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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Men and women are different homebuyers too

It is a well known fact that men and women tend to have different approaches to many situations, and purchasing a home is apparently one of those situations. While purchasing a home had been traditionally a male domain in decades past, women have emerged on the home buying scene, with expressed housing needs and tastes.  Also, statistics show that over the last decade, the face of the homebuyer has shifted somewhat, with many more single women opting to jump into the homeownership pool, rather than waiting to be part of a couple. According to a Royal Lepage survey, upwards of 30% of single women own their own home.


Keeping in mind that men and women may approach a property differently, there are certain things that a REALTOR® must consider when assisting a buyer to select a property, according to Sundaybell, an online company specializing in matching homebuyers and sellers with their ideal agent.

Although men and women tend to look for different things when buying a home, there is also much they have in common. And that's where the value of working with a real estate professional comes in. "A good REALTOR® will take both parties' concerns and preferences into account, and find a compromise solution that addresses everyone's wants and needs," says Andrew Brest, VP Marketing of Sundaybell Inc. Lee Redwood, Sundaybell's VP Sales agrees. "A part of an agent's job is to sometimes act as a bridge between partners, helping them to understand the other's point of view."

Differences in preferences between men and women, and the presence of them in the marketplace has caused some to take notice; Coldwell Banker did a survey to explore fully what these home buying differences were, and if Realtors should be tailoring their marketing and support efforts.

Some key differences that the survey revealed were that women tended to make decisions more quickly.  70% of women knew straightaway upon viewing a home that it was the one for them, whereas only 62% of men felt that sure, that quickly. Men apparently needed a little more “tire kicking”, and required more return visits than their female counterparts to finalize a decision.
It terms of location being an important factor, only 37% of men felt that location was one of the most important things when buying a home, compared to 55% of women respondents. In the matter of security, men and women found some common ground, both valuing it as important.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Caution in the wind for 2012 mortgage forecast


 A new year invariably brings thoughts of change, predictions for the future and forecasts of good or bad or something in between.When it comes to the Canadian mortgage industry, experts point to a vulnerable global marketplace as a backdrop for the tepid economic predictions being issued by Canadian economists.
As a result, experts are calling for what might be described as a cautiously optimistic outlook for 2012 with the emphasis on cautiously. Expect a number of challenges.
Toronto mortgage agent David Larock thinks 2012 will be marked by less borrowing overall. “I think 2012 will be a tough year for economies everywhere, including Canada,” Larock says, “and with our domestic mortgage rates already at record low levels, there is little scope for further reductions in borrowing costs to stimulate our real estate markets the way they have over the past several years.” Larock believes that will naturally work to slow borrowing and, if that doesn’t occur, he suspects another round of mortgage rule changes as federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tries to rein in overall consumer debt levels.
In March, Flaherty effectively removed marginal borrowers from the market by reducing the maximum amortization on a mortgage from 35 years to 30 years, reducing refinancing of mortgages from 90% to 85%, and withdrawing government backing from HELOC’s. However, the impact on the market was quite negligible.
Leslie Penney, a St. John’s mortgage broker, suspects the government will crack down on mortgages once again next year. He thinks that because lately he’s noticed that insurers are scrutinizing and requiring more documentation on many deals that wouldn’t have been requested previously. Regardless, Penney believes if the government is truly concerned about household debt it should consider enforcing tighter guidelines with respect to credit cards and lines of credit, which are just too easy to obtain and may get out of control.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this should be the area to focus on to reduce consumer’s vulnerability to increased debt and subsequent economic changes,” says Penney.
While Flaherty’s mortgage changes did not bode well especially for first-time buyers, Calgary mortgage broker Tyler Tost expects low interest rates will save the day come 2012. He believes rates will stay low in order to stimulate the economy and the housing market, which he expects will continue to grow throughout next year. “When money is this cheap that’s obviously when people get their foot in the door,” says Tost. “They realize it may not get any better than this.” He’s even heard rumblings that interest rates could continue downward. “There’s talk that fixed rates could drop lower yet,” says Tost. “I don’t know how much lower they could go, but there’s indicators that there’s room in the bond market that rates could drop further.”
Penney, however, doubts rates will fall further especially during the early part of the year. “Again, there’s just so much volatility, and with Europe on the brink of a recession, it will certainly delay any rate hikes in the short term,” he says.
“Europe faced tough choices. But as so many economists have predicted, 2012 will start slow; however, we’ll have to hang tight to see what will transpire later in the year.  With some economists predicting a drop in Canadian housing prices of 5 to 10 %, appraisals will likely become more contentious, says Larock. He points out that appraised values tend to agree with market values in a real estate market that’s rising, but in one that’s dropping values come in lower than market values and therein lies the problem. “This will be an issue for purchasers with small down payments who are hard pressed to come up with more money, and for refinancing borrowers who are looking to pull equity out of their homes,” he says. “Also, I expect to see fewer ‘drive-by’ or casual appraisals and more full appraisals, which are more expensive and which borrowers are often required to pay for.”
For that growing segment of self-employed Canadians (approximately 16 % in 2010, according to Statistics Canada), borrowing money in 2012 will be more difficult, says Kristian Harris, a mortgage broker with MonsterMortgage.ca. Traditional lending institutions loosened their lending rules about a decade ago, says Harris, which was good news for the approximately 2.7 million Canadians who are self-employed. But with OSFI cracking down recently expect banks and traditional credit unions to pull in the reins. The problem for this segment of the population is that they whittle down their incomes in an effort to pay less in income tax, but that bodes poorly for them when it’s time to get a loan. “It’s going to make it tougher for these people to get mortgages,” says Harris. “Of course, there will always be a lender will to loan them money, but they’ll have to pay higher rates.”
Larock believes it will be game on between banks and non-bank lenders as competition heats up between the two thanks to expanded staffing, product offerings and improved contract terms that make their contract terms and conditions more competitive. The banks have the brand recognition and huge advertising budgets, says Larock, but rely on a lot of inexperienced advisors, while non-banks generally have better offerings and more experienced planners in their corner, but they spend almost nothing on advertising.
But Penney believes this extra competition could actually be good for business for both sides. “This may be good for two reasons. Once, they believe that the mortgage business has a positive outlook and should experience growth and they want to ensure they get their share, and two, the more that come into the business on the bank side may end up increasing our presence as well. If the banks didn’t believe we were getting some of their business they wouldn’t increase their presence.”
Larock also believes mortgage professionals need to pay closer attention to smarter, technology-savvy consumers, who can learn and acquire knowledge online as opposed to putting their faith in a mortgage professional.  “The mortgage experts who embrace this trend and help to educate clients during their decision making process will thrive,” he says, “and those who don’t or can’t will find it tough sledding.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Holiday Wish......


