Information and happenings in and around Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton areas
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Community News and Events Financial Health House and Home
With more than 32 percent of Canada’s population over the age of 55 (as of September 2021), it’s reasonable to expect that many of us in that demographic will be looking for alternative living arrangements sometime in the next 10 to 15 years.
For anyone just starting to navigate the world of adult communities and senior living, it can be a confusing journey. There are so many options available, so choosing the right home for now and for your future is critical. Senior living and care options come in various forms, but the most distinction needs to be made between how retirement homes and nursing homes, also known as long term care (or LTC), are very different.
It is crucial to understand what services each type of home can provide, who they cater to and what costs are involved. It’s also important to understand the process of securing space in either of these options. There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately, your decision will be based on your needs today, consideration for your future care, your desired lifestyle and financial situation.
Not only will the costs vary, the environments will be different in each. There will be variances in the level of care, the activities, and the living spaces. Be prepared to do some research, or talk to someone who specializes in senior moves.
Retirement homes are typically private, offering a variety of services and living arrangements. Many have suites, similar to condominiums although generally much smaller, allowing residents to maintain a certain lifestyle and enjoy their independence. Retirement homes usually work best for anyone who wants to maintain or build an active social life with other individuals in the same age group. They vary widely on what they offer and you’ll have to ask some questions and explore the options and add-ons which you might want or need. You’ll want to examine the fees to determine exactly what is included (such as food) and what à la carte services can be purchased as you need them (such as laundry and light housekeeping).
Retirement homes have become their own wonderful communities over the years, offering self-contained units where your privacy is paramount. Retirement homes have a large list of amenities at your disposal:
- Some or all of your meals
- Planned activities on-site, such as yoga, musical programs and social activities
- Regular outings (think field trips!) to various entertainment venues and shopping venues/malls
- On-site health care staff
- Weekly clinics and appointment for personal care, mental health, and medical check ups, including dental
Some retirement homes have guidelines around how long you can stay there. As your needs change, or in the event of a health crisis, the home may not be equipped to give you all the care you need. If the home cannot provide you with the services you need, you may find yourself at a loss. Be proactive and have a plan in place for future care and be prepared for another move should the retirement home be unable to provide services due to a change in your circumstances.
Most retirement homes will allow a short stay so you can test the lifestyle to ensure it's a for a good fit for you. You can book a tour to view the living options and amenities. If an offer to come for lunch is made, take advantage of this. It will give you a chance to meet some people and test the food yourself. Ask for a floor plan of the living space and an activity calendar to take home with you. Having the floor plan will help you plan where your furniture and belongings could be placed, should you decide to move. The activity calendar will give you a better idea of what is offered and can be a good indicator of what daily life might be like.
Questions To Ask A Retirement Home
- What floor plans are available?
- Are there other locations within this chain?
- Are meals included? How many?
- Can I see some meal menus? How often do the menus change?
- How, when and where are meals served? What happens if I don' like the food choices at any meal?
- Are there options for additional care? What are the fees? What services must I outsource?
- What kind of social events happen? Is there a schedule I can see?
- How often do prices increase?
- What is the policy for changing suites within the community?
- What utilities are included?
- What are some costs I may need to budget for?
- Are there laundry services?
- Which appliances are included in the suites?
- What are the move-in rules?
- What housekeeping services are provided? How often?
- How many staff members are on duty at any given time? Are there medical staff on site?
- How many residents/units are in the community?
- Are pets allowed? Are there any restrictions?
- What is the current availability? How quickly will I need to make a decision when a suitable suite becomes available? Is a deposit required?
- Do you maintain waiting lists?
Long Term Care (Nursing) Homes
Nursing homes, also called long term care homes, or LTCs, are designed for people who need more support in their day-to-day care. Nursing homes in Ontario are government controlled, with placements into homes and access to community services controlled by Home and Community Care Support Services (formerly LHIN, or Local Health Integrated Network). This system is needs-based, meaning people are moved to nursing homes when their medical status deems it necessary. Throughout Ontario, waiting lists are long, and while you can choose 3 to 5 preferred homes, there is no guarantee that you will get space in a home of your choice.
Unlike retirement homes, where rates will vary depending on amenities, living spaces and services, the pricing at nursing homes is consistent. Because the costs are set by the Ministry of Long-Term care, everyone pays the same price, regardless of financial situation. At the time of writing (2022) the basic monthly costs are $1891.31 for a basic room (shared with up to 4 beds), $2280.04 for semi-private, and $2701.61 for private. There is a government subsidy for basic rooms only available to those who qualify. Residents usually pay for any medications or other services not covered by their private insurance plans or the provincial drug benefit program.
