All posts by Dave Gray

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DIY lawn tips for homeowners

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DIY lawn tips for homeowners

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For most homeowners, having a green, lush and patchless lawn is a symbol of responsibility, dedication to yard work, and a signal to your neighbors that your home’s interior is as well-kept as its outdoor spaces. Being marked as the neighbor with the browning, weed-infested lawn can be the vision of nightmares for those homeowners who pride themselves on a well-groomed front lawn.

Not only does a luscious lawn accentuate your garden, but it provides excellent outdoor space for your kids to blow off steam. To maintain this play-pad and lawn-game arena, it takes more than just planting some grass and hoping it grows. To achieve that widely coveted green lawn, you’ll have to give it some tender loving care.

Attaining that full and healthy lawn is a multi-step process. Lawn-care practices such as selecting the right type of grass for your climatic zone, picking great quality seeds, and watering go a long way in realizing your dream lawn goals. Below are some DIY tips that can help guide you through the process, so your lawn can be the talk-of-the-town (or, at least, the pinnacle of lawn-care success in your immediate neighborhood).

Choosing between sod and seeds

Whether you’re rejuvenating an old lawn or growing a new one, you may find yourself at a crossroads when choosing between sod and grass seed. Understanding the difference between the two and the unique benefits of each option sets a course of action for achieving your lawn goals.

Both start in seed form. Sod is simply transplanted from the well-maintained farms directly to your lawns. When choosing between the two, the convenience factor and your level of patience may influence your decision.

Advantages of raising your lawn from seeds

It’s cheaper to nurture your lawn from a standard grass seed than it is to purchase sod. Despite popular misconceptions, planting grass seed doesn’t require a green thumb. In fact, it’s a simple garden practice that even the most inexperienced homeowners can perform.

An upside of growing your lawn from grass seed is that you have a greater variety of grass types to choose from and intersperse in your backyard. The ability to customize your own grass variety is important, as the type of grass planted is the biggest determinant in how your lawn will perform. With seeds, you’re in control. You can assure that your grass germinates and matures in the same place, giving your grasses a chance to establish and develop healthy root systems.

Disadvantages of grass seeds

Since you’re the initial grower, seeds will require a lot more maintenance (such as constant irrigation). As the gardener and planter, you’re limited to specific time windows, as these grass seeds must be sown in peak growth times. These peak growth times will, ultimately, depend on grass types you handpick.

Unlike sod, you will have to wait for the seed to germinate, grow, and mature before you notice any sizable results. If you’re a homeowner who craves instant gratification, purchasing sod may be a better fit for your household.

Advantages of sod

For those homeowners who are interested in the instant results of sod application and want to transform their backyard overnight, you can purchase sod from your local sod farm or a nearby home improvement store.

After installing your sod, your lawn will appear thriving, mature, and well-nourished. Sod takes just a couple of weeks to be properly rooted on the site. Areas in your front or backyard that are prone to soil erosion can benefit immensely from sod applications, as these patches of sod act like a blanket and hold the soil in place.

With sod, you won’t be limited by restrictive planting times and peak planting windows. Sod can be installed at any time of the year, except during months of extreme heat.

Downside of starting with sod

Unlike grass seeds, fully-grown sod is very expensive. You may also have to hire a professional to install your sod to properly complete the job. Hiring a professional may be inevitable if you are physically incapable of performing manual labor or if your busy schedule doesn’t allow weekend projects like sod installation.

A poorly installed sod lawn has visible seams and bad rooting. You may face several challenges in transplanting the grass to your property if your yard’s conditions vary tremendously from the conditions of the farm where the sod was grown. Sod also has a narrow transplanting window. The ideal time for transplanting sod is no more than 24 hours after being cut.

Select the right grass type

There are lots of factors to consider when selecting the right grass type for your particular lawn. Different strains of grass perform differently under different climatic conditions. Depending on the grass type’s tolerance to warm or cool conditions, you’ll want to select a grass type designed to withstand the weather conditions of your neighborhood.

Some grasses are ideal for a lawn in warm regions, while others perform exceptionally in cold regions. Warm-season grasses, like Bermuda grass, do well in the summer heat and year-round warm climatic conditions. Cool-season grasses, such as ryegrass, fescues and Kentucky bluegrass, excel in the cool temperatures of spring, fall, and winter.