Check out: http://www.yourlocaljournal.ca/pdf/issue.pdf
Page 22.
Paul and Diane Laflamme
Royal LePage Village
514.793.4514



http://www.wimp.com/wonderfulworld/

Yesterday, my friend, Louise from from Charlottetown, P.E.I. sent me this link. I do receive many beautiful videos from friends, however this one really stands out. At this time of the year, we take time to reflect upon all the things we are grateful for.
Have a great day! 
http://www.wimp.com/wonderfulworld/

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

www.stlazarehomesforsale.com

Paul and Diane Laflamme
Royal LePage Village
450.458.5365
514.793.4514
www.stlazarehomesforsale.com
www.paulanddiane.ca

Expect a fairly stable real estate market in 2012, says Pundits

Experts are calling for a bit of a mixed bag in Canadian real estate for 2012. Housing market prognosticators say next year will be marked by bursts of growth in certain hot regional markets throughout the country combined with a cooling trend in other areas, namely that of robust markets such as Toronto.
Look for mixed market signals in Canadian real estate as a market theme in 2012 as cities like Halifax and Edmonton and Calgary will begin to feel a marked increase in demand for real estate purchases, with average price increases beginning late in the year, according to says Vancouver real estate consultant Don Campbell. Toronto’s hot market will start to ease off next year, although its condo real estate market will remain stable.
“Sophisticated homeowners and investors will have to dig a little deeper, especially in 2012 and 2013, to find out how their region is performing because Canada is really going to be a tale of regions over the next few years,” says Campbell, a real estate investor and author. “Where one region is booming, the next may be underperforming.”
Expect price moderation in Toronto in the neighbourhood of five to 10 per cent, says Todd Hirsch, a senior economist with ATB Financial in Calgary. “There could be a little more worry of a small bubble (bursting) in Toronto,” says Hirsch, “because the Ontario economy in 2012 will likely cool off a bit, not tremendously, though. You won’t see a recession.”If you’re thinking the same for Vancouver, think again, advises Hirsch. Given that Vancouver is the destination of choice for Asian investors, prices there will remain far higher than what they are in Calgary and Toronto. This will likely continue into 2012, predicts Hirsch, who expects the Chinese economy will moderate next year although not enough to prevent its citizens from wanting to invest in Canada’s west coast real estate market.
But the markets in Toronto and especially Vancouver, which comprise approximately 40 per cent of Canadian real estate, should be eyed carefully by home buyers or investors. According to Campbell, time lines should run short at 12 to 18 months or long at five years or more as statistics show signs of market turmoil in the medium term (19 months to four years) as interest rates begin to edge up, inventory outstrips population demand. That’s when speculators will try to dump properties and market confidence will be lower. In Calgary and Edmonton expect stable prices, says Hirsch.
Saskatchewan is where you’ll find the best real estate deals in the country with the average house price in Saskatoon running at $320,000. That province also has the lowest unemployment figures in Canada with unemployment pegged at three per cent in Regina.
Halifax and St. John’s are stand alone in Atlantic Canada as those two cities experience an unrivalled economic boom right now. House prices in those cities could actually gain a little in 2012.
As for the rest of Atlantic Canada, notes Hirsch, much of it is a depressed economy in which its rural areas are being hollowed out as residents leave the countryside for jobs in urban areas.Quebec City’s economy is faring not too badly these days as its house prices are undervalued at about one third below the national average.
Still, growth in Quebec will be a bit sluggish in 2012 with no real strong real estate gains. While its economy will be sluggish, keep in mind the province’s housing prices are not as overvalued as in Toronto so you won’t see as much deflationary pressure as in Toronto. While the province is not looking at a recession in 2012, the year will be economically softer.
Strong real estate markets will be in Canadian regions where job growth continues, low unemployment rates continue to drop and where there’s a  migration of people with jobs (as opposed to retirees), says Campbell, who cites Halifax, Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge, Hamilton, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, St. John, Dawson Creek and Surrey as having the most stable markets.“Many Canadians will be fooled into thinking that their home value is either increasing or decreasing because of reports that are released discussing the ‘Average Price in Canada,’ “ he says, “producing either a false sense of confidence or a false sense of doom, depending on the report of the month.”

According to CREA, the national housing market is edging closer to being a seller’s market.“The Canadian housing market is proving resilient in the face of ongoing global economic and financial uncertainty, to the benefit of Canadian economic growth,” said Gary Morse, CREA’s president. “That said, some housing markets are picking up, while others are holding steady or consolidating.”
A quarterly economic forecast by TD Economics economist Francis Fong indicates that the low interest rate environment coupled with slowing jobs and income growth, especially in the first six months of 2012, will hold back resurgence in housing activity. Expect a slight pullback in homes sales and prices to the tune of one to two per cent. “Looking ahead, 2012 will likely be a much more subdued year for the housing market,” wrote Fong in her report released this week.

www.propertywire.ca

Sunday, December 18, 2011

APPLE STORE - CUSTOMER SERVICE AT ITS BEST


The staff at the Apple store in Fairview Shopping Center are amazing. If you want to see real customer service, this is it! The Apple employees are helpful and they know the Apple products inside and out. Today I watched the staff serve clients from all different age groups and backgrounds. Not only were they courteous but from their body language I could see they were listening, had eye contact, were smiling and were patient. The Apple employees love their products but most importantly, they like what they are doing.....helping people. Every time I am in that store, I "feel good". I like to be with people who make me feel good.
I ♥ Apple.
Yes, in 2012 - I'm buying a Mac.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 Food Safety Tips for the Holidays


Tis the season! The holidays are a wonderful time of goodwill, giving thanks, and gathering around warm fires with loved ones. The holiday season also includes festive celebrations centered around delicious food. Holiday parties are often times of inviting friends and family members to a buffet. Since buffets involve foods being left out for long periods of time, you may find a few unwanted guests showing up to your party--bacteria! A bacterium, which is an invisible enemy that can't always be seen, tasted or smelled, can multiply rapidly in warm, moist environments, including food surfaces. When you consume a food that is out of the "time-temperature safety zone," you expose yourself to harmful bacteria that can potentially cause food-borne illnesses. But there's no need to be a Grinch--you can enjoy the festivities of the holiday season while keeping yourself and your loved ones safe with some easy food safety tips.

