Information and happenings in and around Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton areas
Friday, February 5, 2021
Community News and Events
Marion Goard of Keller Williams Edge Realty with 27 reviews and a “success ratio” of 100% has been named the third top agent in Burlington for 2020 by Rate-My-Agent.com. The review site analyzes all the ratings and reviews on the site to compile a list of the Top Real Estate Agents in Burlington.
“Unlike other agent ranking sites, agents can’t pay to have negative reviews removed or hidden and cannot pay to be included on the list of top-rated agents,” says Rate-My-Agent. The company won't disclose exactly how it verifies reviews “to protect the integrity of the process,” but it says “there have been many attempts by agents to game the system and rankings, which is why we keep our algorithms a closely held secret.” This year the company has started penalizing agents caught cheating. “It’s not fair to the agents who earn their reviews honestly, so we implemented a penalty system.” Some agents have suggested that cheating should be reported to provincial regulators.
The rest of the top 10 agents for 2020 can be found on Rate-My-Agent.com.
The list is published annually based on that year’s verified reviews.
Rate-My-Agent.com is a rating and review website for real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and insurance agents. It’s free for the general public and real estate professionals. The company pledges 50% of profit to worthy causes.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Community News and Events
The pandemic has been a challenge to everyone, but perhaps more so to students. Not only was their academic year abruptly truncated last year, but this year many are having to do their learning from a distance. The dynamics of the classroom has changed and curriculums have been adjusted from semesters to quadmesters - four blocks of learning concentrating on two subjects per quad. The teachers have faced the challenge, encouraging the students to persevere, challenging them to step out of their comfort zones and make learning intuitive and interesting. An essential part of the curriculum is the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) project where high school students have to identify, explore and research a social issue. Each year, YPI Canada grants hundreds of thousands of dollars to community-based charities and it’s the students who decide who to submit for consideration. Philanthropy and learning collide in this initiative. It’s a program that speaks to me because my experience with charities as a volunteer and a donor is an integral part of who I am.
I’d like to share the efforts of five teachers at Aldershot School in Burlington who challenged their Grade 10 students to compete for a grant for their charity of choice. The teachers - Jennifer Riley who teaches French Immersion and Jaime Mitchell, Matthew Maguire, Ramiel Nassara and Kerry Sagar - who teach in the I-STEM Program (@ISTEM_HDSB on Twitter); an integrated program across four subjects (Science, English, Civics/Careers, Math), sometimes teach via Google Meet and sometimes face-to-face with the students in class. In September, armed with a $5000 grant from YPI, the teachers tasked the students to individually select a social issue impacting their community and a charity that addresses that issue. The students had to create a video pitch for their cause and charity, which was then viewed by their peers.
“I remain committed to my belief that we can ask students to engage in meaningful projects that change the world while also covering curriculum,” Mitchell posted on Twitter.
The video pitches were the result of the students’ deep research into the social issue they chose and an examination of the impact it has on the community. In their videos, the students outlined the social issue and highlighted how their chosen charity helps.
I invite you to watch the student-created videos. Not only is their understanding of social issues clear and their creativity inspiring, it is encouraging that young people are ready, willing and able to do something about it.
There were four runners-up and one finalist from the groups that were formed.
Runner up #1 The Burlington Food Bank
Runner up #2 Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Runner up #3 Halton Learning Foundation
Runner up #4 The Bruce Trail Conservancy
And the winner of the $5000 grant: Halton Women’s Place
Congratulations to all involved! This has been a great initiative and it's wonderful to see our students so engaged in the charitable sector of our community. Well done!
Monday, July 6, 2020
Community News and Events Financial Health House and Home Real Estate Market Buying and Selling
Traditionally, spring is one of the busiest times of the year for real estate. But the coronavirus outbreak—and subsequent stay-at-home orders—led many buyers and sellers to put their moving plans on hold. In April, sales volume fell to its lowest level since 1984, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.1
However, while sales have fallen, prices have remained stable. Nationally, the average home price in April was down just 1.3% from the same month last year.1 And in many metropolitan areas including Hamilton-Burlington, prices have continued to rise. The Teranet–National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures 11 major Canadian markets, showed home prices in April were up 5.3% from a year earlier.2
Despite the stats, given safety concerns and the current economic climate, is it prudent to jump into the real estate market now?