When choosing the best grass for your backyard, consider the purpose of your lawn, how much maintenance you’re willing to dedicate to your lawn, and other region-specific climatic and erosion factors. For more information on how to find the best grass type for your region, check out this helpful resource.

Purchase premium quality seeds

The key to a successfully established lawn is the use of premium quality seeds, best suited to your property site. The label on the seed package is an invaluable source of information for assessing how well-suited a seed is to your specific region. In the US, by law, all seed labels must be printed with 100% accurate information.

Quality seeds come at a higher price. When purchasing lawn seed, consider the germination percentage. Only purchase seed whose package label indicates a germination rate of 85 per cent and above. You can tell the amount of non-seed material in the package by checking the percentage of inert matter. This should be less than two per cent. The weed percentage is the total weight of all weed seeds and should ideally be no more than 0.5 per cent. Noxious weeds like quack grass shouldn’t be present in your seed bags.

Manage irrigation wisely

Lawn grasses spike in growth when watered deeply in less frequent intervals. This ensures the roots are deep, so the grass is not susceptible to drought conditions. With a good sprinkler system, you can grow healthier grass and still save money, by reducing water consumption.

Some grasses require less watering and are, therefore, ideal for the inaccessible and hard-to-water areas of your lawn. While the watering schedule may vary with the seasons, it’s important to always accommodate the requirements of your lawn.

Besides boosting the curb appeal of your home, a flourishing lawn can help establish a welcoming environment for potential houseguests, the occasional visitor, and all backyard barbeque attendees. Once your lawn is rooted or your sod is applied, you can invest in a deck, an in-ground pool, or you can hire a team of contractors to build the front deck of your dreams.

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Our economic recovery will be led by building and development

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Our economic recovery will be led by building and development

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canada, Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area, and my heart goes out to residents of the GTA who have been affected or lost loved ones to this terrible virus.

Millions of people were let go from their jobs and the economy has all but ground to a halt. As governments at all levels begin to look at recovery, they will need to focus on the GTA. Our region is the heart of Canada’s economy, accounting for 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP and 50 per cent of Ontario’s GDP.

The residential and commercial building and development industry, and the professional renovations industry, are major contributors to economic activity in the region. Collectively, they employ more than 360,000 people in the GTA, paying $22 billion in wages and generating $42 billion in investment value annually. Our industry is well-positioned to play a significant role in the recovery of our region, Ontario, and Canada. Working with our colleagues at both the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders’ Associations, we have put together a roadmap for simple changes that can have a big impact.

Our industry submitted a report to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee that includes 19 recommendations to all three levels of government to get our economy back on track. These recommendations will create an immediate and significant impact to consumers and businesses, and will involve little to no new money from government. Proposed measures include suspending the Canadian mortgage stress test, transferring mortgage tenancy to the date of occupancy for new condominiums, eliminating security deposits for the Ontario land transfer tax on affiliated transfers, and freezing municipal increases to property tax reassessments and development charges. Many people have lost their jobs in all sectors of the economy.

Many projects have been delayed, constraining consumer and industrial/commercial liquidity. Government coffers are also not bottomless, which is why they need to focus on liquidity and freeing up funds that would otherwise be stuck in such things as municipal agreements (refundable deposits paid by developers) and replacing them with surety bonds. These changes can be transitory until such time as we can all fully adjust to the new normal, or when a vaccine for the coronavirus is widely available.

Other suggestions include reinstating home improvement tax credits for homeowners to support ageing-in-place improvements or energy retrofits. In the past, these programs have paid for themselves, since they cut out the black and grey renovation market.

I encourage you to read the full report at bild.ca and support us as we work toward recovery in the GTA, Ontario and Canada through residential and commercial construction and professional renovation.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

bild.ca

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COVID-19 already influencing new home and condo design – experts

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COVID-19 already influencing new home and condo design – experts

COVID-19 is challenging all kinds of things about life in Canada – including the way we live and work. Our panel of experts share their insights on the new home and condo design changes already taking place.

