Do You Need a Property Manager?

If you already own a rental property, or you’re looking to get into the business, the idea of having to deal with tenants and managing the property might be daunting.

But that’s where property managers step in.

A credible property manager will take over the responsibilities that rental owners might not want to handle. This could include surveying the market and area to determine a reasonable and competitive rate to charge for rent. Property managers can also help you sell a home by generating solid leads through a variety of channels, including social media, advertising, and the multiple listing service.

Once your property has caught the eye of prospective tenants, the property manager can help you vet the tenants to make sure any potential renters will be responsible and reliable. Once the tenants have been screened and approved and have moved in, property managers will even be able to protect you from potential lawsuits by staying up to date on your city’s laws, rules, and regulations to make sure you’re in the clear.

From there, they’ll be able to take over the less desirable parts of property management, like handling emergency repairs, creating monthly expenditure reports, taking care of important tax filings, and performing home visits. Given the wide range of services that property managers provide, you might now be wondering how much they charge. Fees vary widely depending on where you live, but most managers will charge one month’s rent to secure a tenant and then charge a monthly fee to manage the property.

As with all things related to buying and renting property, you’ll want to make sure you do your research before hiring a property manager. But once you find one that is experienced and dependable, you might be amazed by the peace of mind their services can bring.

Your real estate agent can assist by recommending a reputable company.

Five Interior Design Disasters to Avoid

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that saying rings true for how one chooses to decorate one’s home. Therefore, one person’s love of leopard print could be another person’s decorating disaster. If you are looking to sell your home this year, change up or avoid these top five no-nos.

Wall-to-wall carpeting. Having wall-to-wall carpet is the number one no-no. According to Jonathan Scott of the famed Property Brothers, no one is looking to buy a house with carpet – which can hold many of life’s unsavoury side effects like dirt, stains, and hair.

Mirrored walls. In theory, this decorating idea should make a small space appear larger. However, according to Scott, the effect can actually make your room look like an “’80s dance hall.” Let the dance hall die and opt for full-length mirrors instead.

Clutter. When it comes to decorating to sell, less is almost always more. Be particularly picky about the foyer, since this provides the initial impression of the interior. Keep shoes, winterwear, bags, and other daily-use items organized and out of sight. Rearrange or remove furniture and décor throughout the home to make each room appear as spacious and inviting as possible.

Loud wallpaper. Although wallpaper can add that pop of colour that a room desperately needs, a loud or dizzying pattern can turn off buyers. If you want to add appealing hues, stick with paint.

White on white. Although beautiful, the colour white is not realistic when it comes to life’s many mishaps. Realtor.com recommends that homeowners gravitate toward rich shades such as rust browns, black, and forest green.

Could Driverless Cars Drive Real Estate Values?

Imagine a world where humans never have to worry about wasted commute times. Imagine being able to use that time to work, spend quality time with your kids, plan dinner, or catch up on some much-needed z’s.

Sounds magical, doesn’t it? That magic could be coming to a street near you, as driverless cars are poised to become mainstream technology worldwide.

As Tesla, GM, and BMW clamber to get their fleets on the streets, these autonomous cars could have a far-reaching effect on industries other than auto.

When the human is removed from behind the wheel, the potential for error diminishes. Therefore, safety precautions such as auto insurance, parking tickets, speed traps, and law enforcement may no longer be needed.

These vehicles could also have a significant impact on the real estate market. When autonomous cars become the new norm, public transit will no longer be the go-to for those who are unable to drive.

The loss of public transit could have a domino effect on the real estate industry, since cities would no longer be built around transit systems. What was once considered less desirable residential real estate may become more popularbecause of the distance from transit hubs. According to an article in Forbes, these areas could offer a “greater appeal [that] could translate into increasing demand and rising property values.”

The long-reaching impact these cars will have on society is still being mapped, but it should make for an interesting ride.

Increase Property Value by Avoiding These Landscape Blunders

Everyone knows the importance of making a good first impression. It’s no different when it comes to your home’s curb appeal, which refers to your property’s overall appearance from the street.

