Why inspect your home before you put it up for sale?

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: It could be very advantageous to know before hand what is it that the inspector will find regarding your house.

Home inspections have become commonplace in the Ontario real estate industry. In fact, many deals hinge on the completion of a home inspection report that is satisfactory to the buyer involved. Traditionally, the buyer has been responsible for paying for and arranging an inspection after the offer has been accepted. The seller agrees to facilitate access to the home for the inspector, the buyer and usually the buyer’s realtor during an agreed upon time frame before the deal becomes firm.

In recent years, however, some sellers have taken the reins and obtained a pre-listing home inspection before their home even hits the market. There are a number of reasons why a pre-listing home inspection can benefit sellers.

Be the first to find out about any problems. Obtaining an inspection before listing a home puts the seller in the driver’s seat when it comes to necessary fixes, whether major or minor. Some buyers will get hung up on small repairs, especially if a few start piling up during a home inspection.

  1. By having a pre-listing inspection done, the seller can repair leaky faucets, secure handrails on staircases, improve inadequate insulation, etc. before buyers begin viewing their home. And if there are major issues discovered, the seller can decide how to proceed, attaching any repair estimates or paid invoices to the inspection report.

    It encourages a firm deal. If a buyer can view a completed home inspection report before making their offer, they know exactly what they purchasing and will likely feel more comfortable forgoing a home inspection condition in the offer.
  2. Convenience. By obtaining a pre-listing home inspection, the seller is able to hire a reputable inspector (choose one who is a member of the OAHI – the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors) and schedule the appointment at their convenience.
  3. A pre-listing home inspection also benefits buyers. It will help them determine a fair offer price and decide if they are willing to repair any highlighted issues before making an offer. Buyers will also enjoy a savings of $350-$500 off their closing costs (the typical cost of an inspection).

by Jeffrey Brookfield

Source Article Garth Lyon Mortgage Lender 

Housing market may hit slow patch on back of interest rate hike, new mortgage rules

'This is the most significant test the market has seen in recent years,' said Benjamin Tal, CIBC's chief deputy chief economist

Canadian Press January 16, 2018

Canada’s real estate market will hit a slow patch in 2018 as tighter mortgage stress tests apply pressure and the impact could be exacerbated if an expected interest rate hike drives buyers to put off their home purchases, economists said Monday.

The Bank of Canada will make its first interest rate announcement of the year on Wednesday. Many observers predict will boost the country’s benchmark rate by 25 points to 1.25 per cent after the economy’s strong performance last year and a particularly strong jobs report from November. If the economy keeps pace, they believe that rate may be bumped up a few more times over 2018.

The suspected hikes could heap stress onto buyers already combating stricter regulations that were introduced by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions on Jan. 1 for uninsured mortgages, and elevated five-year, fixed mortgage rates that were pushed up by the CIBC, RBC and TD banks last week.

“This is the most significant test the market has seen in recent years,” said Benjamin Tal, CIBC’s chief deputy chief economist.

He expects a market slowdown to be seen as early as the first quarter as people who were hoping to scoop up homes weigh whether renting or living with family for a bit longer will pay off later in the year, when the country has grown accustomed to the new conditions.

“The big question though is to what extent investors will stop buying,” says Tal. “That will carry a big effect, but it’s still the biggest unknown.”

The Canadian Real Estate Association slashed its sales forecast for 2018 to predict a 5.3 per cent drop in national sales to 486,600 units this year, shaving about 8,500 units from its previous estimate due to the impact of the stricter mortgage stress tests.

On Monday, the association released a report revealing that national home sales rose 4.5 per cent in December from the month before and that the average national home price reached just over $496,500, up 5.7 per cent from one year earlier.

It said the bounce likely stemmed from buyers scrambling to nab homes before being forced to submit to the uninsured mortgage regulations, which requires would-be homebuyers with a more than 20 per cent down payment to prove they can still service their uninsured mortgage at a qualifying rate of the greater of the contractual mortgage rate plus two percentage points or the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada.

“It will be interesting to see if the monthly sales activity continues to rise despite tighter mortgage regulations,” Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, said in the report.

It also shared that the number of homes on the market increased by 3.3 per cent in December from the month before and December home sales were up 4.1 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

The improvements signal that the country is “fully recovering from the slump last summer” when there was a drop in sales before a set of policies introduced by the Ontario government in April produced the desired market slowdown in Toronto during the second and third quarters following a hot first quarter.

“The new OFSI measures and a shift to a rising-state environment should prevent speculative froth from building again, and contain price growth to a reasonable pace for the remainder of the cycle,” BMO Capital Markets senior economist Robert Kavcic predicted in a note Monday.

