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Sandra Bullock's sweet Georgia home for sale

Sandra Bullock’s sweet Georgia home for sale for $6.5M

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Sandra Bullock’s sweet Georgia home for sale for $6.5M

Oscar winner Sandra Bullock is not only diversified when it comes to the rolls she plays. Her highly successful film career has also given her the wealth to own almost any home she chooses, and she doesn’t choose like other celebrities who vie with each other to own the latest and greatest Hollywood pad.

In fact, Bullock has quietly been building a diversified real estate empire. She owns, rents out, sells and lives in homes and vacation homes from coast to coast. What many would say is one of the best is a secluded beach estate on Tybee Island, Georgia which she has owned for 18 years. A busy schedule has prevented Bullock and her two children from spending vacation time there, and she has decided to put it on the market, priced at US$6.5 million.

This property has an architecturally stunning main house and guest house on almost three acres made up of nine parcels, but also has private access to one of the prettiest white-sand beaches in the country. The estate has the capacity to sleep 12 in luxury and fun, with the large pool, games room, gym, a basketball court and private beach entrance.

Structures include the 3,360-sq.-ft. plantation-style main house with multiple screened verandas, double-height living room ceiling with beachy decor and a 2,848-sq.-ft. guest house with living room fireplace, a crow’s nest and an outdoor grill. Overall, there are seven bedrooms and six baths between the two buildings. The home is decorated with emphasis on white linen and wicker with a contemporary airy, beachy vibe and all furnishings, except for a few personal items, are included in the sale. Bullock has rented the estate as a vacation rental at US$1,400 a night with a minimum of a three-night stay.

Only 20 minutes to Savannah’s gourmet restaurants and unique shops, Bullock is selling her beach vacation compound on nearby Tybee Island, priced at $6.5 million. Co-listing agents are Ruthie Lynah Whitlow and Rachel Umreit of Celia Dunn Sotheby’s, West Charlton Street Office, Savannah.

Photos: Tybee Vacation Rentals

See the listing.


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First-time homebuyers catch a break with slowing home price growth

First-time homebuyers catch a break with slowing home price growth

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First-time homebuyers catch a break with slowing home price growth

We have some good news and we have some bad news, prospective homebuyers in Canada.

First, the bad news: According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey, home price growth in many of Canada’s real estate markets is slowing. This means, if you’re looking to buy a home, its value may not grow as much as it has recently. The good news, however, is that this same slowing price growth presents a window of opportunity for first-time homebuyers to get while you can.

The price of a home in Canada increased just 2.7 per cent year-over-year to $621,575 in the first quarter of 2019, Royal LePage says, well below the long-term norm of approximately five per cent. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 2.6 per cent year-over-year to $729,553, while the median price of a bungalow rose 1.1 per cent to $513,497. Condominiums remained the fastest growing housing type, rising 5.4 per cent year-over-year to $447,260.

Looking ahead to the second quarter, Royal LePage expects national home prices to stay relatively flat throughout the 2019 spring market, with the national aggregate price of a home increasing just one per cent over the next three months. Meanwhile, the housing markets in several larger Canadian cities have shown noticeable signs of slowing, with nearly half of the regions in Royal LePage’s Quarterly Forecast anticipating quarter-over-quarter price declines.

But these are national numbers, and as we’ve written before, there really is no such thing as a Canadian housing market.

But more on this later.

Silver lining

Early in 2018, Canada experienced the most significant housing correction since the 2008 financial crisis. Markets showed signs of recovery late in the year, yet the figures for early 2019 suggest that the market has once again slowed.

We are expecting this to be a sluggish year overall in Canada’s residential real estate market, with the hangover from the 2018 market correction and weaker economic growth acting as a drag on home price appreciation, balanced by lower for longer interest rates,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “There is a silver lining here. This slowdown gives buyers, and first-time buyers in particular, an opportunity to buy real estate in our country’s largest cities.”

In the federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in March, the Canadian government announced three new or enhanced housing programs. The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is a three-year, $1.25-billion shared equity mortgage program whereby the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) will co-invest up to five per cent of the purchase price of an existing home. Further, for the first time in a decade, there was an increase in the registered retirement savings plan withdrawal limits in the Home Buyers Plan. The increase, from $25,000 to $35,000, was the largest since the program’s inception in 1992. Finally, an additional $10 billion in financing over nine years was earmarked for the construction of purpose-built rental housing.