Before you decide, it’s important to consider where the housing market is headed, how the real estate process has changed, and your own individual needs and circumstances.
WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?
In response to the economic slowdown, the Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates.3 That’s good news for homebuyers who have struggled to afford a mortgage in the past. Lower mortgage rates can bring down monthly payments or increase a buyer’s purchasing power while making it easier to qualify for a loan.
And at a recent press conference, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz told reporters that interest rates would likely remain low for the foreseeable future. He also noted that the country is on track to meet the central bank’s “best-case scenario for recovery” as outlined in April, and he didn’t predict damage to the economy would be as “dire” as some have speculated.4
While many buyers are eager to take advantage of low mortgage rates, some wonder if recessionary pressures could drive down home prices, too. Economists at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predict that prices will decrease over the next 12 months.5 However, many real estate industry veterans expect supply and demand fundamentals to prevent a drastic drop in home values.6
There’s been a shortage of affordable homes on the market for years, and that inventory shortage has helped to prop up prices—even as sales have slowed. That’s because supply and demand have fallen at around the same pace.7 Of course, some market segments have fared better than others. For example, demand has softened for urban condos in some areas, which has caused prices to drop. Whereas, the supply of single-family homes in many neighbourhoods has dried up, leaving eager buyers to compete for listings.7
There are certainly opportunities out in the marketplace for both buyers and sellers. But now more than ever, it’s crucial to have a professional real estate agent who understands your local market dynamics and can help you assess the best time to buy or list your home.
HOW HAS THE REAL ESTATE PROCESS CHANGED?
The safety of our clients and our team members is our top priority. That’s why we’ve developed a process for buyers and sellers that utilizes technology to minimize personal contact.
For our listings, we’re holding online open houses, offering virtual viewings, and conducting walk-through video tours. We’re also using video chat to qualify interested buyers before we book in-person showings. This enables us to promote your property to a broad audience while limiting physical foot traffic to only serious buyers.
Likewise, our buyer clients can view properties online and take virtual video tours to minimize the number of homes they step inside. Ready to visit a property in person? To decrease surface contact sellers are asked to turn on all the lights and open doors and cabinets before your scheduled showing.
The majority of our “paperwork” is also digital. In fact, many of the legal and financial documents involved in buying and selling a home went online years ago. You can safely view and eSign contracts from your smartphone or computer.
While these new ways of conducting business may seem strange at first, keep in mind, many out of town buyers and others have utilized virtual methods to buy and sell homes for years.
IS IT THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME TO MAKE A MOVE?
The reality is, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to whether it’s a good time to buy or sell a home because everyone’s circumstances are unique. But now that you know the state of the market and what you can expect as you shop for real estate, consider the following questions:
Why do you want or need to move?
It’s important to consider why you want to move and if your needs may shift over the next year. For example, if you need a larger home for your growing family, your space constraints aren’t likely to go away. In fact, they could be amplified as you spend more time at home.
However, if you’re planning a move to be closer to your office, consider whether your commute could change. Some companies are rethinking their office dynamics and may encourage their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.
How urgently do you need to complete your move?
If you have a new baby on the way or want to be settled before schools open in the fall, we recommend that you begin aggressively searching as soon as possible. With fewer homes on the market, it’s taking longer than usual for clients to find and purchase a home.
However, if your timeline is flexible, you may be well-positioned to score a deal. There may be some highly-incentivized sellers who are willing to negotiate on terms and price. Talk to us about setting up a search so we can keep an eye out for any bargains that pop up. Most importantly, get pre-qualified for a mortgage now so you’ll be ready to act quickly.
If you’re eager to sell this year, now is the time to begin prepping your home for the market. Prices could fluctuate, and experts predict a second wave of infections may necessitate another lockdown.8 If you wait, you might miss your window of opportunity.
How has your particular market segment been impacted?
Certain segments will weather this economic downturn better than others. It’s important to understand the market dynamics of your particular area, price point, and housing type. The truth is, broad macroeconomic projections rarely paint an accurate picture of the day-to-day market realities of a given neighbourhood.
How long do you plan to stay in your new home?
During times of market uncertainty, your best bet is to buy a home you can envision yourself keeping for several years. Fortunately, with decreased competition and ultra-low mortgage rates, you’ll be well-positioned to score a great deal.