M2M Spaces, Aoyuan Canada
Photo: M2M Spaces, Aoyuan Canada

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Broccolini

COVID-19 has transformed our homes into our offices, classrooms, gyms, and playgrounds. Our homes need to encourage physical and mental health. To support the growing roles of our homes, flexibility in design will be key. For remote workers, we’ll need to prioritize flex spaces which offer natural light, plus acoustical and visual privacy to maintain separation between work and homelife.

Building amenities such as the coworking space offered in Broccolini’s River & Fifth and upcoming LeftBank projects can make this possible for residents with less space. For material selection, we’ll continue to prioritize durability and cleaning ease, incorporating choices such as quartz countertops and porcelain tiles in residences and amenity spaces.

Megan Collins
Design Manager, Broccolini
Toronto
broccolini.com

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Dunpar Homes

There’s no question that moving forward people will continue to work from home if they’re able to, and that decision will greatly affect how people choose to design their new homes or condominiums in this new normal. Our space will have to be very functional, livable and afford us the room we need to work. There will be great emphasis on building out multi-purpose rooms that have the ability to work smarter for us and take full advantage of square footage.

There’s great power in good design. A living room equipped with bookshelves and a console table could function as an office, whereas a guest bedroom could also have built-in desk and storage solutions to offer the same value. It’s less about dedicating a specific room as an office and instead making certain rooms offer dual functions.

Lisa Rogers
Executive Vice-President
Design
Dunpar Homes
Etobicoke, Ont.
dunparhomes.com

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Flato Developments

Flexible spaces are a great way to reconcile livability with affordability. In response to the working- from-home reality, we have started exploring the idea of co-ownership condo suites with a shared flexible zone that would allow two potential owners to share a home office space.

In multi-unit condo design where space is typically very efficient, we are looking beyond the four walls of each suite in order to find flexible and cost-effective design solutions through cost sharing. We think shared indoor and outdoor amenity areas with generous, strategically located flexible spaces designed with functionality, wellness and technology features would be very marketable. This way, a potential buyer might opt to pay more to buy into a building where there are options to work from home, but not always within the confines of the walls in his condo suite.

Eduardo Ortiz, for Flato Developments
Principal, Architecture Unfolded
Toronto
architectureunfolded.ca

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Gairloch Developments

We have been seeing the trend in work-from-home increase over the past decade. Urban professionals long to eliminate a commute to gain more time for family and personal pursuits. There is also a desire to work in a more informal environment with comfort of home conveniences. Our clients are looking for uncluttered living spaces, timeless design and large windows affording views and plenty of natural light.

We understand that a condominium amenity space is an integral part of a building. A well-designed amenity should remain flexible, be attractive to many and facilitate future ways that we will work and inhabit our homes. At our 1414 Bayview project, the flexible amenity space is realized within a series of grand rooms, including a large communal table, for formal and informal lounging and working.

Our firm believes that a well-designed living space continues outdoors. Private, open-air retreats remain a top priority for our clients, especially in these unprecedented times. Several of the upper units at 1414 Bayview have access to large private terraces which will allow for outdoor lounging, entertaining and even working, from the comforts of home.

Stephanie Vermeulen & Kelly Doyle
for Gairloch Developments
Sixteen Degree Studio
Toronto
gairloch.ca

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Georgian Communities

An open concept floorplan has generally been the defining characteristic of new home design for years. The possibility of the new norm remaining suggests that flexible private areas such as home offices, gyms and playrooms with acoustic insulation are no longer a luxury but a necessity. In lowrise homes, functional finished lower levels offer additional space at an affordable price while eliminating impact to main floor principal rooms. Extensions to the outdoors from traditional living spaces will become more valued. Enlarged windows, covered porch and patio areas, walkouts when possible all help provide a sanctuary without leaving the home.

Danielle Jaques
Interior Design Coordinator
Georgian Communities
Barrie, Ont.
georgianinternational.com

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Heathwood Homes

In the new reality of a COVID-19 world, more people will be working from their home. This isn’t necessarily new, it’s just going to become so much more prevalent now.

In most homes, the trend towards the more open concept designs over the last decade does allow for flex space on the ground floor, but that same design comes with distractions in the form of noise and other people.