Real estate is local

Illustrating our point that real estate is local and not national, the GTA housing market is still showing healthy growth.

“The city of Toronto is still one of Canada’s fastest appreciating real estate markets,” says Soper. “Detached home prices are rising in line with inflation, but condominium prices are increasing at near double-digit levels as vertical living has become the primary new-build option in this growing, world-class city.”

Median home prices in Toronto rose 5.8 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019. Two-storey home prices and bungalow home prices rose 4.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent year-over-year, respectively, while condo prices rose 9.3 per cent year-over-year. The overall GTA’s aggregate home price rose 3.4 per cent over the same period.

Real estate values in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region continued to appreciate at a brisk clip, as local economies grew and workers from the GTA looked to trade commuting time for lower house prices. Niagara-St. Catharines, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge aggregate prices were up by 6.9 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively.


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Luxury condos coming to Scarborough with KSquare Condos

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Luxury condos coming to Scarborough with KSquare Condos

Kennedy Central in Scarborough is experiencing a major transformation in new city planning, and Kingdom Developments plans to be a key contributor with the launch of KSquare Condos.

“Our company’s international building experience spans over 20 years with projects ranging from infill enclaves that enhance already established neighbourhoods, to major developments that help to transform cities,” says Eric Jensen, Kingdom Developments’ vice-president, projects. “We are thrilled to enter the Toronto condominium market with KSquare Condos, and recognize the significance of being one of the first developments part of this already thriving area’s future transformation.”

Centrally located at Kennedy Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E., KSquare Condos will be at the heart of this neighbourhood that is naturally poised for a residential density boost. Future area residents will benefit from improved planned transit service with the proposed Line 2 East 6.2-km extension from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Centre Station.

With the existing Agincourt GO station to the north and projected SmartTrack and Sheppard East LRT stations nearby, being able to connect to downtown in minutes will make this area even more desirable. Drivers will also appreciate easy access across the GTA via Hwy. 401, which is directly adjacent to the south of KSquare Condos.

Designed by IBI Group with interiors by Tomas Pearce Interior Design, KSquare Condos will feature two sleek, elegant glass towers rising above a shared podium. The 34-storey east tower is slated to launch this spring, featuring one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom layouts.

Amenities will include what the company says is the largest private library and study area in a Toronto condominium. Additional shared facilities will feature a music rehearsal space, state-of-the-art gym, pet grooming space, kids’ room, 24-hour concierge, an expansive party with two dining areas and a stunning rooftop terrace offering stunning neighbourhood views.

The heart of the community will be a central square that will act as a meeting and gathering place for residents. KSquare Condos will also feature a linear park offering additional greenspace to the nearby 37 acres of public parks and urban trials.

To register for priority access, visit ksquarecondos.com

KINGDOM DEVELOPMENTS

For more than 20 years, Kingdom has brought its unique vision and perspective to communities around the world. With interests in real estate development, investments, property management, landscaping and modern agriculture, Kingdom is a broadly-based group of companies operating in Vancouver, Toronto and China. Its portfolio of accomplishments includes millions of square metres built and developed, including residential and commercial projects as well as entertainment complexes and conference centres.

kingdomcanada.com

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The Selby

The Selby sets a new design standard for luxury rental living

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The Selby sets a new design standard for luxury rental living

Photos courtesy of Tricon Capital Group

When it comes to interior design inspiration, there are the usual go-to sources we rely on when we are thinking of renovating or renewing our living spaces. The various HGTV shows, design magazines and blogs, Pinterest, boutique hotels, or perhaps, an actual, newly renovated home of a friend or relative you just visited set the inspiration wheels in motion. There are endless resources for the homeowner, but there is one place we don’t typically consider to look when dreaming and planning our refreshed spaces: rental suites…yes, rental suites.

The tables have turned

The Selby by Tricon House, is the first in a series of upscale, purpose-built rental apartment buildings that will spatter across Toronto’s downtown core. There are a few in the works, (57 Spadina Avenue in the city’s fashion district and Scrivener Square in Rosedale/Summerhill), with The Selby debuting in The Six last year in late November. Located at 25 Selby, it is set to redefine rental living with luxury apartments bordering the neighbourhoods of South Rosedale and Cabbagetown. Up until now, renters may have looked longingly to the various design options offered to homeowners (budget-permitting, of course) to totally transform their interiors. But now homeowners who are ready to upgrade their abodes, can find inspiration by the sophisticated design of this unique rental property in the heart of the city.

