Property Appeal: What Makes a Home Safe?

Location. Layout. Landscaping. A host of home features affect a property’s appeal. One quality that tops many “must-have” lists is safety. What should buyers look for if they want a home that offers the best safety possible for themselves and their families?

Several features can improve the safety of a home to make it more desirable. As a bonus, these devices can also reduce the cost to insure a home. If you want to modernize your home with innovative safety measures or are looking for a new home with the latest safety features, consider these list toppers.

Smart Devices

The internet of things has taken home security and convenience to a new level. Homeowners are empowered with a host of tools and systems to keep their homes safe. In fact, technology has become so prevalent that few items aren’t equipped with smart features. Appliances offer improved safety and efficiency. Garage doors offer additional security. High-tech lawn systems prevent overwatering and flooding. A few devices are particularly desirable for homeowners interested in boosting the safety of their surroundings. These include:

Water alerts: Did you know one of the most common homeowners insurance claims is water damage? Smart leak-detection sensors can now prevent these calamities. They alert homeowners of leaks so they can take immediate action to prevent damage.

Fire detection: What happens if no one is home to hear the smoke detector? A smart fire detector will alert a homeowner via a Wi-Fi-connected device anywhere in the world. This can improve emergency response times and minimize damage.

Burglar deterrents: Smart technology has enhanced security on many fronts. Homeowners can deter thieves with timed lighting, access smart door locks to maintain tighter security, and monitor video surveillance from anywhere.

Wondering what features make the most sense for your market? Contact our office. We can review current trends and determine what safety features to look for in your next home.

Top Design Trends for Today’s Homes

Wondering what’s hot and what’s not for interior design? Whether you’re hoping to create a buyer-friendly look as you prep your home for sale or simply want to stay on trend, these finishes will help you keep your surroundings looking sharp.

On the walls: Neutral is still in, but cold whites are fading away. Designers are reducing their use of these cold tones in favour of softer whites. These trending paint colours help make modern spaces feel warmer and more welcoming.

In the kitchen: Designers are moving away from all-white kitchens to add splashes of colour. Deep blues, greys, and greens are growing in popularity for kitchen cabinet choices. All the cabinets don’t have to be the same colour, either. One hue may be chosen for top cabinetry and accented with another shade for bottom cabinets. Contrasting metals in the hardware and fixtures complete the trend.

Off the presses: Recent enhancements to printing processes and modern materials have increased the quality of faux finishes. This emerging technology is allowing homeowners and designers to achieve the look of stone and other high-end finishes for flooring at a fraction of the cost and with easier installation. Choices such as marble and concrete will likely see a downturn as they are replaced by faux options.

From the outdoors: Homeowners are looking to connect with nature in their décor. Wood finishes are a top solution. Wood offers beauty and flexibility to apply to a variety of surroundings and suits a broad range of tastes. Designers can also incorporate this material to create a lighter and airier space, which is what many clients are seeking.

For the future: Builders and buyers are more environmentally aware than ever before. Current trends include eco-friendly materials and processes that reduce a home’s carbon footprint. Contractors and homeowners are striving to make sustainable choices that have a positive long-term impact on the environment.

What do you think about these trends? Have your design preferences changed over time? If you’re looking for any of these in a new home or thinking of making changes to your home, let me know how I can help.

Moving? Avoid These Major Mistakes

You might say that moving involves a lot of … moving parts. It can be difficult to coordinate all the aspects of pulling up stakes and putting down roots in a new place. Considering these challenges, it’s no surprise mistakes are made. From minor inconveniences to major disasters, moving blunders make the entire process even harder. Here are some of the most common missteps to avoid during your next move.

Making it a DIY project: Many moves can be handled by the homeowner, but not all. Be honest with yourself (and your friends). Do you really have the strength, time, and skill to pack, load, unload, and unpack all of your belongings? Consider any fragile or valuable items. Keep in mind any oversized belongings. Movers come with a cost, but so does trying to handle a project beyond your capabilities. Personal injury and property damage often end up costing more than movers would have.