To make your home’s “frosting” as appealing as possible, you’ll definitely want to think about planting stunning blooms and making sure your landscaping is well manicured and maintained. Implementing a long-term landscaping plan can help increase your property value when it comes time to sell.

When you go to plant, make sure to avoid the below common landscaping mistakes that homeowners make when planting trees and shrubs.

First, avoid planting invasive tree species. Some such species, like bamboo, grow quickly and actually push out native plants, which does tremendous damage to an area’s biodiversity.

Another no-no is planting too much and too close together. When too many trees and plants are crammed together, the greenery doesn’t have enough space to grow bigger, stronger, or healthier. While aesthetically this could look good for the first few years, the plants will eventually mature and fight each other for light and nutrients. So, unless you want a property covered in dead leaves and branches, it’s best to save your coins and plant less.

When planting anything, you’ll want to make sure you’re not too close to home. This, professionals warn, is a nightmare in the making. Trees planted too close to the home will, over time, get woody and grow too close, which will bring bugs and moisture inside. The resulting dampness could actually lead to rot inside your house, and the tree’s big roots could damage your property’s foundation or basement.

When it comes to planting and maintaining your home’s green exterior, do your research and exercise restraint. While trees and shrubs certainly boost your home’s value and curb appeal, some green mistakes could cost you.

What You Need to Know before Becoming a Landlord

Thinking of becoming a landlord? While this can be financially and personally rewarding, you must do your homework before you take the leap.

To help you learn the ropes and avoid any costly missteps, here are some handy tips of the trade.

It cannot be overstated how important it is for landlords to do their pre-closing homework.

During the home inspection, remember to take a thorough look at the property to see what will need to be repaired or replaced.

For example, you might want to change the toilets to low-flow models. You’ll also probably want to invest in essential upgrades to three common areas: water, door locks, and flooring.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of underestimating the costs of fixing and maintaining the property, both before and after a tenant has moved in.

Most landlords account for insurance and taxes, but it’s easy to miss expenses like garbage, gardening, and regular maintenance.

According to Money, you should set aside at least 35 to 45% of your annual rental income to cover these costs. (And when you’re calculating this income, it’s a good rule of thumb to account for only 10 or 11 monthly payments per year.)

When it comes to finding a tenant, don’t be too relaxed. Interview prospective tenants on the phone first to find out if they meet your requirements. Then, it’s important to check your potential tenants’ credit and speak to their references. Confirm the source and amount of their income. It should be at least 2.5 times the annual rent. You should also learn what’s legal in your town. For example, can you ban pets?

Once you’ve found a great tenant, act fast to get the lease signed. From there, never forget that you’re running a business and your tenant is a customer. Treat your customer right, and success is more likely to come your way.

 

Prepping Your Home for Sale: Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Every seller wants to maximize his or her profit. Partnering with a real estate agent is a great start. Homeowners can further increase their bottom line with a few simple steps. To get the most out of your house, complete the following before you list.

Hire your own home inspector. If a buyer’s inspector finds issues with your home, you can expect your profit to shrink. Stay one step ahead by hiring your own home inspector to unearth any potential issues.

Invest in repairs. In addition to addressing any trouble the home inspection reveals, it’s a good idea to have cosmetic issues addressed. Prospective buyers notice things like cracked tile, chipped baseboards, or a squeaky floorboard, and this will be reflected in their offer.

Upgrade where it counts. You don’t have to renovate your whole house to turn a healthier profit. Make small, impactful swaps, such as switching out lighting, cabinet hardware, or shower heads for cleaner, more contemporary options.

Add a few new accessories. Fresh flowers and potted plants go a long way in making a room feel inviting. For a cozier living room, drape a cable-knit blanket over the couch. String Edison bulb lights over a patio and put an Adirondack chair on the front porch. These small touches add major warmth.

Treat it like a model home. To sell your house quickly and for the most money, treat it like a house you’ve been hired to stage. Put personal effects into storage, declutter, remove artwork that could be seen as too loud, and make sure the house is absolutely spotless.