The easiest solution would be to carve out some “office space” in an existing bedroom or the basement area where daytime distractions would be minimized.

Bedrooms can be modified to have a desk niche, in lieu of a closet or have a murphy bed setup that allows for lots of additional daytime space. Also, in some homes, the laundry room could be moved to the basement, and that space becomes ideal office space.

Of utmost importance is that you have your Internet connections and modems of the highest speed and quality – so that you can ensure connectivity everywhere in the house. That way you can move around the home as needed – so that morning meeting can be had with a coffee on the front porch. Good technology is key.

Bob Finnigan
Chief Operating Officer
Acquisition & Housing
Heathwood Homes
Toronto
heathwood.com

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Minto Communities

Within condos, technology must be elevated to offer keyless entry, parcel drop-off and virtual platforms which can keep residents connected. Amenities should include breakout rooms and pods that facilitate continued amenity independent use, with greater emphasis on easily disinfected surfaces. There will be value to designs that can prioritize private outdoor spaces, and offer provisions for full-time work/study for multiple people, separating work and personal life within a single space.

We must use the events of COVID-19 to think about the resilience of systems and spaces, without losing track of the importance of designing spaces that promote well-being through community and connection.

Matt Brown
Director, Product Development
Minto Communities
Toronto
minto.com

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National Homes

Remote work spaces can take many forms. In larger homes, a dedicated office can work for one or two members of a household. For smaller homes, an alcove off a hallway with pocket doors for audible separation, similar to an office cubicle, may be all that is needed.

Glass partitions can be incorporated to allow a parent to keep an eye on their little ones, while still having a noise separation. If distractions in the home are not an issue, the main living space can be used as a flex space. Built-in desks with accessible outlets, such as National’s signature “Family Centre,” can be the perfect space to work from.

Wayne Cassidy
for National Homes
Principal
Cassidy and Co. Architectural Technologists
Ajax, Ont.
cassidyco.com

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In Conversation With Vince Santino, Senior Vice-President of Development, Aoyuan Canada

GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19 recovery

The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

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How to navigate the mortgage process during COVID-19

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How to navigate the mortgage process during COVID-19

Over the last few months, we’ve seen our world transform at the hands of a global pandemic. We’re living in very different times where meeting face-to-face isn’t really an option. Despite the new reality, the priority of taking care of our personal finances is one thing that hasn’t changed.

When it comes to getting a mortgage, there’s no shortage of demand right now. In addition to those looking to refinance or switch to the very low rates available, there are many Canadians who purchased homes before the pandemic who are looking to get approved. Further, the real estate market is beginning to heat up again, therefore mortgage demand is expected to rise even further. The good news is that despite the current situation, there are great options available to apply for a mortgage without having to leave your home.

In the face of COVID-19, operations and procedures across the mortgage industry have been forced to adapt and do business virtually. With many large financial institutions not exactly built for online, this has lowered efficiencies and increased wait times for many customers. Traditional brokers are also facing this dilemma. Many of them don’t have the infrastructure to facilitate the mortgage process outside of their offices, which has prompted a shift toward mortgage technology companies. For example, we have seen a 400-per-cent increase in site visits over the last three months.

Mortgage tech companies are a popular choice and have been resilient because they were already built to streamline the process digitally, while still having advisors to support clients throughout the process. People are looking for contactless options and these companies have been able to deliver an efficient way to get a mortgage without delays, and often get a better product than they would get with more traditional solutions.

Regardless of the route you choose, here are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to refinance, switch or apply for a new mortgage during this time:

1 – Looking to buy a home soon?
Get pre-approved. All this extra time on our hands has many people reassessing their personal finances and starting to plan for the future. There’s been a massive uptick in people getting pre-approved; it’s an important step and allows prospective buyers to search for a home with confidence, understand what they can afford and lock in a mortgage. To get pre-approved, contact a broker, call your bank or apply online with a digital mortgage company.

2 – Prepare your documents in advance.
Whether you’re looking to refinance, switch or apply for a mortgage, you’ll need to have the right documents on hand. Get a head start and organize all your paperwork to speed up the process later on.