Tips for Touring LTCs
- Visit the facility on different days and at various times.
- Take note of staff morale, resident activities and interactions between staff and residents.
- Talk to nursing staff about how long they’ve worked there.
- Ask to meet with the administrators.
- Ask about staff-to-resident ratios.
- Read and review the resident care plan.
- Search online for reviews of your preferred LTCs.
- Make note of how meals are served.
- Pay attention to the level of functioning of current residents.
- Look for activity boards or ask to see a list.
Whatever type of senior living facility you choose, your post-retirement life can be comfortable, safe, and enjoyable. Understanding your needs, priorities, and preferences is key to choosing an option that is best suited to you. If you are looking for an active environment, want to be surrounded by people your age, and want the flexibility to come and go as you please, a retirement home may be the right choice for you. And while a nursing home space is driven by a qualification process, you can be assured you’ll have access to care when you need it.
As a Master Accredited Senior Agent, I can walk you through the process of choosing the adult community that is right for you. When the time comes to make a move I can assist with the sale of your current home as well as offer some guidance on how to determine what furnishings and other goods you’d like to keep for your new residence. My goal is to provide you with all the specialized information and professional guidance in the most patient and caring way possible. I’ll work with you to create a personalized plan, to give you peace of mind and help you make the best decision possible.
For further resources, visit my resource page for Burlington retirement homes.
Thursday, March 3, 2022
Community News and Events Financial Health Real Estate Market Buying and Selling
Are you prepared to take action should an ageing parent suddenly need to move from their home? Most people have never had a conversation with their parents about what they see as their long-term living plan. With some careful planning and consideration you can certainly avoid having to make the decision of where to move mom or dad while in crisis mode. Here are two very different client stories.
Dad had a bad fall and sadly, passed away a few days later. We knew Mom couldn’t stay alone in the house. She was frail, had some dementia. Dad had been taking care of her for years, failing to truly address Mom’s physical and mental state. His thinking was that he would outlive her, so alternative living arrangements didn’t need to be addressed. After Dad’s passing, decisions for and about Mom had to be made quickly. How would she manage? Where would she live? How would we handle things?
Once we got over the shock of dad’s death and realized we needed to move quickly, mom went to live temporarily with a daughter in another city, in a less than ideal environment for her. After mom and dad’s house was sold the attention turned to finding suitable accommodations for Mom. Without a network of friends who already had parents who were living in retirement homes, we did what most people would do: we turned to Google. We searched the internet for retirement homes close to our parents' neighbourhood, hoping Mom would feel more comfortable living in a community she was familiar with. We took space available at one of the retirement homes we found online. We made the choice without investigating all the options available to us.
In hindsight, we should have anticipated that our parents would have to move eventually. We should have encouraged them to take the time to consider some alternative housing options and even look for a home that could care for someone with dementia. We ended up picking a place without really having the opportunity for any due diligence, and quite likely the home with the best SEO (search engine optimization) and not the place best suited for Mom’s lifestyle and needs.
We regret not seeking help from someone like Marion. Her vast experience in helping seniors move, and her extensive knowledge of all the options, could have saved us the headache and heartache of making a rushed and uninformed choice.
A Family Affair:
After Mom, who is very spry and alert, had a fall, Mom knew herself that it would be best for her to move sooner than later to another location where other people were around and where she could find the support she needed. While the fall didn’t impact her physically very much, she knew this was another warning sign for the future.
As a family, we spoke about what mom wanted. These conversations can often be daunting and we anticipated some apprehension on her part, but we let her drive the conversation. We discussed some options in finding her a new place to live, taking a proactive approach to what her needs might be in the next five to ten years. Mom was fully on board and made the final decision herself. We had the luxury of planning the timeline and Mom moved on her terms,
We hired Marion to sell her condo and help facilitate the transition to a retirement residence. Marion was able to help us with many other services such as finding trusted professionals to help mom prepare for downsizing. The process was seamless, making it much easier for all of us. We can all rest assured that Mom will be in the perfect spot for her and the transition was made with minimal stress.
Moving onto the next home requires a holistic approach, something I proudly do every day. We need to assess the big picture: where you are now, where you see yourself in the future, what you anticipate you’ll need and how you want to live your life. Forward thinking about how you want to spend your days will be helpful in determining the right living arrangement. It’s also important to consider how long you’ll be able to live in your next home and/or whether it’s just a stepping stone to when your needs change. This is a process that takes time, but making informed decisions while you have the time removes the stress of having to make choices under pressure or during a crisis.
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.
- CTV News -
- House Price Index -
- CBC -
- Financial Post -
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation -
- RE/MAX -
- Global News -
- CTV News -