By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

These days, people are more environmentally conscious. When it comes to their homes, that often starts with being more thoughtful about heating and cooling so they’re consuming less energy. With that in mind, here are some tips for making your home more eco-friendly: 


1. Install a smart thermostat. Modern thermostats come with various features that help you manage heating and cooling, so you use less energy. For example, you can program a thermostat to adjust temperature during the workday and then turn on heating or cooling an hour before you get home. 


2. Take advantage of non-peak times. Many utilities (electricity, water, etc.) offer price breaks at non-peak periods. For example, washing your clothes later in the evening might reduce your water bill. Ask your utility providers about available price-saving programs. 


3. Buy energy-saving products. A wide range of products are available to help you lower energy consumption, from shower faucets to kitchen ranges. The next time you’re shopping for an appliance or fixture, ensure it has eco-friendly features. 


4. Improve insulation levels. A one-inch crack in window insulation can cause your home’s HVAC system to work harder. That’s why experts advise that you check the insulation around doors and windows once a year and repair or replace it where necessary. 


5. Manage passive heat. It’s no surprise that a window letting in the sun will make a room warmer. So, take advantage of this free energy source. Let sun into rooms on cool days, so your furnace doesn’t have to come on as often. Do the opposite on hot days. 


We are well-connected to clients and professionals who are capable of providing a plethora of eco-friendly recommendations. Call us today to get you in touch!

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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

At some point, every home needs to be upgraded to become more functional for the family members who live there – or for resale. However, a major renovation can be frustrating, unless you’re working with a reliable, knowledgeable general contractor. Here are some suggestions to help make your project go smoothly:


1. First, do your homework in advance. Identify needs and wants, such as design features and style, with an open mind about costs, timing and resale value.


2. Ask reliable sources for recommendations, but don’t make commitments without interviewing at least three qualified contractors.


3. Be sure to ask about;

  • Adherence to budget and timing as well as advice on expectations.
  • Find out about their choices for architectural drawings or plans, subcontractors, suppliers and materials.
  • Confirm the product and labour warranties they provide.
  • Ensure each contractor is registered in good standing with your municipality and can adhere to building codes, secure permits and provide liability protection.


4. Once satisfied, request that these and other details be included in a quotation with costs, completion dates, payment schedules for workers and materials, plus allowances for changes.


5. Meet on-site regularly, keep a journal and get receipts for purchases. Don’t pay cash, or hand over your credit card. If necessary, ask your bank to issue a new card with strict limitations.


When in doubt, reach out to us! We have a well vetted list of general contractors we stand behind who would gladly help you get your home through that next reno.


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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

When you’re selling your home, you may find buyers who want to see it later in the evening, when it’s dark outside. In that circumstance, effective home lighting becomes more important. 


The best place to start is with exterior lighting. Make sure all pathways are cleared and lit.


Do you have motion-detection lighting? Make sure those are set to continuous lighting. It can be jarring for a buyer to be hit with an unexpected beam of bright light when walking to your door.


Also, check the brightness of exterior lights. If they are bordering on blinding, replace the bulbs with lower-wattage options. Inside the home, keep curtains and other window coverings open. Although it may be dark outside, an unobstructed window will help make the room seem more inviting and spacious.


Turn on your full lighting system in the backyard. Make that outdoor space enticing for buyers to check out. 


If you have dark areas in your home, such as a basement room or walk-in closet, explore ways to light it better. 


Overall, you want the lighting to help buyers see and appreciate the best qualities of your property. 


Want more advice on selling your home? Call us today.


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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

Time to get ahead of the curve and plan for potential home renovations that not only will make your space more comfortable, freshen it up and could very well increase the overall value of your home when it comes time to sell. While you're Boxing Day browsing, consider these areas of your home, and see if they need updating.


