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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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011!/DianeLaflamme

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!

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.

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!
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

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."

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.


- 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


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

Mrs. Claus' Cookbook

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

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.