Raising the bar

The 50-storey tower offers suites featuring high-end finishes and appliances. “Thoughtfully designed and appointed purpose-built rental apartments have been a mainstay housing option in U.S. cities for years, says Gary Berman, president and CEO of Tricon Capital Group. “We are leveraging our experience in the U.S. and Canada to bring a new type of rental offering to Toronto. Our goal is to create communities that reflect the changing needs of a world-class city, to deliver buildings of exceptional quality, and to set the bar for a new type of city living.” All 502 apartments are meticulously edited to maximize space, curated with high-quality materials, which provide both a sumptuous and comforting feel. They partnered with notable brands and talented designers to offer this unparalleled environment with impeccable artistic details to bring their vision to fruition.

It takes a village

Starting with the kitchens and bathrooms, The Selby set their sights on a beloved lifestyle brand from Italy. “Tricon House paid very special attention to the design details and who they partnered with, and they chose to partner with Scavolini,” says Horia Gruia, president of Scavolini Toronto. The family-run, Italy-based company is the leader in kitchen design for over 50 years, and the company has been in Toronto for 15 years. It was the natural choice to build the luxury kitchens for all of The Selby’s one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, which also feature quartz countertops from Caesarstone. A household name in Italy, where houses are sold without a kitchen, and homeowners must furnish all the cabinets and appliances in their home, “this is the first foray in the rental market for Scavolini,” confirms Gruia, and the modular nature of the design allows for easy installation as well.

The Sax kitchen reveal

The Scavolini Sax kitchen was personalized and premiered in Canada at The Selby. It comes in two colour palettes: one light and one dark. The light scheme is comprised of Batista Oak and Mist Grey; the darker scheme is Calicoat Oak and Graphite Grey. The Sax is a combination of cross-wood texture in a matte finish, a modern, minimalist design with hardware on base cabinets only, not on the upper cabinets. The colour scheme was selected to reflect a distinctive, yet cohesive design esthetic from floor to floor of the building. “There are five or six layout kitchen designs in the building, but one floor has one colour scheme and the next floor will have the other,” informs Gruia. Sounds like a checkerboard or the perfect Instagram feed. All kitchens include a breakfast bar, stainless-steel appliances, induction stove, dishwasher, (and a wine fridge!), a stunning wall unit and matching accessories.

Preserving history

Award-winning and internationally recognized Toronto designer, Johnson Chou, was Tricon’s pick to design the suites, main lobby, including the common spaces for residents housed in the exquisite 150-year-old Gooderham mansion, which once was the dwelling of Ernest Hemingway when he wrote for the Toronto Star. This historical Toronto treasure was moved and lovingly restored for the project, and it now stands adjacent to the building for residents to enjoy the building’s amenities, which among others, include a 3,500-square-foot fitness centre, spa, and bistro, bar and lounge by Oliver & Bonacini.

Design authority

“We worked very hard to give designer Johnson Chou a profound understanding of what Tricon House meant and he successfully translated our brand esthetic in design,” says Chief Marketing Officer at Tricon House, Alexandra Blum. “For The Selby, it was a mixture of the vibrant geographical area, honouring the past and incorporating a very layered interior design, like rich caramel leather sofas in the mansion, cow-hide back chairs and a stunning copper chandelier in the lobby.”

Elevated lifestyle

The suites include oversized windows, which allow for plenty of sunlight, and walk-in closets with organizers that are conveniently located in between the master bedroom and bathroom. But beyond the design considerations, The Selby is about creating communites and mixed-use spaces. Blum believes that the design is just part of the formula that elevates lifestyle. “We put people first, and creating a sense of belonging is needed more than ever in this technology-obsessed, always-connected world.

As homeowners, I won’t elaborate on the impressive amenities and amazing city views of the Rosedale Valley for residents, we don’t want to incite rental envy as we busy ourselves with that unrelenting house maintenance checklist. It is nice to know though if life circumstances change, we can trade in our property for a rental suite without sacrificing high-quality design, and an added sense of community to bout!