Update an outdated bathroom


For an easy yet high-impact renovation that will make your home more appealing, update an outdated bathroom. "Bathrooms add value because they're the first room you go to in the morning, and the last room you go to at night". If you don't have the budget for an entire bathroom overhaul, focus on the areas that are subject to the most wear and tear. For high-touch items, focus on materials that you'll love, such as floor tile and fixtures. If you're looking for a way to save money, bathroom technology is here to stay, but for now, it could be limited or considered for a future time.


Upgrade the kitchen with modern appliances and finishes



Certain kitchen renovations can have a huge impact on the retail value of your home. Custom cabinetry really helps sell a house, especially if the drawer and cabinet inserts have been designed to assist in organization. Also, look to upgrade your appliances, as people will gravitate towards a kitchen with higher-end appliances (plus you'll get the benefit of using them).

For a low-cost kitchen upgrade that will leave a lasting impression, update your backsplash or countertops with fresh materials or finishes. The kitchen is the heart of the home and making it as up-to-date and beautiful as possible will always help you in the long run.


Preserve interesting architectural elements


If you have an older home with unique architecture, preserve the structural integrity as much as possible. There is nothing wrong with making your space feel more modern, but do your best to hold on to the character of the space. Switching out hardware and original light fixtures are fine, but if your house has original crown moulding or incredible original floors, look for ways to preserve these details so they feel modern but also remain authentic.


Renovate an underused area of your home


If you have an unfinished basement or attic, converting it into a livable space can make you loads of money in the long run. Transforming an under-utilized space, such as an attic or basement, into a home office, extra bedroom, or playroom is a great way to add square footage to your home without enlarging the actual footprint. This will also increase the value of your home.


Create an outdoor oasis


Investing in your home's outdoor space is every bit as beneficial as an interior renovation. Outdoor spaces are more than ever important for the emotional well-being and the health of the family. Creating an outdoor space for dining, entertainment, relaxation, and play can supply emotional benefits that have far greater value than the financial investment made.

By designing an area that functions as a room outside the home, you can essentially create additional living space. Consider adding a patio, or completing a porch renovation that allows for outdoor furniture and ambient lighting. This way, you can create an outdoor oasis that feels like an extension of your home.






Source: MarthStewart.com

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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

The winter season is drawing near which means sub-zero arctic-like temperatures, icy conditions, and a whole lot of snow. That's why it's time to start thinking about how to protect your home from any potential damage the frigid temperatures and snow may bring. Taking charge now, before it is too late, may help you avoid a home insurance claim later.


Winter home preparation guide

By the time winter arrives, your home should be ready for whatever could potentially cause you a big headache. There's nothing worse than having to deal with a leaky window, broken furnace or a burst pipe in the middle of winter. These eight tips and tricks will help prevent any unfortunate winter mishaps or water damage.


1. Have your furnace professionally serviced

A routine maintenance check each Fall will help ensure your furnace is running properly and efficiently. Also, if you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable one to save money on heating costs.

2. Inspect all windows and doors for leaks

In order to prevent heat loss, make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed. Check the weather-stripping around windows and door frames, and replace where necessary. Also check for drafts and caulk both inside and out where necessary, to keep the heat in and the cold out.

3. Sweep the chimney

Before you use your fireplace, make sure the chimney and vents are clean and in good condition by having your chimney looked at by a professional. This will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide from building up and finding its way into your home.

4. Clean out your gutters

It's important your eaves are free of any debris such as leaves, dirt and sticks. Clogged gutters prevent the draining of rain and melting snow which could result in household leaks. Also, make sure your downspouts extend away from your house by at least five feet to ensure that water runs away from your house and not towards it.

5. Inspect the roof

While cleaning your eaves, inspect your roof for any missing, loose or damaged shingles. If your roof needs attention call a roofer to help you with the repairs or maintenance. Also ask them to look at the caulking around the chimney and air vents.

6. Turn off any faucets outside

Water left undrained can freeze, which can cause the pipes to burst. Disconnect your garden house and drain the remaining water.

7. Trim your trees & hedges/bushes

Make sure any overgrown bushes or trees are trimmed back away from your house and electrical wires. This will help decrease your risk of property damage and power problems.