Allotting the wrong amount of time: How long will it take you to pack? Many people under- or overestimate this time period. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you will be rushed and stressed when moving day arrives and you’re not ready. If you start too early, you may have to unpack and repack things that you need before moving day. A good rule of thumb is to count the number of bedrooms in your home, then add one. This is the number of days it should take you to pack. If you have a lot of items that will require careful wrapping and storage, add another day.

Skipping the purge: Moving is the ideal time to get rid of things you no longer need. As you pack, make three piles: trash, donate, and keep. This requires a little effort and organization, but the process will make your move more efficient and will save you time, money, and hassles in the long run.

Forgetting to call a real estate agent: When it’s time to move, a real estate agent is one of your most valuable resources. This professional can sell your current home, find your new dream home, and walk you through the entire process. Agents have been through all this before and can provide resources and advice as you transition from one home to another. Don’t miss their input!

Why Is ‘For Sale by Owner’ Such a Bad Idea?

When it’s time to sell your home, you may wonder which route to take: partner with a real estate agent or go it alone with FSBO. Which will deliver better results? Here are three reasons you should avoid the FSBO path.

The paperwork is daunting: Buyer offers. Real estate contracts. Lender forms. Inspection reports. Closing documents. Not every homeowner is prepared for the piles of paperwork involved in a real estate transaction. Details and deadlines can easily be missed. Bad deals can be made. A real estate agent is familiar with all the documentation involved, will walk the seller through the process, and will handle much of the paperwork required.

The process is challenging: Buyers want to see your home when it’s convenient for them. Without an agent to show your home, it’s up to you to make all arrangements for showings. This includes getting your home ready for the market. What work should be done? What’s worth the investment of time and money? An agent could answer these questions for you. If you don’t have one, you’re on your own to prep your home, show it to buyers, negotiate offers, and get the deal to closing.

The cost is more than you think: A common reason for choosing FSBO is to try to save money. FSBO isn’t as cheap as you might think. You’ll have to cover all marketing costs, and you’ll have to devote your personal time to these efforts. And it might take longer to sell due to the limited exposure you can get without an agent marketing the home. To top it off, FSBO homes typically sell for less than homes listed by real estate agents. The net result: zero savings.

Downsizing Prep: Common Heirloom Errors

The kids have all moved out. As you approach retirement, you know downsizing is in your future. It’s time to start considering what that will entail.

Realistically, you won’t have room in your new home for everything that has accumulated over the past two or three decades. Don’t make the same mistakes many downsizers do by holding on to items that should be purged.

Before it’s time to move, take stock of what is in your home. Have you kept anything for your kids that they really don’t want? Have an open conversation with your children to determine whether what you consider a precious family heirloom would simply be clutter in your child’s home.

Put the following items at the top of the list to discuss. These are three of the most common things parents keep that their kids would prefer never to inherit.

Books: Even if your children love to read, it’s likely they don’t want your old books (and they probably have their own growing collection they will have to purge some day).

If you suspect any of your books are valuable, do a search online or contact a book antiquarian. Otherwise, consider donating the books to a library or used book store.

Fine dinnerware: Has your child ever used a cup and saucer for morning coffee? Would he or she use silver flatware? For that matter, have you used any of these dishes in the past year?

Children and grandchildren typically don’t want to store multiple place settings of porcelain dishes. Go ahead and sell them to the consignment shop or to a company that offers replacement pieces for consumers seeking specific patterns.

Paper piles: Do you have shoeboxes of greeting cards, letters, and photos stashed under your bed? Piles of paper are overwhelming and nearly impossible for others to sort through.

Before downsizing, go through these papers and say goodbye. Read through cards once more; then recycle them. Scan photos to create digital files, or frame your favourites to pass along. Then get rid of the rest.

Moving? Make Yourself at Home Anywhere

Moving to a new home, a new city, or a new country can be exciting, but it can also be challenging. In the midst of unfamiliar surroundings, newcomers may find it difficult to get plugged in to the area. Fortunately, there are a few tried and true steps you can take to help yourself feel at home after a move. Try these tips.