Pièce de resistance

Back to design. Blum extols the importance of art, as a collector and as an experience. Seen as an essential element to enhance spaces, Tricon House partnered with EyeBuyArt, a local initiative, which offers residents access to a curated collection of beautiful works of art at accessible prices. They start at $250. “Tricon invested in art pieces for the lobby, mansion and spa, and we wanted to extend that to our residents at an affordable price point for their homes,” says Blum. A budget-conscious initiative in luxury rental is a nice touch. So perhaps for your next renovation or home improvement project, you can tear a page from the latest Toronto luxury rental suites for some design inspiration. Tried-and-true design, quality materials mixed in with some save-splurge decisions are what reno dreams are made of — no matter where you live.

Inspired by beauty in all its forms, Toronto-based RENO & DECOR editor Silvana Longo loves exploring current and upcoming design trends, or planning her next trip to Europe for more inspiration. writerbydesign.ca

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Lighten Your Laundry Load

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Lighten Your Laundry Load

As a productivity coach, my mission is to help people have more fun while getting things done, and laundry is no exception. In my holistic model for sustainable performance, Productivity CPR™, the R stands for Ritual. Why ritual? Because I think the word ritual can give a sense of honour to what can often be perceived as mundane.

Laundry never stops, so if we’re going to have to take care of it, I like to encourage ways to make it a lot less onerous. Read on to find ways you might even find yourself enjoying it!

Shift your mindset

Whether it be processing receipts or doing laundry, a task that one finds tedious can be elevated with careful thought. Think of your clothing as a tool to help you do what you want to do and to help you make the impression you want to make in the world. Doing laundry then becomes taking care of the clothes that take care of you. This shift in perspective can elevate laundry from a mundane task to an act of love and honour.

Fit laundry in virtually anywhere

If space is tight, in a spot only 24” wide, you can install the ventless, Smart All-In-One Washer and Dryer from Whirlpool, which as it sounds includes both the washer and the dryer in one machine! Not only does it save space, you don’t have to worry about switching clothes from the washer to the dryer. It also saves you time with its high-capacity dispenser, which holds up to 20 loads worth of laundry detergent. With the new Whirlpool app you can turn it on from anywhere. This allows you to start a load while waiting for your daughter to hit the ice at hockey practice and track progress while away.

Simplifying the process

Whenever you go into the laundry room typically your hands are full. What better way to make the laundry process even more seamless than to have a touchless light switch? Just walk into the room and the light switches on for you. It’s simple things like this that can help ease the chore of this everyday task. The Home Depot Canada has several options to choose from.

Keep collection easy

Make sure you have an easy way to gather laundry anywhere it collects. Bedrooms or a shared bathroom are ideal spots and there are a variety of sizes and shapes to fit any space. A corner unit is fun in a kid’s room if you want to make tossing laundry in the hamper a fun way to get kids involved in the process. Hampers now come in a wide range of finishes as well so you can find something to blend in with your decor. The handles on the hamper shown here make it easier to carry. I love the wide variety of options at Neatfreak.

Hang darks and delicates to dry

A foldable, yet very sturdy rack in narrower than usual dimensions means you can tuck drying laundry into a smaller space, and possible even out of sight. This rack from Canadian Tire is strong enough to hold not only clothes on the bars themselves as you would expect, but clothes on hangers along the edges as well increasing drying capacity.

Give yourself a treat

If you’re like me, in the winter months, your skin is dry. Add water, laundry and cleaning to the list and you have a recipe for dry, cracked skin. Why not have a luxurious salve on hand to use while doing the laundry, especially after any hand-washing, to keep your skin feeling soft and smooth? Made in Canada, from 80 per cent organic ingredients, toxin-free DermaCare Skin Salve from eScential Wellness will make you feel like you’re loving yourself a little bit and there’s nothing like given yourself a little love after some hard work.

Productivity Catalyst Clare Kumar inspires and guides busy people to live more organized, productive, healthy and fulfilling lives. As a Certified Executive Coach, productivity expert, experienced professional organizer, and mom of teens, she is excited to help others achieve sustainable performance and reach their potential.