Use Safe Food Handling Practices

The first step in preventing food-borne illnesses is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water before and after handling food. Also make sure to clean your kitchen surfaces, dishes, and utensils. Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and produce.

Cook Foods to the Proper Internal Temperature

You'll need a food thermometer to ensure that your foods reach the safe minimum internal temperatures.
  • All raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked to 145° F. Allow the meat to rest for about 3 minutes before you carve and serve it. These meats can certainly be cooked to a higher internal temperature if you prefer.
  • All raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal should be cooked to 160° F.
  • All poultry should be cooked to 165° F.
Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold

Hold hot foods at 140° F or warmer using chafing dishes, slow cookers, or warming trays. Hold cold foods at 40° F or colder by storing them in bowls of ice.

Use the Two-Hour Rule

Never allow foods to remain out on the buffet for longer than 2 hours. Monitor how long foods have been sitting out, and promptly refrigerate foods before they reach the two-hour mark. Discard any foods left out for 2 hours or more.

Be Egg-stra Safe around Eggs

You will eat a variety of foods during the holidays, many of which are made with eggs. Uncooked eggs can contain a dangerous bacterium called Salmonella enteritidis. You may be whipping up cookies, cakes, pies, and other tasty treats that include eggs in the recipes. The amazing aromas may entice you to lick the spoon or bowl, but avoid the temptation if the recipe contains raw eggs.

Following these simple food safety tips will ensure that you and your family remain safe during the holiday season. Bon appétit!




Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.

Monday, December 12, 2011

When is the best time of year to sell a house?


Is there such a thing as a best time of year to sell a house? Certainly, seasonal factors come into play when trying to sell a home, but there are other things to consider as well, like the tug and pull of supply and demand, as well as unique local market conditions.
No matter when a home goes on the market, one should take a few things under consideration that will likely affect not just the ability to sell a property, but more importantly the ability to get your asking price. Timing, it seems, is everything.
The Economy
While the economy does not follow the predictable ebb and flow of the seasonal changes in real estate and in buyer attention, the economy, it’s state and it’s prospects boil down to property values, and consumer confidence. When the economy is under fire, people are nervous about their jobs. There is generally a reluctance to spend, accumulate debt or make major purchases.
The market will tell you what a home is worth. The problem is, during an economic downturn, the market may value your home lower than you had hoped, or than from when you started.
That may succeed in removing a number of buyers from your pool. For those that must buy a property though, the economy will play less of a factor in the decision to purchase, but it may give them power at the bargaining table, and it may be more difficult to get the desired price. Interest rates figure into this as well. The lower they are, the more your pool of buyers may increase as well, as the cost to borrow comes down and people, in theory can borrow more.
Springtime
In a country like Canada, where there are four distinct seasons, seasonal influences play a large part in creating good selling conditions.
Wintertime brings with it a series of challenges, among them the weather, holiday distractions and lack of interest from buyers.
When the snow thaws though, and greenery re-emerges from the ground, buyers tend to re-emerge as well. The spring tends to be the peak of the market, simply because the timing suits people in general. The weather is more favourable, properties generally can be better displayed, and moves and property closings can more reasonably be managed through the summer months, so for those with families relocating is less disruptive.
According to data, home sales begin in February, with closings peaking through late May, June, July and August- and this has been a consistent trend since the early 2000’s. For sellers then, they will likely have the opportunity to engage more traffic and interest in their homes.
Patience is a Virtue
While the springtime may typically be a more optimal time to sell, there will typically be more competition on the market.  Sometimes, if a seller is flexible on their dates, it may be advisable to wait until the spring market to list, simply because of the flood of buyers onto the market. Often, a property will sell for more, and sell much faster because of volume.
As there will be more properties on the market, the seller really needs to take time to make their property stand out, using the slow winter months to actively prepare their homes to list.  For some, it can take weeks, or even months to de-clutter and re-organize their properties to best reflect the space, and the positive attributes.
Even though you may list in the spring, the selling process begins now- behind the scenes.  Think staging before selling.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Take your Winter Garden from Drab to Fab

Take your Winter Garden from Drab to Fab
A garden is our little piece of paradise, a place to appreciate nature in its changing seasons, and winter is no exception. With a little planning you can go outside and enjoy the fresh air and exhilaration of your garden right through the winter.
Create colour by incorporating some evergreens into your garden setting, including pine, fir and holly. Leave tall grasses or plants untrimmed as they’ll look sensational dusted with snow, especially red dogwood. Add more visual interest with bright bird houses, bird baths and statuary. Condo owners with balconies can create a mini garden: put winter kale and branches in a planter and surround with your favourite green boughs, which can last up to three months.
Sit outside on your garden furniture and soak up some sun out of the wind. By treating and protecting your wood or metal furniture it can be left outdoors so you have a front row seat to winter’s wonder. Take the chill off the air with an overhead patio heater, which will keep you warm and comfortable and also provide light for nighttime. If permitted in your municipality, a fire pit adds an extra glow, especially when you sit around it with your favourite people toasting marshmallows, or sipping cups of hot chocolate.
Winter lighting adds an extra dimension to your garden or balcony. Solar lights provide a soft glow to a snowy landscape, or simply wrap a small tree or bush with a string of white LED mini lights. Lights add an element of wonder to dark winter nights.
Too tired to go outside after a long day at work? A hot tub in your garden is a perfect place to unwind and wash your troubles away, or to soothe aching muscles after shoveling mountains of snow from the driveway. Picture yourself immersed in hot bubbling water as snowflakes fall around you.
Taking time to sit and relax is good for you, and the quiet serenity of a winter garden is perfect for reflection or meditating. Take your camera outside and capture the sights of a Canadian winter in all its wonder. Snow has a way of making everything look magical so don’t miss out on the special experience of being out and about in your own winter wonderland.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thank you to Royal LePage Village Owners/Managers!