8. Insulate exposed pipes in unheated areas

This is an easy and inexpensive method to help prevent water damage resulting from a frozen pipe. Even the smallest of pipes can cause a lot of damage. Pipes in the basement, attic or crawl space are some examples of pipes you may want to cover.

Taking the time to winterize your home is a small price to pay especially if it helps prevent damages. Now is also a good time to stock up on all the winter essentials too including salt, sand, and snow shovels. It won’t go to waste and you’ll need them before you know it.





Source: InsuranceHotline.com


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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

A list of family Halloween activities & adult Halloween events/parties in and around Ottawa.


Fright Fest

Experience 5 immersive Haunts including The Coven, Haunted Hayride, The Barn of Terror (New!), Shambles, The Cemetery Crypt (NEW), a new stage show plus Street Theatre, and farm-fresh food & craft beverages served on our beautiful patios. Also new this year- The CiderHouse taproom featuring wood-fired pizza and Saunders Cider.

  • September 24 to October 31, 2022
  • Saunders Farm, 7893 Bleeks Road, Ottawa
  • $45 & up

Acres of Terror

Cannamore Orchard welcomes you to our 30th year of Acres of Terror, Eastern Ontario’s Most Terrifying Halloween attraction! We are proud to present this in co-operation with the students from École SecondaireCatholique Embrun. Acres of Terror has four main components: The Spooky Wagon Ride A tractor pulled wagon ride on our 60 acre property narrated by a real witch or warlock.

  • September 30, 2022 to Sunday October 30, 2022
  • Cannamore Orchard,1480 County Road 32, Crysler
  • $18 to $34

sKreamers

sKreamers is a fundraising project of the Kiwanis Club of Orleans. Local residents and rival farmers have long suspected that something unnatural has been happening out at the Proulx Farm in Orleans, with reports of blood-curdling screams, a foul stench, unexplained power outages, and inexplicably lush & large crops.

  • October 1 to 31, 2022
  • Proulx Maple & Berry Farm, O’Toole Road, Cumberland
  • $20/victim

Stittsville Haunted Heritage Tours

Let’s take a stroll, shall we? A tour down the archives of legends and lore; of whispers in the night. Each Friday and Saturday in late September, October and November why not spend an evening of the fifth season of Stittsville Haunted Heritage Tours. Just like last year, the new season is selling out quickly, for good reason.

  • September 24 to November 5, 2022.
  • 1549 Main Street South, Ottawa
  • $22.04

The Sawmill at Lansdowne

In 2008, the City of Ottawa began demolition of the south-side Grandstand at Lansdowne Park. After the dust settled, workers were astounded to discover a hidden world under the debris. A team was called in to investigate. They excavated an untarnished lumber site from more than a century prior. Then they made a disturbing discovery… a lost colony of Millworkers from early Bytown days who have not had outside contact for more than a century.

  • October 7 to 31, 2022 | 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM
  • Lansdowne Park, 1525 Princess Patricia Way, Ottawa
  • $25 to $30 +charges

Watson's Mill Haunt Nights

Explore Watson’s Mill as it turns spooky with 3 level haunted house.

  • October 20 to 22 | 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
  • Watson’s Mill, 5524 Dickinson Street, Manotick
  • $7

Pumpkinferno

Take a tour through this spectacular outdoor art exhibit of 7,000 handcrafted pumpkins all lit at night along a kilometer-long path in a picturesque 19th-century backdrop.

  • Until October 30, 2022
  • Upper Canada Village – 13740 County Rd. 2, Morrisburg
  • $20

Toddlers' Halloween Hunt

Come dressed in your favourite costume and explore a 100,000-square-foot underground museum with your little ones. Search for stations throughout the bunker to find treats, crafts, and other fun activities. Keep an eye out for hidden Halloween surprises along the way!