Learn the Language of Lighting to Enhance Your Living Space

A beautifully lit home is warm and welcoming. A distinctive glow can set the scene, enhance a room, highlight a detail, or make a workspace downright workable. But lighting has a language all its own.

Do you know the lingo? Flush, recessed, pendant, starbursts, pots … the list goes on. Where should you begin?

In a recent houselogic article, columnist Emily Dunham writes, “… lighting can be a bear to understand. The world has its own language (know what lumens and Kelvins are?), and increasing costs can make decisions intimidating.” Dunham notes that LED lights can cost as much as $35, and Apple sells a new number that goes for about $65.

But with careful planning, you can light up your life and go easy on the budget. Here’s a quick lighting language lesson to get started.

Kelvin is a scale of measurement for the “colour” a light produces.

Wattage tells you how much electricity a bulb consumes.

Lumens are the amount of light or brightness you get from a bulb.

The next important lesson is lighting layers. Since every room has different lighting requirements, it’s important to think in these three layers: ambient, task and accent.

Ambient is the general lighting in a room, often coming from overhead. Task lighting illuminates an area where a particular task is completed. Accent lighting highlights something to which you want to draw attention.

Think of the activities you do in each room and consider the options. For example, in the kitchen, you’ll want to avoid overhead lights that create shadows on the counters. Instead, choose side lights or under-the-cabinet lights to illuminate the tasks at hand.

The size of your room also dictates the lighting you need. It’s wise to use at least two types of lighting to create the ideal effect.

Now that you know the basics, go shed some light!

Want to Sell Your Home Faster? Try These Tips

When you’re getting ready to list your house, the goal isn’t just to sell – it’s to sell quickly! The longer your house is on the market, the less likely it is to fetch top dollar.

Want to sell your house as quickly as possible? These tips are essential.

Hire a real estate agent and follow their advice

Some sellers are tempted to go it alone. But for a quick sale that maximizes profit, go with a real estate agent – and listen to their suggestions. Their market knowledge is invaluable when it comes to pricing and marketing your home.

Boost your curb appeal

Give your front door a fresh coat of paint (punchy red, blue, or yellow is a nice way to switch it up), add hanging baskets and planters to your front stoop, and resod your lawn. A home that looks well cared for is more inviting to prospective buyers.

Stage it

If you really want to sell fast and you have the budget required, allow a professional stager to come and work their magic. Can’t swing the cost? Borrow some of their tricks: Get rid of all personal items, use mirrors to create the illusion of light and space, add throw pillows and blankets to seating, and put fresh flowers or small potted plants in each room.

Be flexible

Selling fast means maximizing the number of buyers coming to see your house, so be willing to vacate at a moment’s notice. Work with your agent to create as many viewing times as possible.

Are Renos Worth the Effort for Resale?

At some point during the chaos of every renovation, one question is asked: “Is it worth it?” Is it worth the upheaval? Is it worth the cost? Most important, is it worth the effort when it comes time to sell?

The answer: It depends.

It depends on what you choose to renovate. Are you planning major overhauls or minor improvements? Recent statistics suggest small changes may actually be better than extensive renovations when it comes time to sell.

The 2018 cost-vs.-value report from Remodeling Magazine shows that smaller upgrades vs. larger renovations get you the most bang for your buck.

According to the report, those who renovate on a massive scale should expect a return of 56 per cent. This is less than the steady return of 64 per cent over the past two years.

Why the drop? Craig Webb, editor of Remodeling Magazine, believes it is because some real estate professionals suspect their local market may be reaching its peak. He explains, “Consequently, spending a lot of money does not automatically mean your house will just ride the escalator up and be worth a lot more.”

So, if you are planning a reno in 2018, the rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Forgo a major kitchen overhaul for a simple upgrade that could recoup you 81.10 per cent vs. 53.50 per cent. Instead of building that addition to the master suite (ROI 48.3 per cent), consider something with more curb appeal, such as a new garage door (ROI 98.3 per cent), manufactured stone veneer (ROI 97.10 per cent) or a wood deck (ROI 83 per cent).