The Royal LePage Village Christmas Party was held on Saturday, December 3rd at the Royal Montreal Golf Club in L'Ile-Bizard.
www.rmgc.org
There were Real Estate Brokers from 4 offices (DDO, Pointe-Claire, Hudson and Pointe-Claire). The night flew by...cocktails, dinner and dancing in a beautiful surrounding. The Owners/Managers of Royal LePage Village , Stuart Jones, Grant Staley, Greg Clarke and Jan Inglesman treated all Brokers to a fabulous evening. What a class act!
Two prizes were handed out.......one was a Sony Camera and the main prize was a IPad 2.  GREAT news... I WON IT!! I AM SO HAPPY!! 
Thank you Stuart, Grant, Greg and Jan. I can't wait to use my new iPad 2. I am confident it will help us manage and increase our business. Paul and I look forward to another successful year in real estate. 2011 was a good year for us and we are eager to continue working at full speed and full time in 2012. 
We have been working in real estate for over 10 years and we can offer you our experience which will exceed all your expectations. Regardless of how large a task (to buy or sell a home) we are eager to rise to the challenge to use our knowledge and tenacity to overcome all obstacles.
The majority of our business originates from repeat clients and referrals. It is our goal to satisfy the needs of all our clients and we dedicate many years to building lifetime relationships.  
If you have any real estate questions, call us. It will be our pleasure to help you. 

 
 

 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Canadians work hard to ditch their mortgages early

 Lines of credit, personal loans also levelling off

While mortgage repayments can be spread out over 30 years, the CMHC reports the average amortization period for mortgages insured by the national housing agency is under 25 years, and the loan-to-value ratio of those homes was 80 per cent or less. As of Sept. 30, the outstanding loan amount per household for all homeowner loans was $159,740, slightly above the figure for the previous year.

"CMHC analysis shows that a substantial percentage of CMHC-insured high ratio borrowers are ahead of their scheduled amortization," the agency said. "Accelerated payments shorten the overall amortization period, reduce interest costs, increase equity in the home at a faster rate and lower risk over time."
The agency's mortgage arrears rate is 0.42 per cent, in line with industry trends.
Rules brought in by the federal government in March, in response to historic levels of household debt, which reduced amortization periods on certain mortgages, and limited the amount that can be borrowed when a house is refinanced, cut refinancing activity by 31 per cent from last year, the CMHC said. The agency's homeowner purchase mortgage insurance program showed a year-overyear decrease of 12 per cent.
"The level of household debt remains a concern, but there are encouraging signals," it says. "There has been a significant deceleration in the growth of mortgage credit since March, particularly in recent months, impacting the growth rate of total household credit. Growth in personal loans, lines of credit and credit cards has levelled off in recent months."
The agency notes general economic conditions have been favourable in 2011, with stable mortgage rates, a healthy housing market and a declining unemployment rate.
"Overall arrears levels and arrears rates have been improving and (mortgage insurance) claims volumes have been lower than expected," it said. "Given current economic forecasts, it is expected that trends will improve moderately going forward, although both downside and upside risks remain."
While housing sales have slowed since January, the CMHC expects sales for the year to fall within a range of 423,600 to 470,100 units, and next year's sales to be somewhere between 406,100 and 509,000 units. Prices should "modestly grow as market conditions are expected to remain in the balanced market range," it said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thinking about selling or buying?


Paul & Diane  Laflamme


  • Paul and Diane are Real Estate Agents who have experience that exceeds all expectations. 
  • Regardless of how large the task, Paul and Diane will rise to the challenge to win the day by using their knowledge and tenacity to overcome all obstacles.
  • Paul and Diane live in Saint-Lazare therefore they are familiar with the surrounding areas.
  • Paul and Diane know the market. They have a wealth of knowledge about urban and rural living plus they are master negotiators.
  • Diane & Paul accredit their success to excellent full time service, commitment and a knowledgeable and personable approach to their  clients
  • Paul and Diane offer bilingual service.
  • Paul and Diane are consistent top producers. They are able to produce winning results for home buyers and sellers alike.
  • With much of their business originating from repeat clients and their referrals, Paul and Diane have dedicated many years building lifetime relationships.
  • Paul and Diane are community oriented. They can help you discover that community.
  • Paul and Diane…..more than just agents.

 http://www.stlazarehomesforsale.com/30sec_eng.htm

http://www.stlazarehomesforsale.com/30sec_fr.htm

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

https://twitter.com/#!/DianeLaflamme

OPEN HOUSE, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH
3852-3854 Hotel de Ville, Le Plateau/Montreal
This well maintained Duplex is in the heart of the Le Plateau area.
Please drop in.
Vendor says SELL!
dplaflamme@videotron.ca

4 Ways to Eat Healthy During the Holiday Season

The holidays are a time for us to gather with family and friends to celebrate. For better or worse, with celebration comes food. If you have been working very hard at eating healthy, losing weight, or maintaining your weight, this may be a difficult time for you. The last thing we want to do is over-indulge in all the delicious food that surrounds us during the holiday season. What are some things you can do to avoid over-eating and sabotaging all your hard work?

Prepare Yourself Before the Party
One of the biggest mistakes you can make before heading to a party is to skip a meal or arrive hungry. By eating a light, healthy snack before leaving your own house, you can set yourself up to make better choices.Try a low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, or a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with skim milk.

Bring a Healthy Holiday Food
If you are hosting the party, you have control of the ingredients that are added to the favorite holiday recipes - but as a guest, it is not as easy. However, just because you are a guest does not mean you can not offer to bring a healthy, low-fat dish to add to the selection. Most hosts will welcome an additional dish, and the other guests may enjoy having a healthier option to choose. Consider a simple dish like roasted string beans, or if you offer to bring dessert, consider a pumpkin pie without the crust or baked apples.

Be Mindful During the Party
The first thing you should do is remember what the celebration is about. Your mind should be focused on enjoying the time with your family and friends. During mealtime, fill your plate up mostly with vegetables. Try not to over-indulge, but you should not feel like you have to avoid any item. Choose items that are your favorite in smaller portions, and eat slowly to savor every bite.

Avoid drinking beverages that are high in sugar and calories, or at least limit your intake to a single drink. Alcohol adds extra unwanted calories and, if too much is consumed, it lowers inhibitions, which can lead to overeating. Try consuming water with a lemon or lime, skim milk, or diet / sugar-free beverages.

One great way to avoid snacking throughout the party is to plan fun activities to participate in with other guests, such as games or making crafts. If it is available, set up a tournament with a gaming system that is interactive. That is a great way to burn some calories and avoid the buffet of snacks sitting out on the counter or table.

Keep Moving
This time of the year should be enjoyable. However, you need to keep physically active, maybe now more than ever. Physical activity reduces stress and gives us more energy. Try fitting in a workout before the party because, more likely than not, you will be tired from all the celebrating afterwards. During the party, go on a brisk walk with some of the other guests or, if there are children around, toss a ball outside. This can give you a burst of energy and a chance to catch up.

If you like participating in races, sign yourself up for a seasonal 5K run/walk or some other fitness event that will keep you focused and motivated to stay active.