Looking across the country, he said Toronto home sales were in “a strong spot,” Calgary’s “remained steady” and Ottawa and Montreal were “continually showing better momentum.”

CREA said in December it had seen 60 per cent of all local markets surge in activity.

That spike came as no surprise to Toronto-based realtor David Fleming.

While agents typically avoid keeping listings up over the holidays, he saw many bucking their usual habit this year by leaving homes on the market because sales were so strong.

Of the three listings he let sit, one sold on Dec. 31 and another on Jan. 2.

“There are definitely people who thought they had to close a deal before Jan. 1. and the numbers are really showing that,” Fleming said.

“I think it will take a couple months for buyers to wrap their heads around the new rules and for the country to see the affect.”

Source Article

Bed in a Box Showdown: Caspar Vs Endy

The new bed in a box is a wonderful idea.

I purchased my Endy mattress in mid November of 2017 and I am so pleased with it.  I did much research and deliberation on which one to buy.  A mattress is a purchase that we don't make often enough.

My friends talked about buying a new mattress from a big mattress store. After laying down on many floor model mattresses that have already been tried by thousands of people they chose a mattress based on the firmness.  When they received their new mattress, it took them 3 years to get it to match the store model. 

After hearing this story, I was shy of going to a big box store to purchase a mattress. When I started my research, there were many to choose from, Caspar, Endy, Silk & Satin, Luna (by the now defunct Sears) and Wayfair.  The prices ranged from $600 - $3000.

What sold me on the Endy was:
1. It was made in Canada (Caspar is made in the US.
2. They claimed they used the foam that would not change with hot or cold temperatures and the bed won't sleep hot, perfect for Canadian winters and summers and
3. It was featured on Dragons Den.
4. It has a 100-day warrantee, so I could try it and if I did not like it I could send it back (no it will not fit back in the box) and they will pick it up.

I found that the purchase was easy, shipping was by courier to my door, it was easy to unpack, there were instructions but be careful with the tool provided or you could rip the cover and I could have slept on it right away.  There was no smell and all my sheets fit perfectly.  There is no need for a box spring for this mattress.  I took my existing bed frame that was made for a box spring and installed a platform on it. The mattress fit perfectly.

Frankly this is the best bed mattress I have ever had. Soft enough that is has give for my hip but firm enough to support my back. I also found it has eased the problems I have from a recent shoulder injury. And just like the "bowling ball bed" when my partner moves he does not disturb me.

So, if you are looking for a new mattress for your bed or for your spare room this is an affordable comfortable solution.

Check out the review from Chatelaine Magazine this month:

Casper Vs. Endy: Which Mattress Is Better? We Put Them To The Test

A thorough, slept-on-it-for-weeks review of the two ultra-popular mattresses-in-a-box.

The Internet has changed the way we shop for just about everything, and that includes mattresses. No longer do we have to go to a mattress store, awkwardly lie for 30 seconds on a confusing range of options, and then lug one home. The direct-to-consumer mattress-in-a-box means that with a click of a button, a small package with a compressed mattress inside will quickly arrive at your doorstep.

While everyone from Sealy to Costco is getting in on the game and launching their own mattresses-in-a-box, the two most prominent names in Canada are the U.S.-based Casper and Endy, a Canadian company that offers mattresses manufactured here.

Both share a few key promises: a better sleep (case in point: Casper dubs itself “The Best Bed for Better Sleep”), affordability (all of Endy’s mattresses are under $1,000), convenience and customer satisfaction (both offer at-home trials for up to 100 days — if you’re not satisfied, you’ll get a full refund).

And it seems that the companies have won over consumers. Casper sold US$200 million worth of its products in its third year of business and, last fall, Endy said it had sold its 25,000th mattress.

I tried both companies’ mattresses, from delivery to unboxing to sleep. (Note: Each company provided a free mattress for my review.) Here’s what I thought:


Casper offers three different styles of mattress, all made in the United States. It also sells bed frames, sheets and pillows. We tried The Casper, its most popular model.

The mattress:
It’s made of memory foam, which the company says is breathable to help keep you cool while you sleep. It also has a bottom layer of support foam, which Casper vows offers support and long-lasting durability. Plus, the outer shell easily unzips so you can wash it. The mattress comes with a 10-year warranty.

$1,175 for a queen

It arrives at your door in a small box that’s easy to carry upstairs because of the handles on each side. It’s small and light enough that you could probably lift it solo (but ideally you’d have someone to help). And you don’t have to wait around for your mattress to be delivered — there’s an option for the courier to leave it at your door, even if you’re not home.

