desire. Every time I thought of him – I’m serious about this – I was struck by the gravity of what I was about to do: Spend a shocking amount of money to boil alive an animal that had survived on the bottom of the ancient sea for 15 years before I came along.

Fedex staff unload a consignment of east coast Lobsters from the belly of Flight 7054 as it arrives at the Fedex facility at Toronto's Pearson Airport. (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)

The following Monday, six days after being trapped by Lloyd Robicheau, Larry leaves Tangier Lobster Co. by refrigerated truck in a cardboard box with two ice packs and seven other lobsters at 11 in the morning. By 7 he’s on a plane in Halifax, having been passed as loose cargo from the truck into the rear belly hold of FedEx Flight 7054, a gleaming white 757.

$14.44

Larry's value after flying FedEx. (Tonia Cowan/The Globe and Mail)

The plane stops in Moncton and again at Mirabel Airport outside Montreal for fuel and more freight, and arrives in Toronto, on a dedicated runway at FedEx’s vast complex north of Toronto’s Pearson International, at 11:05 p.m.

By 1 a.m., Larry’s sitting comfortably in a FedEx way station in Toronto’s east end, for which FedEx charges $1.44 a pound, bringing Larry’s worth to $7.22 a pound, or $14.44 in total.

Tomorrow morning at 11:50, FedEx will deliver him to Toronto wholesaler and retailer Lorne Ralph at Seaport Merchants, who will in turn add another $1.50 a pound for handling and delivering Larry to The Abbot, a gastropub in north Toronto, between 4 and 6 in the afternoon.

By then Larry will be worth nearly $9 a pound. He’ll arrive with his fellow lobsters in the same unopened box he flew in, and he’ll look good – moving and shaking and reaching his claws back behind him as if he were John Travolta dancing his way into a disco. Alas for Larry, he is not.

Ian Brown and his wife Johanna Schneller, centre, and others eat the lobster dinner at The Abbot in Toronto. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)

And so Larry the Lobster reached the final stage of his great journey. Chris Davis owns the Abbot with his wife Carrie McCloy and doesn’t usually serve lobster: It’s too expensive. But Lorne Ralph offered him a good price, so Chris thought he’d try it as a promotion and charge $30 a plate for a one-pound lobster.

An excellent lobster dinner for $30 is good value. I now knew, however, that the actual cost of Larry was barely $10 a pound. But that’s the formula in the restaurant business. “On the industry standard theory,” Chris said, “a third of what you sell it for is food cost.”

$17.40

Larry's value after passing through the wholesaler. (Tonia Cowan/The Globe and Mail)

Add another third for labour, and another third for overhead and profit, of which 60 per cent is rent, taxes, heating, napkins and the like. If Lorne sold Chris lobsters at $10 a pound, and Chris sold them for $30 a plate, he made $4 profit per meal. (No wonder nine out of 10 restaurants go broke.) The voodoo of lobster economics never goes away: a chunk of tail meat on a $23 apple, truffle and spaghetti squash salad may shout “Fancy!” to a diner, but the restaurant is making less profit than it can on steak, which isn’t alive and doesn’t spoil as quickly.

(By the same logic, two-pound Larry would cost Chris $8.70 a pound, or $17.40 in total, and tripled into a $52.20 meal on my plate. I gave the Abbot $60, including the tip. The lesson? There is no such thing as cheap live lobster in a good and profitable restaurant in Toronto.)

Chris planned a two-course meal: a butter-poached lobster crepe with ginger and pea shoots to start, and a boiled lobster later. By 6 p.m., his chef, Kevin Beale, had three huge pots of heavily salted water roiling with lemons and bay leaves. He planned to cook 30 one-pound lobsters for 14 minutes from the moment the water started boiling again after what he called “the drop.”

I watched Larry go into the pot. I waved goodbye. I am somewhat ashamed to say I felt no pang. Like, none. But by my count, at least 30 people helped Larry to his demise. I am willing to name names if it helps my moral case.

Left to right: A lobster is dropped in a pot of boiling water; cooked lobsters are removed; chef Kevin Beall cracks the shells of lobsters before serving them. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)

The meal was served at a communal table to 14 people, none of whom I knew except my wife. This is an excellent way to eat lobster. People are never shy at a lobster dinner, perhaps because you eat with your hands.