Remember: The holidays are for celebrating with family and friends. If you must splurge one, two, or even three days during the holiday season, then that really is not going to ruin all of your hard work. It takes an extra 500 calories each day, or 3,500 calories a week, to gain a pound. All the extra snacking can really add up, but you can easily pass up all the treats in the office and keep goodies out of your own home. If you do this, you can feel good allowing yourself to enjoy the foods you look forward to every year.


About the Author:
Amy Reidenbach is a registered dietitian with a desire to help others learn about nutrition. She has many years of experience in the food service and health care industries. Amy holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin - Stout and a Master of Science in Human Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University. Amy uses her personal life experiences to fuel her passion for nutrition and the overall well-being of those around her.

www.fitday.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Royal LePage Village Charity Auction - Wednesday, November 23rd

The Charity Auction for the Fireman's Christmas Basket Fund is this Wednesday, November 23rd at Hudson Village Theatre, Hudson. Preview is at 6:30 p.m.
For more information please call 450.458.5365
Please come out and help out!
Merry Christmas!
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=113891415390962
Encan de Noel. Au profits des fonds des paniers de Noel des Pompiers.
Mercredi le 23 novembre 2011, Village Theatre, Hudson

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homebuyers find bat colony in attic, onus was on seller to warn buyers

Every month, Quebec judges and regulatory agencies issue dozens of rulings that, without making headlines, set the ground rules for business in Quebec.

Here are a few of the offbeat and/or consequential rulings rendered in recent weeks.

A bat problem isn’t something you can omit telling a potential buyer about when selling your home, two former owners of a Montérégie property learned the hard way.

They were ordered to pay a total of $37,126, plus interest, to a young couple that purchased the house for $91,500 in 2009.

The buyers didn’t have the property inspected professionally or even take a look in the attic (whose trap door was screwed shut), but testified the owner actually mentioned to them during a visit not to worry about bats, because they came from a church nearby.

In fact, exterminators had been to the house twice before attempting to rid the house of bats, Quebec Court Judge Pierre Bachand noted in his judgment.

The buyers had their first encounter within days of concluding the purchase agreement. A bat was flying in the house at 3 a.m., terrifying the woman, whose husband had gone to work in Alberta. She went to her parents’ home and didn’t return until her husband came back and removed the bat.

Two days later, there were two bats in the kitchen, and the couple left again, this time checking into a motel. An exterminator was summoned the next day. He told them a colony of 400 to 500 bats was established in the attic and, since they couldn’t be killed, they’d have to be caught and moved.

Because of its size, he estimated the colony already had been there four or five years. And their presence meant all the insulation would have to be removed, since it now contained guano. As it turned out, it also contained asbestos, further complicating removal.

Buyer and seller worked together to clear the attic, filling 20 bags, but relations soured after that and the matter ended up in court.

The seller said he’d bought the property from his aunt in 2008 for $75,000. He said he hadn’t inspected the attic either, because the aunt told him there was nothing to see.

The aunt told the court she lived in the house one year, renting it after, and her only encounter with a bat was when one grazed her face in the night, and she killed it. But she admitted she subsequently paid for an attic fumigation at the request of a tenant.

Judge Bachand said there was no doubt the bats were a hidden vice, because the size of the colony meant it had been there a while and anyone living there during the summer months would have been aware of it because of the noise and smell.

The fact the trap door was screwed shut suggested someone knew about the problem, as did the open upstairs windows when the couple made their second pre-purchase visit.

“An owner doesn’t have to declare the fortuitous presence of one bat in a home. It’s a different story when you had to combat the presence of bats with an exterminator on two occasions and there were 100 bats in the colony the second time,” Judge Bachand said.

“Who wouldn’t check the attic if they’d been advised more than 100 bats previously resided there and they had the habit of returning to the same spot year after year? Nobody. If the (previous) owner had checked, he’d have realized it was infested when he bought.”

Judge Bachand ordered the seller to pay the buyers a total of $37,126, plus interest, to cover the cost of repairing and decontaminating the property, lost salary, inconvenience and damages, and the seller’s aunt to pay him $21,805 for not disclosing the problem to him.

The Quebec Order of Chemists filed suit against an award-winning Montreal university professor for “letting himself be described as a biochemist” in articles and news stories on several websites while not registered as such in the province, but Justice of the Peace Pierre Fortin didn’t buy it and acquitted him of all five charges in Quebec Court.

The professional order claimed the prof had “usurped” a title “reserved solely” for its members in good standing.

“While we do take into consideration that these articles were not written by you, the quantity of these occurrences leads us to believe it may be more than the indiscretion and carelessness of a journalist,” the order told the professor in a letter entered in evidence.

Fortin disagreed. He said the articles were written by sources outside the professor’s control and there was no evidence he deliberately used the designation, or knew he’d be so described by someone else and consented to it.

“One presumes a professor and researcher of his calibre has better things to do than surf the Internet and Google himself every morning to ensure the articles that mention him don’t give him a title he doesn’t have,” Fortin wrote, adding he wouldn’t convict someone for the actions of others he couldn’t influence or control.

Conviction would have triggered a minimal fine of $1,500 per charge.


By Paul Delean, The Gazette
pdelean@montrealgazette.com

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hospital plan for Vaudreuil-Dorion renews cries for saving green belt

Old-growth forest in Vaudreuil-Soulanges no place for health centre, nature groups say. An all terrain vehicle trail runs through the Chaline forest in the southeastern corner of St. Lazare that is being considered for the new hospital and cegep, Initial surveys suggest half the 650-hectare site is either too wet or unstable. Thursday, November 10, 2011.
MONTREAL - A proposal to establish a new hospital centre in the midst of an old-growth forest in Vaudreuil-Soulanges is the perfect illustration of why the Montreal region needs a protected green belt, local environment groups say.

"I do understand that (Vaudreuil-Soulanges) needs a hospital, but in terms of the long-term benefits this forest is providing, it just doesn't make sense to tear it down and build a hospital here," said Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Projects Manager with the David Suzuki Foundation (Quebec).

"This is the very reason why we are pushing for the idea of a green belt in the Greater Montreal area - and not just a ring around the city but a network of connecting green areas and waterways.

"We have to protect what's left of these natural habitats and woodlands that are providing us with billions of dollars of eco-services a year."

The regional county municipality of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, a fast-growing suburb just off the southwestern tip of Montreal Island, is the only community in Canada with a population over 100,000 people that doesn't have its own hospital.