3 – Shop lenders for the best mortgage.
Going from one bank to the next to find the best mortgage isn’t something you can easily do right now. So, one of the best ways you can shop around is to either call a broker or use a digital mortgage company. What’s great about these companies is that they’ll do the shopping for you, so you can find the best mortgage option without having to leave your home.

4 – Expect lenders to be tighter.
The financial downturn caused by COVID-19 alongside the heavy increase of unemployment has led many lenders to be slightly tougher about the application process. Finding an unbiased mortgage advisor will put you on the right path from the start. They’ll give you a full picture of the mortgage options and lenders available so you’re not out there spinning your wheels to get approved.

5 – How to close.
If you’re going to go digital with your mortgage, why not bring the rest of the process online? Regardless of what you’re applying for, you’ll need property insurance and a real estate lawyer for new purchases. Sonnet Insurance allows you to get multiple quotes and buy property insurance online, while Deeded facilitates the entire legal process through video chat. Both of these options are especially helpful in an era of social distancing, enabling you to do everything online from your own home.

The current conditions have really emphasized the advantages of tech companies and how they’ve changed the marketplace, especially when it comes to navigating the mortgage process. They are fully equipped to deliver services virtually and efficiently, helping you find the best mortgage and save money over the long term.

In the end, it’s important to know that there are solutions available and that you don’t have to worry about social distancing restrictions keeping you from getting the best mortgage for your needs.

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Jesse Abrams is Co-Founder at Homewise, a mortgage advisory and brokerage firm based in Toronto. thinkhomewise.com

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In Conversation With Vince Santino, Senior Vice-President of Development, Aoyuan Canada

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In Conversation With Vince Santino, Senior Vice-President of Development, Aoyuan Canada

Talk about making a statement. Chinese builder Aoyuan International doesn’t exactly dip its toes into the waters of global condominium development. With signature projects in Sydney Australia, Vancouver, Hong Kong and now Toronto, Aoyuan goes all out.

M2M, Aoyuan’s first development Toronto, is located in a prominent neighbourhood in North York – Newtonbrook. Located just north of the Yonge and Finch transit hub, this master-planned community is a statement, indeed, with easy access to the subway and GO Transit, and dining and shopping hot spots.

When completed, the 8.6-acre community will be a fully integrated neighbourhood designed for living, working and playing. Five towers and two podiums will host a total of 1,650 residential units, as well as hundreds of thousands of square feet of office and retail space, a community centre, children’s daycare, and even its own greenspace for a future park.

Condo Life sat down with Vince Santino, senior vice-president of development, to get a sense of how M2M is coming along, and what’s next for Aoyuan.

How’s business these days, in these unprecedented days of COVID-19?

While we experienced a temporary pause at our construction site, we’ve been pleased to see things begin to pick up again more recently. When the COVID-19 preventative measures were at their strictest, we saw this as time to get involved with our neighbourhood more deeply. Times like these are opportunities to support others, and especially as a newer member of the North York community in Toronto, we felt strongly that we should do what we can to help our most vulnerable neighbours. To support the North York community, we donated $25,000 to the North Harvest Food Bank, and we encourage our peers to do the same in their neighbourhoods. Since then, we’ve launched M2M Spaces, the newest inventory from the master-planned M2M community.

How has the market reacted to construction being allowed to resume, and things beginning to ease up? Are buyers running back? Are you seeing pent-up demand…?

Initially, when Ontario began its lockdown, we saw buyers exercising caution when it came to buying new real estate – and understandably so, there were restrictions placed on all of us, and a lot of uncertainty. Now, we’re starting to see homebuyers come back and new sales since launching M2M Spaces, which shows us that there is still demand for great products and home offerings in Toronto and surrounding GTA communities.

How has the pandemic affected your plans for releases at M2M? Are things progressing as planned, phases being delayed…?

While we experienced some delays and pauses initially when Ontario was under the strictest lockdown measures, we have been very fortunate to get things running smoothly again, though we have had to make adjustments to ensure the health and safety of our team, construction sites, and sales centres. Our first few releases at M2M experienced an initial sellout, and we released the latest inventory (in early June). M2M Spaces includes two- and three-bedroom townhomes and tower suites.

What has the pandemic taught Aoyuan in terms of project sales or planning… using virtual sales techniques and so on?