Is your income stable?
If there’s a good chance you could lose your job, you may be better off waiting to buy a home. The exception would be if you’re planning to downsize. Moving to a less expensive home could allow you to tap into your home equity or cut down on your monthly expenses.
WHEN YOU’RE READY TO MOVE—I'M READY TO HELP
While uncertain market conditions may give pause to some buyers and sellers, they can actually present an opportunity for those who are willing, able, and motivated to make a move.
Your average spring season would be flooded with real estate activity. Right now, motivated players are out in the market. That means that if you’re looking to buy, you’re in a better position to negotiate a great price. And today’s low mortgage rates could give a big boost to your purchasing power. In fact, if you’ve been priced out of the market before, this may be the perfect time to look.
If you’re ready to sell, you’ll have fewer listings to compete against in your neighbourhood and price range. But you’ll want to act quickly—a second wave of coronavirus cases could be coming later this year. Ask yourself how you will feel if you have to face another lockdown in your current home.
Let’s schedule a free virtual consultation to discuss your individual needs and circumstances. We can help you assess your options and create a plan that makes you feel both comfortable and confident during these unprecedented times.
The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.
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Saturday, May 9, 2020
Community News and Events
Each year on the second Thursday in May, Keller Williams Realty associates celebrate RED Day. Standing for Renew, Energize and Donate, this observance defines who we are as a company and individuals and is a natural extension of our commitment to the highest level of professional customer service. Making a difference in the lives of others and bettering the communities that we serve lies at the heart of the Keller Williams culture. This year, this day of service is more important than ever!
With COVID-19 and social distancing in play this year the associates at our brokerages are not able to get together to work as a group as we have in the past, so we are going digital and all doing what we can individually to give back to our community. To that end, I am facilitating a community Food Drive in support of Food For Life and collecting non-perishable food items and toiletries.
Food For Life is an charitable organization, based in Burlington ON, that sources and distributes fresh, nutritious food to those in need through community partnerships. Their reach is far and wide. Food For Life distributes food, free of charge to over 100 community food programs in Halton and surrounding area. Prior to COVID-19, they were providing over 6,800 meals per day to people in need.
Many more people and families across Burlington are now finding themselves in need of food support, including those who have never needed to access a food bank before or simply need food delivery. There are a number of organizations rolling up their sleeves to address the increased need. I'm both fortunate and humbled to be in a position to help and RED Day is just what I needed to spur me to action.
I'd love your support of my RED Day Food Drive and it's easy to contribute! You can drop off your donations in a collection box on the front porch at Unit 19, 1095 Skyview Dr. in Burlington, between 9:00 am - 8:00 pm, Monday May 11-Friday May 15.
If dropping off a donation is not doable for you I will be out doing porch pickups on RED Day - May 14. Just let me know if you'd like me to stop by your location. Call text or email firstname.lastname@example.org / 905-330-5201. Place your donated items in a disposable bag on your front porch by 9 am, indicating they are for the RED Day Food Drive. I'll do be making my rounds to pick up items that day between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Most needed items at Food For Life at this time:
- canned vegetables
- canned fruit
- canned protein (chicken/tuna)
- plant based protein (lentils/quinoa)
- hearty fruits (apples/oranges)
Sample of items always needed:
- canned soups/stews
- Stagg Chili
- peanut butter
- baby food
- juice/juice boxes
- sanitary and feminine hygiene products
Monday, March 30, 2020
Community News and Events Financial Health House and Home
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’re all being called upon to avoid public spaces and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of this infectious disease. While it can be understandably challenging, there are ways we can modify our homes and lifestyles to make the best of this difficult situation.
Here are a few tips for creating comfortable and functional spaces within your home for work, school, and fitness. I also share some good ways to stay connected as a community, because we’re all in this together … and no one should face these trying times alone.
Begin with the Basics
A basic home emergency preparedness kit is a great addition to any home, even under normal circumstances. It should include items like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, first aid kit, and other essentials you would need should you temporarily lose access to food, water, or electricity.
Fortunately, authorities don’t anticipate any serious interruptions to utilities or the food supply during this outbreak. However, if you haven't already, it may be a good time to start gathering your emergency basics in a designated location, so you’ll be prepared now-—and in the future—should your family ever need them.