Environmental groups say the county has other options than to build the hospital centre - as well as schools and housing - in one of the largest intact forests in the region.

The 640-hectare forest, which has no official name and is currently zoned agricultural, is bounded by the CP rail line to the north, Highway 540 to the east, the CN rail line to the south and the municipal boundary between Vaudreuil-Dorion and Cèdres to the west. The Quinchien River runs through it, as do several creeks and streams.

Toussaint says the forest is biologically diverse, large enough and old enough to be considered regionally significant and be protected under proposed green belt legislation.

Quebec's health minister announced in 2009 that Vaudreuil-Soulanges would get its hospital, and in the spring of 2010 asked the county and its health services centre to recommend a location. They hired a private firm to do a survey of available lands.

The firm concluded there were no appropriate vacant sites in the county zoned for institutional development, but that if the forested area could be rezoned from agricultural, it would be wellsuited.

Most of the land is in the municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion, while 60 hectares are in St. Lazare.

The land is privately owned. The MRC has requested an interim control regulation from the province, which means no development is allowed while the hospital project is being studied.

The county is requesting a zoning change and will present the Environment Department with studies in the next few weeks to back that request.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Metropolitan Community is in the process of drawing up a land-use plan that is likely to include a network of protected areas. That plan is supposed to be presented to the provincial government by the end of the year.

"Now is the time to shine a light on these dark places, and for the public to make it clear that projects like these have to be revisited," said David Fletcher of the Green Coalition, a conservation group.

Guy-Lin Beaudoin, director general of the MRC of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, said the proposal to build a "regional institutional hub" in that as-yet undeveloped part of the region is not without environmental merit.

He said 60 to 70 per cent of the 640-hectare forested area would be preserved under the county's proposal. In addition to a hospital, the MRC wants to build a high-density "regional institutional hub" on the site, including educational institutions (primary, secondary, CEGEP and university), a pharmacy, offices, housing and neighbourhood services like stores and cafés, all accessible by public transit.

"We are looking to balance the needs of the public - both health needs and environmental needs - and we want to plan this development with public transit and density in mind, in accordance with the new land-use plan," he told The Gazette last week.

He said the Environment Department will be looking at studies of the site provided by the MRC in the next few weeks and will likely order more studies to be done.

"And of course, if the (environment) minister says 'No way, José', it stops right there," Beaudoin said.

Toussaint points out the firm studying potential sites was restricted by the county administration to consider only vacant land of more than 25 hectares. There are built sites that size in the county that are currently underused, he said, pointing to an almost vacant 12-storey office tower surrounded by a vast parking lot at de la Cité des Jeunes and de la Gare Blvds.

Beaudoin said this site is not appropriate because it is not as accessible and is located near a gas pipeline.

Retrofitting an older building into a modern hospital would be much more expensive and complex, he added.

Environmental groups say that kind of thinking discounts the long-term economic and ecological costs of tearing down a forest.

Toussaint points to a 2008 Ontario study by the David Suzuki Foundation that estimated the economic value of protected green spaces and farmlands, in terms of the "ecosystem services" they provide. That study put the value of these services - including water filtration, flood control, carbon storage, waste treatment, wildlife habitat and recreation - at $3,571 per hectare annually.

"Whenever(politicians) see a site with no infrastructure on it, it is considered undeveloped and without value," said the Green Coalition's Fletcher. "But there very definitely is something there.

"This land is already developed, with an ecologically valuable forest. It's nature's development and it's exactly what we are sadly lacking."

mlalonde@montrealgazette.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to help your house lose weight

Clutter diet will simplify daily life, author says
By Mary Beth Breckenridge, McClatchy News Service

Chances are you know how it feels to put on excess pounds. You're uncomfortable. Nothing fits right. Everything seems to take more effort. Sharon Kreighbaum believes that's how it is with houses, too. The Hudson, Ohio, resident has written Is Your House Overweight?

Recipes for Low-Fat Rooms, a guide to putting a home on a clutter diet. The book, released Tuesday, helps readers streamline their homes and set them up in a way that simplifies day-to-day life.

The book's premise is that a bloated house is an uncomfortable one. Clutter gets in our way, increases our stress and wastes our time, energy and resources.

The self-published book grew out of Kreighbaum's work as an interior designer and home stager, as well as her early experience as a kitchen designer.

She also was inspired by a few people in her life, she said.

One is her husband, Mark, whom she described as a minimalist. Another is a cousin in California whose home was devastated by an earthquake, but who decided not to replace many of her possessions because she realized she didn't need them. The third is her brother, a priest who once lived in a monastery in Italy with just one closet and one dresser.

He always looked sharp, even with a limited wardrobe, she said. "He had such a full, rewarding life living without stuff."

Kreighbaum said she's incorporated those lessons in her work, and she's seen the difference decluttering can make in her clients' lives. One couple even lost weight after their house did, probably because decluttering lowered their stress and freed space in their kitchen so they could more easily cook and eat healthy at home, she said.

A clutter-free home, however, doesn't have to be a spare one, Kreighbaum insisted. After all, she loves surrounding herself with beautiful things just as much as her clients do.

"You can live with luxury, but just enough that it's not clutter," she said.

Clutter, she said, comes from indecision. Things accumulate because we haven't decided how to handle them or where to put them. Then, she said, we set ourselves up for the frustration and wasted time of continually searching for things.

So one of the keys to Kreighbaum's approach is assigning everything a home, which should be where you use the item or where you need it - your purse and cellphone near the door, for instance, and your dishes within reach of the dishwasher.

Another is deciding which activities you want to happen regularly in each room and then keeping in it only the things that support those activities. In a kitchen, for example, that might mean putting the everyday items in easy reach, storing seldom-used serving pieces in less accessible spots and finding other homes for the backpacks, mail, paperwork and other things that tend to accumulate there.

Think of it as living like you're on vacation, Kreighbaum said. Even the most luxurious hotels and vacation homes contain only the things their guests will need during their stays.

"Any more than that and we wouldn't be able to relax and unwind," she writes in the book.

Decluttering saves money, too. Not only will you stop buying things that don't enrich your life, she said, but you'll also have a better handle on what you do own so you won't spend money on duplicates.

TIPS FOR A CLUTTER-FREE HOME

- Declutter with a friend. He or she can provide objectivity and encourage you to keep going.

- Declutter a room by taking everything out and then sorting items into four laundry baskets marked "keep," "move" (to another room, that is), "throw away" and "donate." Return to the room only the things that you love and that serve your needs.