As a boxed-mattress newbie, I was so impressed by the amount of time it took to get the mattress out of the box and ready to sleep on — from door to bed, the whole process took just ten minutes. I was under the impression that you had to wait hours for it to inflate, but as soon as the plastic came off, it popped up in about three seconds and was ready to sleep on. It was also super light to lift up on to the bed. I also expected the mattress to smell funny — but there were absolutely no fumes or weird, plastic-y odours.

The best part? The ridiculously easy-to-follow illustrations that came in the box.

The box is a little taller than the Casper and doesn’t have handles, which made it more difficult to carry up stairs. It’s definitely a two person job. You don’t have to wait around for your mattress to be delivered — there’s an option for the courier to leave it at your door even if you’re not home.

The mattress was also heavier to unpack, but once it was unboxed and expanded, it felt really light, making it easy to put on my bed. The set-up time was exactly the same as the Casper — in other words, quick — and there was absolutely no odour when I unboxed it. It didn’t come with instructions, but everything was pretty intuitive.


Unlike Casper, Canadian-made brand Endy sells just one mattress model that’s designed “for all.” (They also sell pillows and sheets.)

The mattress:
It’s made from three layers of foam (the top one has a gel-infused layer that helps control temperature), which the company says has just the right amount of sink. As with Casper, the cover is removable and machine-washable, and there is a 10-year warranty.

$850 for a queen

The box is a little taller than the Casper and doesn’t have handles, which made it more difficult to carry up stairs. It’s definitely a two person job. You don’t have to wait around for your mattress to be delivered — there’s an option for the courier to leave it at your door even if you’re not home.

The mattress was also heavier to unpack, but once it was unboxed and expanded, it felt really light, making it easy to put on my bed. The set-up time was exactly the same as the Casper — in other words, quick — and there was absolutely no odour when I unboxed it. It didn’t come with instructions, but everything was pretty intuitive.

Sleep experience:
Endy boasts “perfect firmness,” which I found entirely accurate. I’d describe it as firm, but with a little give. I love that it sinks just the right amount when I lie down. I found it didn’t control the temperature as much as the Casper did, though that wasn’t a make or break for me.

Final verdict
For me, the better sleep experience was definitely the Endy. It’s the one I’ve chosen to keep in my bedroom — the Casper is in our spare room. I liked its firm support, mixed with a little give. The Casper is definitely the mattress for someone looking for something incredibly firm, with little sink.

Check out the Endy pitch on Dragons Den 

Intro by Sondy Szymanis, Article by Alexandra Gater

Source Article 

Walk like a Penguin so you don't slip on the Ice

It has been a crazy winter this year and with last nights freezing rain many people woke up to shear ice.  As they stepped outside their doors to walk to work it was a quick turn around to get their traction devices on their feet.  And though we Canadians like to brag we can handle any weather thrown at us, it seems there's one thing that can thwart even the hardiest of souls: ice.

Thanks to fluctuating temperatures and excretions from the sky, ice is all over the streets and sidewalks, often in places where people can't even see it. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2011-12, more than 7,000 people went to the hospital after falling on ice — and that was during a relatively mild winter.

Injuries from falling on ice can include anything from back pain to concussions, and are particularly serious for those over 50, whose bones are often more brittle and susceptible to breakage. We've amassed some tips from the wisdom of the Internet to give you a hand in getting through this ice safely. Have some solutions of your own? We'd love to hear them.


This graphic, posted on Reddit with the words, "Avoid slipping on ice by walking like a penguin!" speaks volumes. It was created by artist Curtis Whaley from Tablet Infographics:

Best Foot Forward

Wear the right shoes, which means shoes with large treads or raised patterns. If you want to be extra cautious, consider getting some traction devices, like these Yaktrax Pro options (available for around $16 at various outdoor retailers). The steel coils on the bottom give some grip with ice and allow for better balance.

Give A Pinch

And if you're really, really worried, there's always the option of carrying your own salt with you. Salt melts ice by lowering the freezing point of water, according to Chemistry.com, and so though it may weigh you down, you can pull an Arctic Hansel and Gretel to get through the ice.

Listed just before Christmas

1818 Mountain Avenue, Canmore #406

Top Floor Tourist Home Zoned Canmore Mountain Condo

Check out the unobstructed southwest facing Rocky Mountain views from this top floor apartment. With tourist home zoning, experience luxury in this 1 bed, 1 bath condo.

Full-time residency is permitted. The modern design package includes granite topped kitchen island, slate tile and plush carpets. There is convenient in-unit laundry and the apartment is wired with ceiling speakers and volume controls in each room.

Stainless appliances round out the modern look. Experience the Zen Spa and Wild Orchid Sushi Restaurant on site. There is ample parking in the heated underground garage, and secure storage is provided. Enjoy two hot tubs under the stars after a good day biking or skiing.