Ready to start building an emergency kit for your home? Contact me for a free copy of my Home Emergency Preparation Checklist!
Working From Home
Many employees are being asked to work remotely. If you’re transitioning to a home office for the first time, it’s important to create a designated space for work … so it doesn’t creep into your home life, and vice versa. If you live in a small condominium or apartment, this may feel impossible. But try to find a quiet corner where you can set up a desk and comfortable chair. The simple act of separating your home and work spaces can help you focus during work hours and “turn off” at the end of the day.
Of course, with schools and daycares now closed, if you have children who are home with you all day separating your home and work life will be more difficult. Unless you have a partner who can serve as the primary caregiver, you will need to help manage the needs of your children while juggling work and virtual meetings.
If both parents are working from home, try alternating shifts, so you each have a designated time to work and to parent. If that’s not an option, experts recommend creating a schedule for your children, so they know when you’re available to play, and when you need to work1. A red stop sign on the door can help remind them when you shouldn’t be disturbed. And for young children, blocking off a specific time each day for them to nap or have independent screen time can give you a window to schedule conference calls or work uninterrupted.
Homeschooling Your Children
Parents with school-aged children may be taking on a new challenge: homeschooling. Similar to a home office, designating a space for learning activities can help your child transition between play and school. If you’re working from home, the homeschooling area would ideally be located near your workspace, so you can offer assistance and answer questions, as needed.
If possible, dedicate a desk or table where your child’s work can be spread out—and left out when they break for meals and snacks. Position supplies and materials nearby so they are independently accessible, and place a trash can and recycling bin within reach for easy cleanup. A washable, plastic tablecloth can help transition an academic space into an arts and crafts area.
If the weather is nice, try studying outside! A porch swing is a perfect spot for reading, and when the weather is suitable gardening in the backyard is a great addition to any science curriculum.
In addition to creating an academic learning environment, find age-appropriate opportunities for your children to help with household chores and meal preparation. Homeschooling advocates emphasize the importance of developing life skills alongside academic ones2. And with more meals and activities taking place at home, there will be ample opportunity for every family member to pitch in and help.
With gyms closed and team sports canceled, it can be tempting to sit on the sofa and binge Netflix. However, maintaining the physical health and mental wellness of you and your family is crucial right now. Implementing a regular exercise routine at home can help with both.
If you live in a community where you can safely exercise outdoors while maintaining the recommended distance between you and other residents, try to get out as much as possible. If the weather is nice, go for family walks, jogs, or bike rides.
Can’t get outside? Fortunately, you don’t need a home gym or fancy exercise equipment to stay fit. Look for a suitable space in your home, garage, or basement where you can comfortably move—you’ll probably need at least a 6’ x 6’ area for each person. Many cardio and strength training exercises require little (or no) equipment, including jumping jacks, lunges, and pushups.
And if you prefer a guided workout, search for free exercise videos on YouTube—there are even options specifically geared towards kids—or try one of the many fitness apps available.
Socializing From a Distance
Even though we’re all being called upon to practice “social distancing” right now, there are still ways to stay safely connected to our communities and our extended families. Picking up the phone is a great place to start. Make an effort to reach out to neighbors and loved ones who live alone and may be feeling particularly isolated right now.
And while parties and playdates are prohibited, modern technology offers countless ways to organize networked gatherings with family and friends. Try using group video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom to facilitate a virtual happy hour or book club. Host a Netflix Party to watch (and chat about) movies with friends. Or plan a virtual game night and challenge your pals to a round of Psych or Yahtzee.
There are safe ways to connect offline, too. Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Drop off groceries on an elderly neighbor’s porch. Or organize a neighborhood “chalk walk,” where children use sidewalk chalk to decorate their driveways and then head out for a stroll to view their friends’ artwork.
Of course, there’s one group of people who you can still socialize with freely—those who reside in your home. Family dinners are back, siblings are reconnecting, and many of us have been given the gift of time, with commutes, activities, and obligations eliminated. In fact, some families are finding that this crisis has brought them closer than ever.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Even with all of the tools and technology available to keep us connected, many of us are still feeling stressed, scared, and isolated. However, you can rest assured that you are not alone. I'm not only here to help you buy and sell real estate. I want to be a resource to my clients and community through good times and bad. If you and your family are in need of assistance, please reach out and let me know how I can help.
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