- In a pantry or kitchen cupboard, store like items together. You can see at a glance whether you need more of something, so you won't overbuy or come up short.

- A single, large item makes a bigger decorative impact than a lot of small items.

- Display special items by themselves - for example, hang a painting over a mantel that has nothing else on it. It will command more attention without the other distractions.

- Gifts and inheritances can be the biggest stumbling blocks to decluttering. Remember that when someone gives you a gift, the intention isn't to burden you with it. If it doesn't enhance your life, it's OK to sell it or give it away. Taking a picture of it first leaves you with a lasting memory.
© Copyright (c) McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 11, 2011

REMEMBRANCE DAY

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quiz: What's Your Fashion Style?


Ladies Home Journal
Find out what your likes and dislikes say about your signature fashion style.
By Lisa Kovalovich

http://www.lhj.com/lhj/quiz.jsp?catref=lhj108&quizId=/templatedata/lhj/quiz/data/WhatsYourStyleQuiz_09202002.xml

http://www.lhj.com/style/fashion/clothing

Mrs. Claus' Cookbook

It's that time of the year again....soon anyway.
Check out these links:

http://www.northpole.com/Kitchen/Cookbook/MissingRecipe.asp

http://emailsanta.com/clock.asp






Sunday, November 6, 2011

The view of the city from Mount Royal takes your breath away...


I do love Mount Royal..... especially at this time of the year. I have so many wonderful memories of the mountain, park, Beaver Lake and more. It's important to take time to enjoy the scenery....Montreal is so beautiful.

http://montreal.com/parks/mtroyal.html

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thinking about selling or buying?


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Paul and Diane live in Saint-Lazare therefore they are familiar with the surrounding areas.

Paul and Diane know the market. They have a wealth of knowledge about urban and rural living plus they are master negotiators.

Diane & Paul accredit their success to excellent full time service, commitment and a knowledgeable and personable approach to their clients

Paul and Diane offer bilingual service.

Paul and Diane are consistent top producers. They are able to produce winning results for home buyers and sellers alike.

With much of their business originating from repeat clients and their referrals, Paul and Diane have dedicated many years building lifetime relationships.

Paul and Diane are community oriented. They can help you discover that community.

Paul and Diane…..more than just agents.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween is around the corner!

Baby, it's getting cold outside!

Now's the time to winterize your home.
There's nothing better than cozying up on your couch during a winter blizzard while you're warm and comfortable inside. And there's nothing worse than feeling cold winter drafts all around you because you didn't take the time to winterize your home.

Fall is the perfect time for homeowners to prepare their home for the inevitable cold and snow, and one of the most beneficial ways to keep heat in and cold out is by winterizing your windows and doors.

But before you pull out your caulking gun, pick up the phone and get an energy audit.

"The audit will tell you exactly where the issues are in your home," says Francois Hamann, president of Eco Insulation in Markham, Ont. "It's a federal program, so homeowners will get money back depending on what upgrade they're doing. They might as well take advantage because it really is the best way to make sure your home is ready for winter."

If you notice the snow around your home is melting faster than your neighbours or you have large icicles hanging from your home, there's a good chance your attic is poorly insulated. Hamann says one of the most important places to winterize is the attic: poorly insulated attics are responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of a home's heat loss. Hamann says most homes don't have an attic with an R-value (insulation value) rating higher than 24, but to properly insulate your attic a minimum rating of R40 is needed.

"If your attic isn't properly insulated, you'll experience pockets of air where it's colder in your home," says Hamann.

He notes the best way to insulate the area is with cellulose insulation, a cost-effective and environmentally friendly product that performs well in extremely cold temperatures.

To winterize windows and doors, using high performance spray foam insulation and caulking will ensure there is no air leakage. Replacing door jamb weatherstripping and re-caulking the exterior of windows are low-cost options that can make a big difference to your bottom line.

If your windows and doors are beyond repair, they should be replaced with new energy-efficient options.

Technical advances mean today's best windows allow heat to come in while preventing it from escaping. Adam Jones, owner of MAXgreen Windows and Doors Ltd. in Calgary, advises homeowners to invest in triple-paned (or triple-glazed) windows for ultimate efficiency.

A triple-pane window provides more insulation and is more energy-efficient than the double-pane window (or dual pane), not just because of the added barrier but because this extra layer allows another surface to be given a low-emittance (low-E) coating. Essentially a low-E coating hinders radiant heat transfer: very little heat will be lost from the inside or gained from the outside.

He also advises homeowners to invest in crank-style windows over the builder-grade sliding variety. "Sliding windows commonly found in new construction don't seal quite as tight as casement (crank) windows," says Jones. "Although crank windows might cost 15 to 25 per cent more than sliding windows, they'll save you more in home efficiency."

Although some homeowners swear by storm doors to block out wind and cold, Jones says investing in a high quality fibreglass door is more beneficial when it comes to winterizing your home.

"Fibreglass doors are less likely to warp," says Jones. "And the inside of the door is injected with foam so it insulates better and keeps heat in."

Many homeowners might not think of the garage when they go about winterizing their home, but organizing the space is imperative if you want to utilize the garage over winter.

During the hot summer months, the garage is frequently used as a workshop for home projects and the car is parked on the street or driveway. But when the weather grows cold, homeowners generally want to shelter their cars from the elements. And to do that, they have to get everything off the floor.

Because the car often takes up most of the garage, walls and ceilings are the most valuable storage areas.

"Use the height in your garage to store things used less often, such as seasonal decorations and tires," says Rick Scully, chief transformation officer of Nuvo Garage in Toronto. "You can buy ceiling baskets that hang from the ceiling where you can store items."

The walls are ideal for storing frequently used tools and new garage storage products are available for this purpose.

"They are basically heavy-duty PVC wall panels that homeowners can insert hooks in," says Scully. "The hooks and panel are so strong, you can hang anything from ladders to lawn mowers on them."
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LIFE IS BETTER WHEN YOU'RE PREPARED

We work with only the best
Contact Manulife Financial for your future.
Financial Advisor - Jonathan Showers 514.421.7090 x 264

HAVE A GREAT DAY!


Have a wonderful day!

16 SURPRISING SOURCES OF PROTEIN

Protein does more than just build strong muscles. It also strengthens bones, increases satiety, protects against heart disease, and helps support a healthy immune system. We also know that consuming plenty of protein is an essential component of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. When most people think about protein, foods like chicken, beef, pork, and eggs usually come to mind. But there are several hidden protein treasures that can help you meet your needs while also helping you cut back on your meat intake.