When asking yourself if all the effort is worth it, keep your real estate agent in mind.

This professional knows your market inside and out and can best advise you about whether your potential remodel will help sell your home quickly. Seek his or her input before starting your next project.

Closing Costs: It’s about More Than Your Down Payment

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a budget. How much house can you afford? Within what price range will you shop?

A down payment is, unfortunately, only one part of that budget. To correctly determine the affordability of a home, it’s essential that prospective buyers consider the costs that arise at the time of closing.

Closing costs vary from province to province and from municipality to municipality, and they can represent anywhere from 1 to 4 per cent of a home’s selling price, according to ratehub.ca. That may not sound like much, but when you’re looking to buy a $750,000 home, closing expenses can add as much as $30,000 to your costs.

Here’s a look at a handful of those expenses and what they will run you:

Property taxes. A property tax adjustment at closing ensures the sellers and buyers pay the amount of taxes each rightfully owes for the year. Depending on the date of closing, you may need to pay a lump sum on your new home or one you’re selling.

Legal fees. The preparation of the required legal documents by a lawyer can cost you at least $500.

Home inspection fee. Most home buyers like to include a successful home inspection as a condition of their offer to purchase. A qualified home inspector will cost $500 and up.

Land transfer tax. Each province charges land transfer tax (LTT), which is calculated as a percentage of the home’s purchase price. The rate of the LTT varies by province. Some cities also charge a municipal LTT, adding an additional cost to consider.

Are Renos Worth the Effort for Resale?

At some point during the chaos of every renovation, one question is asked: “Is it worth it?” Is it worth the upheaval? Is it worth the cost? Most important, is it worth the effort when it comes time to sell?

The answer: It depends.

It depends on what you choose to renovate. Are you planning major overhauls or minor improvements? Recent statistics suggest small changes may actually be better than extensive renovations when it comes time to sell.

The 2018 cost-vs.-value report from Remodeling Magazine shows that smaller upgrades vs. larger renovations get you the most bang for your buck.

According to the report, those who renovate on a massive scale should expect a return of 56 per cent. This is less than the steady return of 64 per cent over the past two years.

Why the drop? Craig Webb, editor of Remodeling Magazine, believes it is because some real estate professionals suspect their local market may be reaching its peak. He explains, “Consequently, spending a lot of money does not automatically mean your house will just ride the escalator up and be worth a lot more.”

So, if you are planning a reno in 2018, the rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Forgo a major kitchen overhaul for a simple upgrade that could recoup you 81.10 per cent vs. 53.50 per cent. Instead of building that addition to the master suite (ROI 48.3 per cent), consider something with more curb appeal, such as a new garage door (ROI 98.3 per cent), manufactured stone veneer (ROI 97.10 per cent) or a wood deck (ROI 83 per cent).

When asking yourself if all the effort is worth it, keep your real estate agent in mind.

This professional knows your market inside and out and can best advise you about whether your potential reno will achieve the return you desire.

Seek his or her input before starting your next project.

Closing Costs: It’s about More Than Your Down Payment

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a budget. How much house can you afford? Within what price range will you shop?

A down payment is, unfortunately, only one part of that budget. To correctly determine the affordability of a home, it’s essential that prospective buyers consider the costs that arise at the time of closing.

Closing costs vary from province to province and from municipality to municipality, and they can represent anywhere from 1 to 4 per cent of a home’s selling price, according to ratehub.ca. That may not sound like much, but when you’re looking to buy a $750,000 home, closing expenses can add as much as $30,000 to your costs.

Here’s a look at a handful of those expenses and what they will run you:

Property taxes. A property tax adjustment at closing ensures the sellers and buyers pay the amount of taxes each rightfully owes for the year. Depending on the date of closing, you may need to pay a lump sum on your new home or one you’re selling.

Legal fees. The preparation of the required legal documents by a lawyer can cost you at least $500.