Though we have always offered virtual signing opportunities, we have had to pivot to use these tools more frequently and earlier in the sales cycle and with a wider range of customers. Our M2M sales centre is being prepared for scheduled visits, with the intent for all visitors to adhere to all social distancing guidelines. We are setting up a video walkthrough and live stream presentation for our M2M Spaces model suite. Brokers and potential buyers can also utilize a cloud-based presentation system to view project information, our 3D building model and compare floorplans from the comfort and safety of their home.

Are you making any design changes at M2M to address changing consumer demands? Say, for example, more “working” spaces built into homes as a result of an expected increase in people working from home?

At Aoyuan, our philosophy has always been centred around living healthy lifestyles and building homes that allow its residents to do just that. To us, that includes giving residents options to make their homes fit their personal needs. We have always prioritized this and will continue to do so, which we know will be appreciated by homebuyers as our communities continue to evolve. Since we’re all at home much more nowadays, our M2M Spaces offering comes at a great time for prospective homeowners with its flexible and functional floorplans. These residences are great options for multigenerational families and working parents, with added features and amenities to suit their lifestyles. For instance, we’re proud to offer features such as our smart glass technology, which is an extremely beneficial feature for residents working from home. By simply flipping a switch, residents can change the transparent glass panels to transform to opaque, allowing for added privacy or increased concentration. You’ll find this feature in a variety of suites throughout M2M.

What other fundamental changes do you foresee as a result of these unprecedented times?

It’s tough to speculate on the future while we are still in the thick of things, but we can definitely see the increased importance of green and outdoors spaces for city dwellers who don’t necessarily have access to backyards as you would in the suburbs. We will continue to prioritize amenities like this because we know the importance of our connection to nature as well as the importance of being able to use greenspaces for socializing, playing sports, or just relaxing. We’ll also want to keep the idea of flex spaces which can be used as at-home offices or playrooms as families seek to make the best use of their homes.

M2M won the 2019 BILD People’s Choice Award. What did that mean to Aoyuan Canada?

As newcomers to Toronto, we were very excited to receive this recognition. We felt that it reinforced and recognized the work we were doing specifically in Toronto and the GTA. When we began working in this city, we handpicked the team to make our approach hyperlocal to the area. By working with experts who understood the nuances of Toronto’s development landscape, we were able to respond to the community’s wants and needs. Our approach was clearly successful, as evidenced by our People’s Choice win. I’m truly looking forward to the opportunity to showcase the excellent work our team has done in this award-winning community with this latest release of M2M Spaces.

What’s next for Aoyuan Canada?

Tightly connected with our Vancouver team, we see numerous opportunities in both cities and we are not limited ourselves to any specific type of development. Our immediate focus here in the GTA is M2M. We’re really excited to see how buyers respond to our new townhomes and exquisite tower suites. Because M2M is a multi-phased development, we’re staying focused on the subsequent launches still to come in this vibrant new community. There are some really incredible amenities for future residents to enjoy, such as a courtyard terrace, an infinity pool, a dog spa and business centre. We really designed this community to make it simple for residents to get everything they need at home.

And on a personal note…

If I wasn’t in the homebuilding industry, I would:

Pursue a career as a World Class Barista somewhere in Europe, making people happy with every cup of hand-crafted espresso!

My greatest inspiration in this industry is:

Our resilience. As an industry, especially here in the GTA, the “box” we work in is always changing and it forces us to be dynamic as a group, and I am inspired when I see great and practical solutions come to life via some of the best developers in the world in the form of vibrant communities – communities where people who come from all walks of life can truly live, work and play. It’s a testament to how our industry responds to market forces and how well it works with all levels of government and regulatory agencies.

When I’m not at the office, I am:

Walking! On a GTA golf course with friends and colleagues as much as I can… a great way to enjoy the outdoors!

aoyuaninternational.com

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Outdoor lovers love condos

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Outdoor lovers love condos

If you are an active person who loves the outdoors and think you have to live in a lowrise home to be happy, think again! Condominiums offer ample opportunities to stay active and enjoy being outside without ever leaving the building.