I asked Ms. McCloy what her next restaurant was going to be and she said, “It’s not a restaurant. I want to open a brothel.” I think she was serious. Then someone talked about eating tempura lobster in New York City, which sounded delicious and made me think about all the great lobster I had eaten – in the rough by the ocean and in a sublime lobster roll at a restaurant called Neptune in Boston; with friends every New Year’s Eve. I couldn’t separate the food from the company and the places. I can get quite emotional about this stuff, even if I have no feelings about eating Larry.

$52.20

Larry's value on the plate. (Tonia Cowan/The Globe and Mail)

Suddenly Larry arrived at the table. He was huge and red and imposing, but for some reason I waited before I cracked him. I owed him that. As I waited, I watched a young woman named Emma take on her own lobster. She approached it so methodically she might have been a welder. “It’s not for you that you need the bib, “ Emma said. “It’s for the person across from you. Always break the shell away from you.”

But mostly I remembered what Kim Shears said, back at Tangier, on that bright crisp day by the sea: Do not be afraid of the lobster. When I finally broke into Larry, I took my time. I rolled the sweet meat out of each of his legs with my thumb. I had to work to crack his massive crusher claw, but the flesh was astonishing and tender. I dipped his tail in butter or in lemon, and preferred the latter. I sucked his telson dry, and when it looked like there was nothing at all left in him I cracked his chest lengthwise and found mouthfuls of meat in there as well. I felt guilty and grateful, all at once. For that rare sensation alone Larry was worth the money.

Ian Brown is a Globe feature writer.

Source: The Globe and Mail
To View Original Artical - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/my-travels-with-larry/article19557387/


CMHC's new premium rates will be effective for new mortgage loan insurance requests submitted on or after May 1, 2014.

  • The home is located in Canada.

  • For CMHC-insured mortgage loans, the maximum purchase price or as-improved property value must be below $1,000,000, when the loan-to-value ratio is greater than 80%.

  • You will typically have a down payment of at least 5% of the purchase price of the dwelling, depending on the dwelling type.
    • Single-family and two-unit dwellings (5% minimum down payment)
    • Three- or four-unit dwellings (10% minimum down payment)

  • Normally, the minimum down payment comes from your own resources. However, a gift of a down payment from an immediate relative is acceptable for dwellings of 1 to 4 units. For eligible borrowers, additional sources of down payment, such as lender incentives and borrowed funds, are also permitted. Check with your lender for qualifying criteria and availability.

  • Your total monthly housing costs, including Principal, Interest, property Taxes, Heating (P.I.T.H.), the annual site lease in the case of leasehold tenure and 50% of applicable condominium fees, shouldn’t represent more than 32% of your gross household income (Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio). Use the GDS form to calculate how much you can afford in housing costs to be eligible.

  • Your total debt load shouldn’t be more than 40% of your gross household income. The Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio is your P.I.T.H. + the annual site lease in the case of leasehold tenure and 50% of condominium fees (if applicable) + payments on all other debt / gross annual household income. Add up your costs and determine your Total Debt Service ratio using the TDS form.

  • You also need to think about closing costs (for example, legal and land transfer fees) equivalent to 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price. Many first-time buyers are surprised by these costs. That is why, when qualifying for CMHC’s Mortgage Loan Insurance, our Home Purchase Cost Estimate worksheet form will help you calculate your total homebuying costs.

    Closing costs include but are not limited to one-time items such as lawyer fees, GST and PST as applicable, land transfer tax if applicable, adjustments, etc., to allow you to complete the house purchase.

  • Other requirements may apply and are subject to change. For details, please contact your lender or mortgage broker.

    Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. To view original article: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_003.cfm

"The smart money is betting on increased construction activity for the next several years, especially in the downtown core. Projects are underway now and beginning soon in Halifax that will keep crews busy and focus growth where it will benefit the city most- in the high-density core. ‎More density downtown lessens the burden on stretched infrastructure budgets, makes it easier to enhance transit and deliver municipal services, and concentrates population where the most services already exist. It leads to improved amenities (like our new public library currently under construction) and a healthier business district- for large AND small businesses.

The growth and increased success of the downtown is good for all existing homeowners in the Halifax Region, through rising property values and potentially better future property tax rates and better service delivery."