Home inspection fee. Most home buyers like to include a successful home inspection as a condition of their offer to purchase. A qualified home inspector will cost $500 and up.

Land transfer tax. Each province charges land transfer tax (LTT), which is calculated as a percentage of the home’s purchase price. The rate of the LTT varies by province. Some cities also charge a municipal LTT, adding an additional cost to consider.

Condo Life Is Now a Reality for Many Canadians

With the dwindling of land available for construction of detached and semi-detached single-family homes, Canadians are accepting the need for vertical living and high-density communities. Even naysayers are contemplating life in a “box.”

The reality is – as Canada’s most recent census numbers indicates – condo living is here to stay.

The 2016 census revealed that 13.3% of all Canadian households (approximately 1.9 million households) live in condominiums – an increase of 1.2 percentage points over the previous census conducted in 2011.

Of course, that differs across the country and from urban areas to suburbs and rural locations. In Vancouver, for example, some 30% of the population call a condo home. In Toronto, that number sits at 20.9%. But in both Halifax and Moncton, the number of condo dwellers drops to below 5%.

Notes a recent CBC article published after census results were released: “In other cities, meanwhile, condos barely rate as a living option. In Greater Sudbury, Ont., Saint John and St. John’s … less than one out of every 20 people live in a condo.”

The numbers, of course, correlate to population: Both Vancouver and Toronto boast larger populations, and wildly different real estate markets, than their smaller counterparts. The census reported that, by homeowner estimates, the cost of an average home in Vancouver totalled $1,005,920 compared to $734,924 in Toronto. And across Canada, the average value of a home was $443,058, up from $345,182 in 2011. And, interestingly, two-thirds of households owned their condos, while renters accounted for the remainder. Perhaps something to watch for in future?

‘Curb Appeal’ Renos a Growing Trend

As the winter thaw begins, and spring buying and selling fever heats up, there are certain renovations you can make on your home to ensure you get an optimal return on investment (ROI).

Whether you’ve been waiting for that perfect time to list, or are looking to flip fast, being strategic with your home renovations can make the difference between losing money and having extra cash in your pocket.

As a Houzz article points out, when it comes to home renovations, the “size of your space, the scope of work involved, your DIY abilities, the quality of materials you choose and even your geographic location all play a part.”

Invest in curb appeal

However, your renovations don’t have to be earth-shattering. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, the trend of making “curb appeal” renovations to your home scored a higher ROI than larger renovations.

Boost energy efficiency

Surprisingly, installing loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic came in as number one on the report. Although it doesn’t seem as exciting as other home remodels, it makes your home more energy efficient, and it can be accomplished yourself, inexpensively. Plus, it returns an estimated 107.1% on your investment.

Interestingly, something as subtle as replacing your garage door could yield you as much as an 85% ROI. Landscaping is another tried, tested and true improvement that can return as much as 650% to 900%, according to Global National, on your investment. Installing new windows, adding high-efficiency appliances and repainting the exterior and interior of your home can make a huge impact for little cost.

Key to success

Bryan Baeumler, host of a variety of reno shows on HGTV Canada, tells Global National the keys to a successful home reno is: Fitting your plan into a budget and not your budget into a plan; cost vs. impact; and what makes the most sense for you.

‘Is It Done Yet?’ How to Renovate With Kids

Spring home improvements can be stressful, especially when you’re living in the middle of it. Add children to the mix, and the tension increases.

But you don’t need to take a vacation while your home is being remodeled – even if walls are coming down. Here are some tips on how to continue to live as a family during a major renovation.

Your children’s space – and their routines – will be disrupted. To avoid comments like “When can we use the kitchen again?” share the construction schedule with them.

Prepare for disruptions: Kitchens and bathrooms are often the rooms being remodeled; unfortunately, they’re also the most used. If possible, consider completing one room at a time.

Set up a temporary kitchen in another room and prepare meals in advance that can be quickly reheated. Get the kids to help you devise a bathroom schedule; they may be more inclined to follow it if they’re involved.