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How to create a dependable laundry room

How to create a dependable laundry room

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How to create a dependable laundry room

As a mom, a lot of people depend on us. I recently worked with Alison, a firefighter and mom of five-year-old Gwen, who I had the pleasure of overhauling her laundry room. At work, people depend on Alison to help save lives, and at home, her family depends on her for countless things — so creating systems and spaces that allow her to reliably get the job done was the name of the game in this space.

First things first

No laundry room is complete without a washer and dryer. For this space, I chose Maytag’s Front Load Extra Power Washer and Dryer, which have an extra power feature. For the washer, the extra power button fights stains that dissolve best in hot water and in cold — all in one load. For the dryer, the extra power button helps get thick fabrics drier the first time by adding extra time to the cycle.

Tons of storage

Alison’s home is on the smaller size, so every single square inch of this space needed to count. I went with taller-than-average uppers from Ikea in a high-gloss navy blue for a look that is both modern and functional, allowing Alison to store detergent, cleaning supplies, towels and other necessities in arm’s reach. We also incorporated storage on the other side of the room with multiple drawers, and decorative shelving. This space doubles as a desk for Alison’s young daughter when not needed for folding!

Tons of folding space

Whether you are a Netflix-and-fold kind of person or not, I think a dependable laundry space needs to have ample counter space. In this space, I used butcher-block counters to provide a warm, textural contrast against the blue cabinetry and marble wallpapered walls that I found at https://anewall.com/. Installing a counter over a front-load washer and dryer is always a must for me as it provides a durable surface and creates a more built-in look to your appliances.

Space for hanging

I think one of the most overlooked functions of a laundry room is space for hanging clothing that needs to air-dry. Whether you use a folding wire contraption that allows clothing to lay flat, a rope that allows you to hang clothing, or hooks like I did right here, you definitely need to plan for this element so you can have the option for air-drying clothing.

Make it beautiful

I am a big believer that when a space is beautiful, we are so happy to be there, and this makes us super productive. So we utilized all KINDS of strategies to make this space just gorgeous. We wrapped a marble wallpaper along all the walls, we added gorgeous crown moulding, we added all kinds of teal accents that we found at Home Sense and just had so much fun with art, beautiful towels, and greenery.

Lisa Canning is a parenting, interior design and lifestyle expert in Toronto where she lives with her husband and seven children, ages nine and under.


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The Kohler, Wisconsin experience

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The Kohler, Wisconsin experience

Kohler, Wisc., a charming, historic village with about 2,000 permanent residents is the epitome of a company town. Originally called Riverside for its site along the Sheboygan River, it was officially rechristened the Village of Kohler in 1912.

Kohler the company was founded in 1873 by Austrian immigrant John Michael Kohler. The firm started off making cast-iron farm implements, fences, benches, and even crosses for cemeteries.

Kohler segued into plumbing in 1883 when the founder enameled the inside of a horse trough, added four cast iron legs, and sold it to a farmer as a bathtub. (As company lore has it, he traded the tub for one cow and 14 chickens.)

As the company has grown, so has the founding family’s role in and connection to its adopted home state. Two Kohler descendants, Walter J. Kohler, Sr., and Walter J. Kohler, Jr., served as the 26th and 33rd governors of Wisconsin. Today, the fourth-generation, family owned company is headed by John Michael’s great-grandson, David Kohler, who serves as president and CEO. David’s sister, Laura Kohler, is the company’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Stewardship, and Sustainability.

While central figures in the community, employees are fond of sharing stories about lining up at the local coffee shop with Kohler family members, and employees are so passionate about the company that many retirees lead guided factory tours during the week.

Over the years, the company’s product line expanded exponentially, including a wide array of toilets, faucets, sinks, bathtubs, showers, interior décor items, and beyond. In addition to a line of generators and small engines, the Kohler foundry produces parts for other large manufacturers including Ford and Caterpillar.

In 2017, then CEO Herb Kohler even launched Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates. Visitors can buy these artisanal chocolates from a charming shop in the village. Those looking for something with a little more kick can also pick up a bottle of Kohler Dark Chocolate Brandy.