 

TAYLOR: A building boom for Halifax

Authour: ROGER TAYLOR BUSINESS COLUMNIST

Several sizable developments in the works for the city’s downtown area

An artist’s rendering of a proposed development by Southwest Properties Ltd. for 1583 Hollis St. in Halifax. (Contributed)
An artist’s rendering of a proposed development by Southwest Properties Ltd. for 1583 Hollis St. in Halifax. (Contributed)

 

Halifax has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to construction these days, especially when compared to other Nova Scotia centres.

After many years in the doldrums, development activity in the provincial capital has woken up in a big way.

That means much of the downtown and Spring Garden Road districts will be a construction zone for summer — and several construction seasons to come — if everything goes as planned.

Of course, the below-grade concrete work on the massive Nova Centre project on Argyle Street has already started, but Rank Inc. expects to receive official approval from regional council this spring to quickly start construction of the one-million square-foot complex.

The plans call for two office towers, a luxury hotel and the Halifax Convention Centre.

Earlier this week, the city’s influential design review committee approved three projects that could start construction as early as next month, once they jump through more hoops at city hall.

The endorsement by the city’s design review committee is a milestone for any developer.

It clears the way for developer Jim Spatz’s Southwest Properties Ltd. to move forward with its 21-storey mixed residential and commercial development at 1583 Hollis St., commonly referred to as the site of the former Bank of Canada building.

It is being demolished and Eric Burchill, Southwest’s vice-president of planning and development, says construction should begin in early May.

He says the company will reveal the name of the new building before starting construction, which should take two years to complete.

Southwest’s plan includes retail and restaurant space on the ground floor, with the remaining 20 floors containing a total of 281 residential units. The building will also have four levels of underground parking, enough room for 253 cars and 145 bicycles.

A number of the residential units in the building have been set aside for Premiere Executive Suites to use for long-term accommodations for visitors. Southwest is a major investor in Premiere.

Burchill says the company also hopes to get started this summer on the development of the Cunard Block on the Halifax waterfront and the long-awaited Motherhouse residential development in the Rockingham area.

Meanwhile, the new owner of the building at the corner of Sackville and Market streets also received approval from the design review committee for an eight-storey mixed residential and commercial project on that site.

Mosaik Property Management Ltd., headed by developer and landlord George Giannoulis, wants to redevelop the Night Magic Fashions building and the structure next door on Market Street.

The plan for Market Lofts calls for the demolition of the existing buildings while maintaining the three-storey brick facade of the building on the corner. The additional five storeys will be stepped back from the main facade.

A total of 39 residential units — a mixture of bachelor and one- and two-bedroom units — will be created, but the plan does not include any parking for cars. It has set aside facilities for bicycles, as stipulated by the land-use bylaw for the downtown.

In a slightly less ambitious plan, Westwood Developments Ltd. had its proposal for a two-storey addition to the former Royal Bank building at 5466 Spring Garden Rd., on the corner of Queen Street, approved by the design committee.

The building has two retail tenants: American Apparel and Starbucks. Westwood, headed by Halifax developer Danny Chedrawe, will also make alterations to the building facade along Queen Street, where American Apparel has its entrance. Another minor change is a new awning over the Starbucks entrance on Spring Garden Road.

There is plenty of construction going on in that part of the city, including the creatively designed new Central Library, which is being built across the street.

There are also many other projects in various stages of construction that should provide the sense that something positive is happening in Halifax.


by Crystal Hilchey, Client Care Administrator

There’s one dish my family can’t do without at any Holiday meal - sweet potato casserole. I expect to eat my sweet potato casserole at least three times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. If you decide to try it, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have - maybe it will become a favorite in your household.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole

4 cups sweet potato, cubed

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter, softened

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup  all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons butter, softened

½ cup chopped pecans


EasterDinner2013WP

Making a family meal special is all about preparation and looking after small details that come together to make an experience great. Trying to balance everyone’s favorites, timing the dishes so they’re all ready to plate together, paying attention to table presentation, special linens, fancy plates and the “good” table setting you don’t often use – these all make a difference in the final product, not to mention all the extra cleaning done & decorations put up to create a festive atmosphere.