Tap your hobbies. Look for local communities built around something you enjoy. Are you a runner? Seek out a running club. Do you love making crafts? There’s probably a local crafting group. From stamp collecting to scuba diving, your favourite hobby can help you connect with like-minded individuals and form connections in your new locale.

Use an app. If you know about a move in advance, you can use social media and other apps to find out about the people and places near your new home. Look for restaurants you might want to try, parks you’d like to visit, and unique shops you might enjoy. Get recommendations from locals. Armed with online research, you may feel like you already know your new home far before moving day arrives.

Find current connections. Are you a member of any organizations? Use alumni associations, professional affiliations, or service groups to help you connect. As with hobby groups, other members of these societies are potential sources of information, referrals, and friendship.

Say yes. One of the fastest ways to get plugged in to your new neighbourhood is to make a habit of saying yes. If you get invited to do something, don’t turn down the invitation. If you’ve never tried salsa dancing before, don’t say no because it’s outside your comfort zone. Be willing to try new things. Look for unique opportunities and seize them. You might be surprised at how many new enjoyable activities, people, and places you discover!

Ask your agent. As experts in their local markets, real estate agents are another great source of information. For the inside scoop on transportation, events, and other helpful tips, make use of this valuable resource.

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.

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.

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.

Wait and Save: We Still Believe in Homeownership

Do you dream of owning a home someday? If so, you’re not alone. The desire to put down roots and invest in a home is a common one.

And this dream is still strong across North America. The problem is, many can’t afford it.

To many, the dream seems elusive as a result of the significant cost not just of purchasing a home but also in carrying it. Many who would like to and can pursue the dream never will due to fears associated with the lack of affordability (“Will I be in over my head?” “Will I lose money?”).

Affordability is a concern

According to the RBC 2017 Home Ownership Poll, 80% of Canadians believe homeownership is a good investment.

However, only 25% plan to purchase a home this year. Why the discrepancy? Considering the average Canadian home price has climbed over the $500,000 mark, it’s understandable why many won’t find home-buying affordable just yet. And “yet” is the key word. For many, their plans to own a home someday have not changed. They’re simply delayed. For example, nearly 40% of Canadian millennials plan to buy a home in the next two years.

As some Canadians put their home-buying plans on hold, they cite three main reasons for the delay. More than half of those participating in the RBC poll believe that housing prices may come down. Others are uncertain about the state of the economy and also express concern that carrying costs continue to increase.

How are they dealing with it? As RBC vice president Nicole Wells suggests: “For many Canadians, buying a home is a financial and personal milestone – often the biggest investment one will make.

“In today’s market, the best advice is to start with understanding exactly how much you can afford, and focus on your wants and needs ahead of starting the house hunt. … Knowledge and education are key.”

Family Living in the Sky: North America’s Newest Reality

As land available for new construction shrinks in urban centers across North America, governments, builders, and families are looking upward. Living high in the sky isn’t how many young families would have envisioned the family home, but for many, it’s a reality.

This new reality is playing out in Toronto, Ontario, where family-sized condo units are rare. Some 80% of new housing built in the past decade are buildings of five or more stories. Yet fewer than 10% of high-rise homes in the city have three or more bedrooms. And this is presenting a problem for young families who want to live and work there.

According to a recent story in Citylab.com, Toronto is on its way. Guidelines generated in a 2015 study by the city’s Planning Division were adopted this summer by its City Council and will be used in evaluating current and future projects. The guidelines, points out CityLab contributing writer Mimi Kirk, “are not only applicable to Toronto, but to cities across North America and beyond …”

Among the recommendations: 15% of units should include two bedrooms and 10% should include three, with these larger units located on lower levels, close to each other, and adjoining outdoor spaces.

Meanwhile, in New York City, where raising kids in high-rises is nothing new (but not particularly family-friendly), some existing buildings are currently updating and repurposing their amenities, thanks to the growing number of New Yorkers choosing to raise their families in the city.

Maybe life in the sky isn’t such a hardship after all.