One must-see stop on a visit to the town of Kohler is the Kohler Design Center. This 36,000-sq.ft. facility features thousands of displays of Kohler kitchen and bathroom products, including working showers and water-filled soaker tubs. The upper level features a series of inspirational “Designer Vignettes,” with rooms designed and decorated by well-known designers. Styles range from the Copper Cottage kitchen design by Kim Lewis, to Barococo Futurism a bathroom designed by Jonathan Adler that’s equal parts 18th-century late Baroque styling and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The basement level of the Design Center houses the Kohler Museum, allowing visitors to walk through the company’s earliest days making cast-iron products to the many innovations that Kohler has introduced in its history. Kohler celebrated its 145th anniversary in 2018.

Like most large North American industrial companies, Kohler did its part for the war effort during World War II, producing everything from shell casings to generators. Later, the company produced precision valves used in the Apollo space program. Some of that space age technology seems to have made its way into the current product lineup, including the futuristic Numi 2.0 toilet, with heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and self-sterilization.

Sports fans will want to make a pit stop for a selfie in a replica of Manchester United’s locker room. Kohler is an official sponsor of the globally renowned soccer club. When visiting town, where better to stay than the company’s own American Club hotel? The American Club was built in 1918 as living quarters for immigrant labourers brought over from Europe. But don’t mistake it for some squatters’ quarters. From day one the facility housed a pub, bowling alley, and a barbershop for workers. Since 1981 it’s operated as a boutique hotel, the only five diamond-certified hotel in the U.S. Midwest.

Some of the many dining options around town range from casual comfort food next to a massive fieldstone fireplace in the Blackwolf Run Restaurant, overlooking the 18th hole greens of the site’s two golf courses, to the four-star Immigrant Restaurant in the American Club where jackets are required “for gentlemen.”

With not one but two PGA-certified golf courses, Kohler is a holiday destination even for those with no interest in the latest designer fixtures. Blackwolf Run features two 18-hole courses and was named “Best New Public Course” in the country by Golf Digest when it opened in 1988. Nearby Whistling Straits also has two 18-hole courses, laid out on a 560-acre site along the Lake Michigan shore. Having already hosted the 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships, in 2020, The Straits course will host the Ryder Cup. Fore!

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Don’t panic about Canadian home sales dropping sharply in February

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Don’t panic about Canadian home sales dropping sharply in February

Canadian home sales dropped sharply in February 2019 from the previous month. But you likely don’t need to worry. Here’s why.

The latest statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that national home sales dropped sharply – 9.1 per cent – from January to February 2019.

Not only that, but the national average sale price fell 5.2 per cent, year-over-year.

Holy!

These are pretty huge and potentially scary numbers. Except that those refer to the national housing market, and there really is no such thing.

It’s a simple point that escapes many consumers: Real estate is local, and these days more local than ever.

What do we mean?

Well, the CREA, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) and other major real estate bodies are mandated to oversee the national market.

So, when CREA issues a release that says Canadian home sales are down by X per cent, or when CMHC reports the national vacancy rate is down for the second consecutive year – and major media report such headlines – people tend to worry.

You must remember, however, that when you buy a home, you don’t buy the national market. You buy one house, on one street, in one neighbourhood, in one city and region.

If you live in Ontario, Alberta’s ongoing oil industry struggles, which are pulling down home sales and prices in that province, aren’t likely to affect the performance of your market. Forget the national headlines. Drill down into what’s happening where you live.

Here’s why it matters

Examining CREA’s latest stats, actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was down 4.4 per cent to reach the lowest level for month of February since 2009. It was also almost 12 per cent below the 10-year February average. In BC, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, sales were more than 20 per cent below their 10-year average for the month.

In terms of prices, in BC, prices were down on a year-over-year basis in Greater Vancouver (-6.1 per cent) and the Fraser Valley (-2.8 per cent).

In the Greater Golden Horseshoe, however, benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in Guelph (6.8 per cent), the Niagara Region (6.5 per cent), Hamilton- Burlington (five per cent) and the GTA (2.3 per cent). Prices were little changed (up 0.2 per cent) on a y-o-y basis in Oakville-Milton, while in Barrie and District prices remain below year-ago levels (-4.3 per cent).

Further illustrating that market performance across Canada is – literally and figuratively – all over the map, prices were down by 4.4 per cent in Calgary, 4.5 per cent in Edmonton, 5.1 per cent in Regina and three per cent in Saskatoon.

But in Ottawa, home prices rose 7.4 per cent year-over-year, 6.2 per cent in Montreal and 1.6 per cent in Moncton.