Beans

Beans are well-known for being high in fiber, but did you know they are also high in protein? Beans are a wonderful source of protein, ranging from 10-18 grams per cup cooked, depending on the type. They're also versatile and economical. Dried beans are very inexpensive and can be incorporated into a variety to dishes. Diets that include beans may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Another bean bonus: A recent study found that people who eat beans weighed on average 7 pounds less and had smaller waists than those who didn't eat beans. To reduce some unpleasant side effects, rinse beans in water to reduce their gas-producing effect.

Quinoa

Another surprising source of high-quality protein is quinoa. Quinoa, a seed that's commonly thought of as a grain, was originally cultivated by the Incas in South America but is gaining popularity worldwide. A quarter-cup of cooked quinoa provides 5 grams of protein. It is especially rich in the amino acid lysine, which is important for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa works well in soups and salads and can easily serve as a substitute for rice in most recipes.

Soybeans

Soybeans are the only vegetables that are a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids--amino acids that our bodies can not make and must be obtained from food. In fact, soybeans produce more than two times as much protein per acre of land than any other crop of vegetable or grain. Soybeans are used in a multitude of foods, including soy milk, tofu, tempeh (fermented soybeans), soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy nuts, edamame (green, immature soybeans), mature yellow soybeans, miso (a thick paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt--used in Japanese cooking to make soups or sauces), textured vegetable protein ('TVP'--used as a meat alternative), and others. The protein content of soy foods varies, ranging from about 25 grams for a ½-cup serving of TVP to 4 grams for a 2 Tbsp serving of miso paste.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are also a meat-free protein source. A one ounce serving of most nuts and seeds provide about 6-9 grams of protein.

Other Protein Sources

Other lesser known protein sources include:

Cottage cheese (14 g per ½-cup / 4 oz. serving)
Dried spirulina seaweed (8.6 g per 1 cup serving)
Bagels (7.2 g per small bagel, 3" diameter)
Oatmeal (6 g per 1 cup cooked)
Bulgur (6 g per 1 cup cooked)
Brown rice (5 g per 1 cup cooked)
Spinach (5 g per 1 cup cooked)
Baked potatoes (4.5 g per medium potato, skin included)
Peas (4.5 g per ½ cup serving)
Avocados (4 g per avocado)
Broccoli (4 g per 1 cup cooked)

SPACE SAVER MAKEOVERS FOR HOUSES & CONDOS

Are you constantly misplacing household items like your screwdriver or tennis racquet? If so, perhaps your household needs a little re-organizing. Whether your home is a compact condo, cozy semi, or spacious detached, we can all benefit from a periodic check-in to see if we are making the best use of our space.

For house owners…
Take a peek inside many Canadian garages and chances are you won’t see a car. Garages and basements often become a dumping ground for all the things we rarely use. Here are five quick ways to makeover your garage and/or basement:

Clear the clutter! Have a yard sale, sell your unused goods online, or donate items to your local charity.
Add tall utility shelving to free up floor space, keeping any hazardous cleaning, garden, and automotive supplies out of reach of children by placing them on the top shelves.
Store lesser used items on utility shelving in plastic storage containers with lids to keep out dust and moisture. Use bigger bins on casters for more frequently used items and roll them out of the way, such as under a worktable.
Clear off your workbench and use a wall or pegboard to hang frequently used tools and store the rest in a tool chest. Use jars or plastic bins for storing and organizing smaller items like nails, screws, and nuts.
Hang skis, bikes, brooms, shovels, wheelbarrows and other unwieldy sport, garden, and household items off purpose-built wall hooks or in specialty containers to keep them free from damage.

For condo owners…
Even in the smallest of condominium units, there is often under-utilized space. Here are a few ways to help you optimize it:

Transfer your music collection to a digital format and sell your space-hogging records and CDs.
Keep out-of-season clothes and spare linens in vacuum-sealed storage bags under the bed. Use hooks for bathrobes, clothes, purses, or even jewellery.
Use decorative baskets for small items like magazines, hats, scarves, mittens, and children’s toys to keep things neat and organized.
Open or floating shelving will create the illusion of space while providing stylish storage for household and decorative items.
Invest in multi-functional furniture versus individual pieces which can take up valuable floor space. For example, a padded ottoman can be used as coffee table, storage space, and extra seating.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

EARN AEROPLAN MILES WHEN BUYING OR SELLING YOUR HOME


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Canadian housing market called 'bright spot' in economic news

Prices for existing homes continued to moderate in September, with year-overyear gains the smallest since January, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The average price of a home sold across the country was $352,581, a 6.5-per-cent jump from a year earlier.

Sales activity rose 2.7 per cent in September from August, and 11 per cent from a year earlier but the Ottawabased group, which represents about 100 boards across the country, continued to describe the market as balanced.

"The national housing market tightened in September from the month before, but remains firmly entrenched in balanced territory," the group said in a release.

Sales for the first nine months of the year are now 1.2 per cent ahead of last year's pace.

Toronto led a number of other major markets boosting September sales. It was the highest level for national sales since the government tightened mortgage rules again earlier this year.

"The Canadian housing market remains a bright spot against a backdrop of mixed headline news about the global economy," said CREA president Gary Morse. "Low mortgage rates continue to draw buyers to the housing market, while recently tightened mortgage regulations are working as intended."

CREA said new listings nationally have changed very little over the past two months, but that the figure was affected by an averaging out of markets.

New listings rose in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Oakville and Vancouver, but were offset by fewer new listings in markets like Edmonton and the Fraser Valley.

Nationally, the sales-to-new listings ratio was 52.8 per cent in September, up from 51.6 per cent in August, and still considered a balanced market. CREA says almost two-thirds of Canadian markets have a sales-to-new listings ratio of 40 per cent to 60 per cent, which is considered balanced.

The number of months of inventory, which is based on how long it would take to sell current listings based on the current sales pace, was 6.1 months in September. It was 6.2 months in August.

Gregory Klump, chief economist for CREA, noted housing has remained stable in face of market volatility, which has contributed to Canadian confidence.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Canadian+housing+market+called+bright+spot+economic+news/5564736/story.html#ixzz1b8qnkHH3

Sunday, October 16, 2011

HALLOWEEN IS COMING....

Halloween is right around the corner. It's easy to send out Halloween cards and gifts using the SEND OUT CARD system.

www.sendoutcards.com/dianelaflamme
514.715.4514