Make safety a priority: Know where your kids are during work hours. Make sure they understand the safety risks, and put lots of space between them and the work. Also ensure your contractor stores tools away safely at the end of the day.

Dust can be hazardous for anyone with allergies. Plastic sheeting should be used to seal off the area under construction from your temporary living space, but you also may want to consider closing the heating and cooling vents. As well, your contractor should use nontoxic paints and stains.

Choose your contractor wisely. Make sure the company has a reputation for completing jobs safely, and be prepared to pay more for contractors who are properly insured and follow regulations. Ask them how comfortable they are with children on site and make sure everyone agrees to and obeys the safety rules.

Finally, when it’s finished, have fun together in the new space. After all, you – and the kids – deserve it.

Why Canadians Are Embracing the Trend of Smaller Homes

The small house movement may be coming to a neighbourhood near you, proving that “bigger is better” is not necessarily true.

Having a bigger space to fill, a bigger mortgage to pay, and a smaller disposable income make having a large home unrealistic for many young professionals and families.

In an article in homify.ca, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association suggests that Canadian homes have long been among the world’s largest, at 2,300 sq. feet (213.68 sq. meter) on average. And this hasn’t changed. In the same article, a 2017 report from consultant PwC suggests homes in Canada are the third largest in the world.

However, rising prices, dwindling space and an influx of immigration may make room for the small housing movement to gain a foothold in Canada. As the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) states: ” Home prices have risen ahead of economic fundamentals such as personal disposable income and population growth, resulting in overvaluation in many Canadian housing markets.”

In fact, cities such as Toronto and Vancouver have already witnessed the small housing phenomenon as limited space and affordability have forced developers to think small.

Paul Kealey, co-owner of EkoBuilt, near Ottawa, told The Ottawa Citizen that there are many positives to the small housing movement, as the houses are “cheaper to build and operate, less expensive to maintain and repair.” That also may mean lower taxes.

Sounds like the small housing movement is on the verge of packing a big punch in housing markets across Canada.

Make Your Home Buyer Friendly with Focused Staging

With the move to buyers’ markets in many areas, you’ll want your for-sale home to look its best. And that requires focus. Focused staging, that is.

Staging your home can increase the offer amount by up to 10%, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2017 Profile of Home Staging. But what if you haven’t the time or cash to stage the whole house?

You focus on the rooms that push buyers’ buttons. A messy mudroom may not kill your sale, but an unusable kitchen or master bedroom may be a deal-breaker.

Few buyers can see beyond your personal style, particularly in hot-button areas like the living room, kitchen and master bedroom. So concentrate on staging these.

This article – from RISMedia – may help:

According to the NAR Profile, the living room is one of the most popular to stage. Make it feel larger by replacing bulky furniture with smaller pieces. Help buyers to imagine their things here; leave lots of space on shelves and around furniture.

In the kitchen, declutter countertops, the fridge and inside cabinets (yes, buyers willlook). Add colour with a bowl of fruit.

“Most bedrooms don’t need much more than the bed, dresser, end tables, and a mirror,” the article suggests. Make the bed the focus with beautiful, but not necessarily expensive, linens.

A clean bathroom is a saleable bathroom. The master bath, especially, should gleam. Add attractive towels and battery candles for atmosphere.

And don’t forget to tidy the outside. You know what they say about first impressions.

Polishing the Crystal Ball: Real Estate in 2018

Whether you’re planning to become a home buyer in 2018 or hoping to sell your current property, it can be hard to forecast the way the real estate market will go. Here are some trend predictions, gathered from several sources, which maydominate in 2018:

A recent report from the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers brings good news: the usual boom-and-bust cycle isn’t behaving typically, so what could have been a bust may be a gentle downturn instead.

Smartcitiesdive.com, which highlighted elements of the PWC/Urban Land Institute report, suggests the real estate industry has begun to take an interest in a new generation.