First, today’s condominium suites have extra-large windows that bring the outdoors in on a daily basis. Gorgeous city, tree and/or lake vistas help to keep condo residents grounded, no matter what floor they live on. And then of course, there are balconies where residents can place outdoor furniture and planters to grow everything from flowers to herbs and tomatoes. Unless you plan on growing giant pumpkins, gardening is no longer the exclusive pastime for people in lowrise homes with backyards.

On a more public level, new condominiums feature gorgeous common areas that offer outdoor recreation and enjoyment. Landscaped courtyards at ground level are perfect for sitting in the sun using a personal electronic device or even … gasp … reading a paper publication. Oh, and sipping on a coffee or tea enriches that experience.

In the buildings themselves, you may find any number of other outdoor or indoor/outdoor spaces such as Zen gardens and yoga areas. Rooftop terraces are beautiful and exciting. Discover barbecues, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, loungers or pools; the possibilities are fascinating. Imagine sitting and lapping up the views under a clear blue or dramatic evening sky.

As for the keeping active part of the condo lifestyle, that begins at ground level with location. Today’s new condos are situated close to amenities. Residents can usually walk or ride a bicycle to run a variety of errands or dine out or visit attractions or shop – you get the picture. In the City of Toronto, condos are are required to contain a certain number of bicycle parking spots to accommodate this healthful trend.

Then, of course, there are fitness facilities in most, if not all, new condominiums – and they are so well equipped that residents can give up expensive gym memberships. They can throw on some workout clothes, take the elevator to the fitness room, exercise and then go back to their suite without braving the weather or having to start the car. Today’s state-of- the-art fitness rooms have high ceilings, massive windows and elaborate equipment. Some even enable team sports in a gymnasium, and many have Pilates/yoga areas or climbing walls. They may include change rooms, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, plunge pools and/or swimming pools to vary the experience. Keeping active is so important to people today, that some condominium corporations are hiring recreational coordinators to organize classes and events. Who needs a commercial fitness club, when you have all of this right at home?

Whether you prefer a brisk walk, a vigorous weight workout, an energetic aerobics class, a feel-good yoga session, basketball game, swim or some green-thumb bending and stretching, in a condominium, the fulfillment of your exercise needs is at your doorstep.

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Should real estate agents invest in Facebook or Google Ads?

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Should real estate agents invest in Facebook or Google Ads?

Royal LePage
Photo: Royal LePage

Sponsored Content

It’s a tough world out there. As the world becomes a global village and embraces tech-friendliness, real estate agents might wonder if they’re slowly losing relevance as a real estate agent. Unless they get on this fast-moving train.

If you’re a realtor and you’ve decided to promote your real estate business online, you may be wondering whether to use Facebook or Google Ads to market your services.

This is where your search ends; here, we offer some valuable tips on how to select the right marketing platform.

So, Google or Facebook? Let’s dive into that!

The basics – lead classification

The essence of online marketing is generating leads, right? With marketing, you gain awareness for your brand and ideally convert leads into paying clients. From your clients, you can get positive reviews for your business to further strengthen your brand. All of this starts with gaining leads and nurturing them effectively. However, before you begin seeking out leads through Facebook or Google Ads, you need to establish some facts:

What should be the intent of your lead?

You must quickly figure out which leads are interested in taking immediate actions, and which platform they typically use. With this knowledge, you can then channel your energy into the right platform. For example, a lead that checks land transfer tax in Toronto is likely buying a property in Toronto.

Know your lead acquisition cost

Your lead acquisition cost (LAC) is the net cost spent on getting a single lead. If the total cost expended on getting one lead surpasses how much the customer brings into the business, you would be at a loss in the long term. This is why you must choose a marketing channel with a lower LAC.

Types of leads

Classifying leads based on age, city and other demographic information would help create a superb online strategy. For instance, you may be searching for specific real estate leads in Canada – rather than in the U.S. Another way of segmenting leads is based on their ability to afford the kind of property you’re offering.

After lead segmentation, you can then decide which of Google Ads or Facebook would better position you to find the right leads.

Online leads are classified into three broad categories: Buyer leads, seller leads and agents.

Buyer leads

Buyer leads are individuals that are ready to strike the deal and get that house. If you are targeting these kinds of leads, you should make Google your preferred marketing channel.