The issues that exacerbate local market conditions – such as mortgage regulations – are worth paying attention to, however.

“For aspiring homebuyers being kept on the sidelines by the mortgage stress-test, it’s a bitter pill to swallow when policy makers say the policy is working as intended,” says CREA President Barb Sukkau. “Fewer qualified buyers means sellers are affected too. The impact of tighter mortgage regulations differs by local housing market and a professional realtor remains your best source for information and guidance in negotiating the purchase or sale of a home during these changing times.”

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Homebuyers head to GTA west… but don't ignore the east

Homebuyers head to GTA west… but don’t ignore the east

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Homebuyers head to GTA west… but don’t ignore the east

It’s not exactly earth-shattering news, since we’ve been able to observe the trend for the last few years, but a new report from ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada underlines just to what degree homebuyers are heading west.

West, as in Hamilton and Halton Region – Burlington, Oakville, Halton Hills and Milton.

In analyzing sales trends in nine Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) districts over the past five years, ReMax notes those areas captured 10.1 per cent of total market share in 2018, with a 2.3-per-cent increase over 2013.

The reasons are fairly obvious: The quest for homes at affordable prices. Indeed, this spillover effect has stimulated homebuying activity in most areas flanked by Toronto’s core and Hamilton. Burlington, in particular, soared between 2013 and 2018, with home sales almost doubling and average prices climbing 50 per cent to $769,142.

Builders of new homes also recognize the appetite for lowrise homes in the west.

But with such strong growth in Burlington, how long will this market remain an affordable option?

“The communities in the west will still be affordable compared to Toronto proper, but what we are going to see is a continued uptick in demand for more of the outlying communities like Brantford, Waterdown, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and even as far-reaching as London and Niagara,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlanti Canada, told HOMES Publishing. “What will really impact the growth of these markets, outside of availability and affordability, will be the underlying transit systems and investments in local economies, as people still have a need to be connected to the GTA core.”

But, Alexander also told HOMES Publishing, the window of opportunity to head west may be closing.

“As the west end of the GTA continues to see growth and price appreciation, a leveling effect will likely come into play (with the east region),” he says.

GTA east areas such as Durham Region may not have the same appeal as the west – currently. “The west end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers. In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

So, yes, prospective homebuyers, go west if you like, but also keep an eye on the east.


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Spice Girl Mel B's Hollywood home a scary good deal

Spice Girl Mel B’s Hollywood home a scary good deal

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Spice Girl Mel B’s Hollywood home a scary good deal

Mel B “Scary Spice” Brown has listed her West Hollywood home for sale for US$5.9 million. Brown gained fame and wealth as a member of the popular girl band, Spice Girls, from 1994 through 2000. The group hit the big time with their first album Spice, which immediately gained No.1 status in more than 17 countries, selling 30 million copies worldwide.

It was only the beginning of the group’s record-breaking success. Brown branched out on her own even before the group split in 2000 and continued her career as a solo artist, actress, author and even a judge on The X Factor in Britain and Australia, and America’s Got Talent in the U.S. Now divorced from filmmaker Stephen Belafonte with whom she co-owned the home since 2014, Brown and the Spice Girls are reuniting for a 12-performance reunion tour this summer.

Located in the Bird Streets neighborhood, legendary for its spectacular views and celebrity residents, the four-storey, 5,226-sq.-ft. home was built in 1928 and recently underwent a renovation. The sleek contemporary has ceilings up to 20-ft. high and massive glass walls that capture the views of downtown Los Angeles. Encompassing a total of four bedrooms and six baths, the entire fourth floor is devoted to the master suite with two of almost everything, including TVs, bathrooms, dressing rooms and private terraces. The lush suite also has both a refrigerator and microwave.

The main living area contains formal living and dining, chef’s kitchen, recording studio, fully-equipped gym, game room and family room. Rooms are sized for grand entertaining that can continue out to the pool-spa terrace with its outdoor kitchen, TV, firepit and lots of room for guests. In addition to updating the mechanical systems such as plumbing and electric, Brown and Belafonte also upgraded the digital “smart” system, which operates the entire house, including the fireplace. There is a four-car garage, and tall hedges and plantings provide total privacy.

The location also features celebrity neighbors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston and Keanu Reeves.

View the listing here.


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