This is not to detract from the importance of millennials who, incidentally, are expected to become more interested in purchasing a home in 2018 than in previous years. A new generation, “Gen Z,” is indicating an even stronger interest in becoming homeowners at an earlier age than their millennial counterparts. Born after 1995, Gen Zers are enthusiastic about fixer-uppers and do-it-yourself projects and may lead the way in gentrifying distressed urban neighbourhoods.

The Internet of Things is changing everything, so why not real estate? Smart home automation is driving the industry to incorporate the latest tech in new home builds and attract tech-savvy buyers by focusing on tech amenities in listings. The PWC/Urban Land Institute report suggests the industry has been lagging behind, technologically speaking, so 2018 may well be the year of the high-tech home.

Little is known yet about the economic and political factors affecting the industry across Canada. Continued government intervention in selected markets, such as Vancouver and Toronto, remains a question mark as does the movement of interest rates. The Canadian economy appears stable, and ultimately it may be that stability that will impact real estate at the seller and buyer level. Continued concerns about affordability and household debt will remain issues to contend with in 2018.

Millennials Seek New Housing Opportunities

Canada’s millennials are transforming the housing landscape in their search for new kinds of homes.

And they pack a big punch financially. According to a report by CBC News, more than 50% of 25 to 35-year-old Canadians own a home, compared to 36% of U.S. millennials. The research, from TD Economics, says that Canadian millennials have less student debt, better jobs and higher incomes than their U.S. peers. What do millennials want it comes to housing? The answer is: Pretty much everything. And a U.S. innovation called an “Urby” may suit the bill.

The Urby is a mixed-use residential development that brings a little bit of city, a little bit of community and a little bit of entertainment to a little apartment. Emphasizing “New Urbanist” principles such as walkable neighbourhoods and access to public transportation, Urby developments are designed for urban professionals.

Key to Urby projects such as the Urban Ready Life (URL) complex in Staten Island, N.Y. is providing opportunities for social interaction. URL common areas offer chances for interpersonal connections between residents by including lobby coffee shops, communal kitchens and a cultural director. Sounds ideal for this work-hard, play-hard generation, and Canadian developers are watching the progress of projects such as Urbys, the tiny house movement and co-op housing developments.

So far, however, they’re just watching: Notes Steve Jackson, program manager for the Cooperative Housing Association of Canada: “It’s unfortunate that there are no major programs to develop new co-op housing … We know that a lot of millennials do see co-op housing as a wonderful option.”

Redecorating Your Child’s Room? Start Here

Redecorating a child’s room is enjoyable. Figuring out creative ways to make your kids’ spaces whimsical yet functional is a fun design challenge. And watching their faces light up when it’s all done? Priceless.

Home design website Houzz conducted a survey of users who have “recently completed, are working on or are planning a home project with kids in mind.” The results provide an interesting look at what’s currently trending in the world of children’s rooms. If you’re about to embark on creating a special room for a child, keep the following in mind:

  • Close to 70% of respondents said their kids’ rooms have themes. The most popular looks, in order: nature, animals, sports, and princesses. But note: kids grow up quickly and tastes change just as quickly. Today’s trendy decor may look dated tomorrow.
  • Functionality and maintenance are top priorities. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they wanted a space that was easy to clean and maintain, and 64% said they needed a functional setup. Be sure to incorporate washable and durable materials, and include labeled storage boxes and bins.
  • Blue reigns supreme. Fifty-nine percent said blue is the dominant colour for kids’ rooms, followed by white, gray, green, and pink.
  • The cost of redecorating a kid’s room varies. Of respondents who had completed their project, one-third spent $1,000 or less. Establish a budget before starting; it’s easy to get carried away with cute decor and playful features. And unlike adults, kids don’t notice the difference between the more expensive option and a more affordable one.
  • Nearly 70% of participants cited clutter as a challenge. Make toy management a priority in your kids’ rooms. Oversized bins in fun colours and/or closet storage systems are key to keeping toys and “stuff” out of sight and out of mind.

Finally, involve your kids in the decisions. After all, it is their room.