Why? When a person performs a Google search, it shows an already bloomed interest. So, we have found Google to be the best when it comes to intents such as this. A similar benefit of using Google Ads is the ability to target a specific region. For instance, if your aim is lead generation in Canada, you can make that extremely succinct on Google, while still getting leads that are ready to strike the deal.

Seller leads

Seller leads are individuals who are looking to lay off their property. Similar to buyer leads, seller leads would preferably make a Google search rather than wait for a selling opportunity to appear on their Facebook timeline.

While traditional marketing teaches us to approach potential customers, online marketing allows us to be approached by ready-to-buy customers. And, this is exactly what you do with a Google Ad.

Agent leads

These include leads who are acting on behalf of customers. In this regard, Facebook Ads would likely be more productive. Why?

With Facebook, you can target customers – agents in this case. And, this is a huge advantage.

The bottom line

So, should you use Google Ads or Facebook? Your choice should depend on:

  • The kinds of lead you are targeting
  • The lead acquisition cost for each channel, and
  • Which channel offers you the best lead segmentation

While Google Ads are generally more effective for buyer and seller leads, Facebook ads are preferable if you’re targeting agent leads.

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Condo Life – July2020

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Condo Life – July2020

Condolife, launched in 1998, continues to be Toronto’s finest and most comprehensive guide to the condo market and lifestyle.

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Building Excellence – Summer 2020

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Building Excellence – Summer 2020

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Easy ways to decorate your student dorm room

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Easy ways to decorate your student dorm room

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In normal, pre-COVID-19 times, university students spend a lot of time in their dorm rooms, so sooner or later, even the most comfortable environment bores and starts to annoy. A person’s mood much depends on the place where he or she lives, so if you’ve noticed some changes in your mindset and behavior, consider making amendments in your interior. Before you begin, you should ask the corresponding authority permission to change the room because the rules of some colleges and universities prohibit it.

Finding inspiration is also a challenging task, so explore the following student room ideas, select the most appealing ones and make your room look more beautiful.

1. Change the wall color

You may paint the whole room or choose one wall to change its design. If you’re good at painting, you may create a picture on your wall. It may become the perfect background for photoshoots, so be sure that all your neighbors will like it. It’s the easiest way to refresh your room, but it takes time. That’s why we advise you to type in the search query “Help me with my science homework” and find the expert who’ll help you to deal with assignments.

2. Hang up a light string

Stop thinking that this decor is relevant only during Christmas. You may order an RGB diode strip that can change the colors and create a neon light to make your room look more futuristic and modern. Or give preference to calm and light colors that won’t distract the attention.

3. Buy a poster

The image doesn’t matter. It can be your favourite motivational quote, the portrait of a favourite actor, or the poster of the movie. Your task is to fill in some free space on the wall, and the picture is the best way to do it.

4. Place a full-length mirror

It’s not only the cool room decor for college students but also a useful thing. When you’re selecting the outfit for the day, you need to see yourself in full growth to understand whether the clothes match or not. Free some place for it in any part of the room and enjoy this decor.

5. Use an organizer

If you have a lot of stuff and don’t have a place to store it, it’s better to buy an organizer. This item lets you place cosmetics, textbooks, office supplies, jewelry and other little goodies. They are quite cheap and look stylish, so organizers can easily decorate your dorm room.

6.Create a photo wall

You surely have a lot of photos of your family and friends that remind you about the great times. Capture the moment and print them out, who knows what will happen to your phone. Place the photos under your bed in any order to keep these moments in memory.

7. Write a schedule board

If you’re not used to having a planner and mobile apps are also inconvenient, creating a schedule and hanging it over the desk is a great way to keep track of things. Students have lots of duties and work to do, so forgetting about important events is natural. Likewise, many of them forget about their assignments and miss the deadline. If you face such a situation, the best solution is to ask Google, “I need to pay someone to do my homework online,” and use the proposed options.

8. Lay a cosy carpet

Those people who adore sitting on the floor will appreciate this idea. Buy a nice shaggy carpet to make your floor warmer. Having this thing will let you organize the workspace right on the floor. Gather your friends and play games while sitting on the floor, if your bed is too small to accommodate all people.

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