This condo comes fully furnished and ready to use. Live in it full time, rent it monthly to a tenant, or rent it out nightly through the on-site vacation management company.

 Cash purchases due to zoning. Subject to GST


Contact Us for more information or view the listing on our website. 

How to Handle Going Back to Work After the Holidays

What are the odds that you'll wake up every morning this week, open one eye and think: ‘Why on earth is my alarm going off in the middle of the night?’

Then: reality will strike. Christmas is over. The new year has dawned. No more duvet days in your pyjamas, watching TV and browsing the sales online.

You actually have to work.

It’s enough to strike terror into even the most enthusiastic employee. Over the past few weeks, if you’re lucky, you’ve been in hibernation - living in a bubble, full to the brim with Celebrations and left-over feasts. You’re in so deep that there’s practically a fortress of food surrounding you.

So now what? How do you break down this self-imposed wall and return to reality? Especially when you feel like you’ve just rediscovered that Father Christmas doesn’t exist?

The first step is to embrace the blues. Because they’re not your fault. Researchers have found that the negative emotions associated with the end of the festive period, plus two weeks of irregular sleep patterns (not to mention irregular breakfast patterns) can throw our body-clocks out of synch and make us feel jet-lagged.

Returning to our normal routine of early nights and waking up in the dark can induce what’s been dubbed ‘social jet lag’. Symptoms might include: feeling sluggish, struggling to sleep, indigestion, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, clumsiness, lack of energy and general fatigue.

(Of course, one way to negate these side-effects is to stick, as far as possible, to your normal waking hours over Christmas and New Year. But that ship has probably sailed). 

The main thing to remember is that you will display some strengths and some weaknesses during your first days back at work. Start gently, by all means – unless you’re the kind of person who hits the ground running and is in the work gym by 6am on day one - but don’t use the period post- festive break as an excuse to slack. It won’t look good.

Instead, acknowledge where your dwindling energy will be best channeled to get 2018 rolling.

Being honest with yourself is half the battle and will mean you don’t end up feeling frustrated, or letting others down.

Part of this is accepting that you will have devote a chunk of time to tackling your email inbox. A thankless but necessary task. If your entire office had a two week break, you might be lucky enough to be in the triple figures.

But for many, trawling through an inbox that looks more like a war zone than anything, can take the best part of a day. Plus, you’ll probably send more internal emails than usual to colleagues this week.  After all, no one wants to be accused of slacking.

Once you’ve shouldered this, it’s easier to prepare for the week ahead.

Mediacom CEO Karen Blackett told me she gets into the right frame of mind for the first days back after the festive period by: “Going through my schedule for the day ahead the night before and trying to go to sleep at a decent hour.

"Starting the day with a green juice, getting into the office an hour before normal and then blocking out an hour in my schedule during the day for emails and internal catch ups.

"I also drink lots of green tea and use an aromatherapy oil roll on my pressure points when I start to lag”.

Founder of networking organisation Cityparents Louisa Symington-Mills agrees that a little, gentle, preparation can take much of the pain out of going back to work in those first few days.

“Be organised the night before – choose your clothes for the next day, find your train pass and work security pass, step away from the wine and cheese and go to bed early,” she explains. 

“Try to arrive at your desk in the morning with all the positive mental attitude you can muster. Don’t grumble about the end of the holidays, or get overly caught up in your colleagues’ stories of insane parties or hilarious new year’s resolutions; focus on the year and opportunities ahead, and remind yourself why you enjoy your job (and if you really can’t remember, perhaps now’s the time to look for another).”

Whether you look for a new role, or take up a hobby – it’s a good idea to think about something new as you head back to the office. You’ve just had a glimpse into a world where work wasn't the be all and end all. Try to capitalise on this objectivity.  Burying your head in the sand won't bring Christmas back.

Green & Blacks founder Josephine Fairley sets herself a new goal each year.  She recommends starting small:

“I certainly think stretching yourself mentally is vital, if we are to keep feeling alive and alert. But personal goals don’t have to be overly ambitious. The key is to be realistic. The sense of failure can be a downer, diminishing rather than enhancing your sense of self-worth.

"Push yourself just that bit further than you think you can possibly be stretched, but don't look to a goal to 'reinvent' yourself, necessarily - because just like massive crash-diet weight loss programmes, they can be doomed to failure and recidivism.”

What’s more, our creative juices flow more after returning to work, when our brains have been in a state of relaxation – unhampered by rules, regulations and office politics.

That’s something to take advantage of, whether you throw yourself into brainstorms, present a new idea to your boss or channel it into something extra-curricular that will boost your overall productivity.

And finally, remember that everyone is in the same boat. Some people even went back to work earlier than you. Only Father Christmas can get away without making a to-do list until next December rolls around.