Putting this time and effort into events (even though it can be extra work) pays off in the end. Although each of your family or guests may not notice every little touch, the overall effect helps everyone enjoy their time spent together and makes the food you’ve worked hard to prepare taste even better – it pays off in everyone’s positive experience.

That kind of diligence and caring about presentation can have the same effect on potential home buyers – if buyers feel at home in your property, and get that sense of care and preparation while they visit, chances are that feeling will be remembered. In life, people often don’t remember what they saw or what was said to them, but they always remember how those things or their experience made them feel. A house that looks and feels “together” during a viewing will often land at the top of a buyer’s favorites list, and will often sell sooner than its competition that may be lacking those qualities (even if the features or pricing make a better case “on paper”) and often for closer to asking price.

Working hard to “merchandise” or prepare your home in advance of showings can seem like a lot of work, but it all pays off in the end - through more favorable impressions from potential buyers and ultimately in earlier and better offers.

For help preparing your home for the most successful sale, give us a call. We can help.


ARIAL-PHOTO Public Gardens

It must be spring! The Halifax Public Gardens re-open on Thursday April 10th, from 8AM to dusk. Whether you live in the Halifax area or are just here on vacation, a trip to the Public Gardens is a must. Enter through the beautiful ornate wrought iron gates to visit the many attractions with-in.  There are two bridges great for wedding and graduation photos and you can enjoy lots of different kinds of flora and several statues and urns while you stroll around the park. Your trip would not be complete without a visit to the Bandstand, placed at the heart of the Public Gardens. Concerts and social events have been held here for over 125 years. For more information and details on the Public Garden visit www.halifaxpublicgardens.ca/.


A savvy Realtor can help you make smart decisions about not just how much you can spend, but how much you SHOULD spend, and how your investment in a home will fit into the market  for years to come. There are lots of extra factors that an inexperienced buyer may not consider, and an experienced Realtor’s insights can help you make the right choices for not only your budget but also your lifestyle.

Home buying has other related costs
By Denise Deveau, For Postmedia News

Home buying has other related costs
Jesse MacNevin decided to be modest in his choice in buying a home.
Photograph by: Tim Fraser For Postmedia News , For Postmedia News

Unlike a lot of first-time home buyers, in 2009 Jesse MacNevin decided to go for a house that was less than the amount he was approved for.

"I started doing the numbers and talked to a few real estate agents," he says. "Then I went to my credit union for a pre-approval. I realized then that I needed to focus more on what I could actually afford versus how much they would give me."

While he was given the green light to aim for a $350,000 home, he settled on a condo for just under $260,000 instead. "I didn't want home ownership at the expense of everything else. I remember looking at my budget at the time and thinking the last thing I wanted was not to be able to travel. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was cheaper and fulfilled all my needs. In hindsight, it was a good move."

MacNevin says having a good real estate agent and lawyer helped him determine what he could really afford, where there might be potential problems and the ins and outs of closing the deal. A mortgage broker was also important when it came to the signing process and making sure there was flexibility in his mortgage terms.

Not everyone entering the home buying market is so diligent.

When doing the mortgage math, it's not enough to plug some numbers into an online estimator, says David Stafford, managing director, real estate secured lending, for Scotiabank in Toronto. "This is probably the largest single financial transaction that most people do in their lives, and it can get very complicated. Online estimators typically won't give you the full picture."

He says buyers need to look beyond the actual purchase price and factor in a percentage (typically 1.5 per cent of the purchase price) for closing expenses from the outset. "Land transfer taxes, legal fees, title insurance and other things are all part of the math." They also need to consider ongoing expenses that will be over and above monthly mortgage payments, such as utilities, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and condo fees.

Sometimes there are additional surprises that come into play in the initial stages of home ownership, such as reimbursement fees if the former owner has prepaid their property taxes and moving costs, says Toronto-based Richard Desrocher, a general legal practitioner and former real estate broker.

The immediate financial aspects are only part of the process, which is why a home inspection is a good idea, he says. "You won't know what's going on behind the walls and on the roof. It's pretty scary after you close a deal to have to deal with drain problems."

There are also ways people can reduce their costs if they talk to the right people, Desrocher says. "A lot don't realize that many financial institutions are willing to negotiate down from their published rates. A mortgage broker is much better informed about where the best deals are and can shop the market for you."

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix
Source: To view orginal post http://www.thestarphoenix.com/business/Home+buying+other+related+costs/9662480/story.html

April-fool-day-image

April Fools’ Day is known for being a day of play and practical jokes. Some people love this day while others can’t wait for it to be over. There are several theories on how this day came to pass. One theory was that France changed its calendar in the 1500s to match the Roman calendar. This change made the New Year begin in January like it still does today. There were some people who chose to still celebrate the New Year in spring, and became known as “April fools.”

However this day is known for pranks so maybe another theory by Joseph Boskin makes better sense.  His theory is about a king who let a court jester become king for a day of the Roman Empire on April first. No matter how it came to pass it is a tradition at least for now and for the people who love pranks they refuse to give it up.

To see the “Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time” visiting the following link. www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/aprilfool/


Locals say the iconic Church Point Lighthouse was destroyed by wind during Wednesday night's spring blizzard.Photo: Dan Robichaud

We have all felt the effects of the nor'easter that hit the Maritimes yesterday. Our vehicles can be shoveled out, our driveways and roads cleared and the power outages restored, but some things cannot be fixed. A prime example of this is the loss of the iconic Church Point Lighthouse in Southwest, NS. The 140 year old lighthouse was ripped to shreds in the high winds. To see all the details please visit: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/fierce-winds-destroy-iconic-nova-scotia-lighthouse-1.2589000


Snow5[1]

Say goodbye to the grass you see, and say hello to snow covering the ground! It is official there is a blizzard warning in effect, we all thought Spring had arrived, but I guess because we live in Nova Scotia we had to have one more storm. Isn’t it fitting that it is hitting Halifax tomorrow, a Wednesday! If you want to keep in the loop on closures and the weather conditions check out the CBC’s Storm Central Page. http://www.cbc.ca/stormcentre/ns/


Learnign to Ride a Bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately this is going to be one of those blog posts where the title is confusing until the very end of the post. Like many of you are probably thinking, "I'll just skip the middle, and head straight for the end." While that is going to give you a very cleverly worked metaphor, you will be missing the heart and soul of this post. What is the best lesson you have ever learned?

One of those classic "interview questions" designed to have you share an experience that hopefully has shaped you in some way, shows some life experience or your character. However, many people panic at the question, trying to remember a past event that will portray them in an appropriate light to there perspective client, business partner or employer. The first time I heard this question, I was 17, going for a management possion at a retail store. I too, have asked the same question interview I have conducted. I've always seen it as a platform the applicant to tell me about them. I think we've all felt that pressure or need to tell a great tale, but, not many of us have stories or the gravitas of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Richard Branson, so we panic. Forgetting what the question is really asking, focusing on the solution and not problem. However, If we look at the likes of Richard Branson faced with the same situation, what would they do......answer it honestly from the heart...

If you don't have the right experience to reach your goal, go in another direction, look for a different way in. There's always a solution to the most complex problem. If you want to fly, get down to the airfield at the age of sixteen and make the tea. Keep your eyes open. Look and learn. You don't have to go to art school to be a fashion designer. Join a fashion company and push a broom. Work your way up.
- Richard Branson

Everyone wants to have things, now, but things take time, whether it be a new car, a house or a promotion. These things all take time, and none of them will define you, yet, the journey to get them just might. Goals or success are internal, what is important to you will be different from what is important to others, so be passionate about what you do and who you are. Put your heart and soul in to your goals and dreams and journey will be as rewarding as the destination!

For any of you wondering, what my answer to the question was, back when I was 17? My parents had taught me a lot of about hard work and never giving up particularly when it came to failing. So I said to the interview panel "learning to ride a bike." One of them laughed, the other two looked very unimpressed. She followed up "why?" To which I answered "when you learn to ride a bike, you learn the importance of getting up when you fall down and trying again. Also, that without balance you cannot move forward." This was not an amazing answer or even an entertain one. However, it was a honest one and a heartfelt one. No matter where life takes me I will always fall back on that lesson, and it also goes to show that even though the hardest questions are difficult, the answers can be quite simple.

Adam

 By Adam Cooper, ABR
 The Bagogloo Team, RE/MAX nova