  • October 26 to 28, 2022
  • Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, 3929 Carp Road, Ottawa
  • $7 per person; Children 5 and under are free


Halloween Hijinks


Revel in the mischievous spirit behind many Halloween traditions at Cumberland Heritage Village Museum! Join us for Halloween Hijinks as we explore illusions, embrace our inner pranksters, and celebrate all the weird and wonderful spectacles of the season with family-friendly activities and demonstrations.

  • October 29 & 30 from 10 am to 4 pm.
  • Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, 2940 Old Montreal Road, Cumberland
  • $21.50 per group
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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

Being financially responsible is an important life skill to have and it is never too early to start. So, why is your credit score important?

Lenders want to have an idea of how your credit was in the past, to determine how well you are likely to handle it in the future. They will gauge from there how much they are willing to lend you, and at what rate.


Here's some tips to get you started:


Check your credit score

If you haven’t done so already, get your free annual credit report, or have your financial institution check your credit score. 

*TIP*

Get a copy of your credit report every month and correct any mistakes you find.

If you believe that the information in your credit report is incorrect, contact the credit reporting agency and your financial institution. If the financial institution says that the information reported is correct but you are still not satisfied, you can submit a brief statement to the credit reporting agency. If the error came from your financial institution and the institution will not correct the error, you can file a complaint with the institution.

Why check your credit report

Your credit report is a record of how well you manage credit. Errors on your credit report can give lenders the wrong impression. If there's an error on your credit report, a lender may turn you down for credit cards or loans, or charge you a higher interest rate. You may also not be able to rent a house or apartment or get a job.

Errors can also be a sign that someone is trying to steal your identity. They may be trying to open credit cards, mortgages or other loans under your name.

Take a close look at your credit report at least once a year to see if there are any errors.

Errors to watch out for on your credit report

Once you get your report, check for:

  • mistakes in your personal information, such as a wrong mailing address or incorrect date of birth
  • errors in credit card and loan accounts, such as a payment you made on time that is shown as late
  • negative information about your accounts that is still listed after the maximum number of years it's allowed to stay on your report
  • accounts listed that you never opened, which could be a sign of identity theft

A credit bureau can’t change accurate information related to a credit account on your report. For example, if you missed payments on a credit card, paying the debt in full or closing the account won't remove the negative history.

Negative information such as late payments or defaults only stays on your credit report for a certain period of time. 

Check your credit report for fraud

Look for accounts that don't belong to you on your credit report. Accounts that you don't recognize could mean that someone has applied for a credit card, line of credit, mortgage or other loan under your name. It could also just be an administrative error. Make sure it's not fraud or identity theft by taking the steps to have it corrected.

If you find an error on your credit report, contact lenders and any other organizations that could be affected. Tell them about the potential fraud.

If it's fraud, you should:

  • contact Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada to inform them about the fraud
  • ask to put a fraud alert on your credit report
  • report it to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on fraud and identity theft.

Add a fraud alert

A fraud alert, or identity verification alert, tells lenders to contact you and confirm your identity before they approve any applications for credit. The aim is to prevent any further fraud from happening.

Ask the credit bureaus to put a fraud alert on your credit report if:

  • you've been a victim of fraud
  • your wallet has been stolen
  • you've had a home break-in

You may need to provide identification and a sworn statement to prove that you've been a victim of fraud.

You can set up a fraud alert for free with Equifax. TransUnion charges a fee of $5 plus taxes to set up a fraud alert. 

Fix errors on your credit report

You have the right to dispute any information on your credit report that you believe is wrong. You may ask the credit bureaus to correct errors for free.

Step 1: Support your case

Gather receipts, statements and other documents related to your credit accounts. You may need them to prove your claim.

Step 2: Contact the credit bureaus

Both Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada have forms for correcting errors and updating information. Fill out the form to correct errors:

  • Equifax
  • TransUnion

Before the credit bureau can change the information on your credit report, it will need to investigate your claim. It will check your claim with the lender that reported the information.

If the lender agrees there is an error, the credit bureau will update your credit report.

If the lender confirms that the information is correct, the credit bureau will leave your report unchanged.

In some provinces, the credit bureau is required to send a revised copy of your credit report to anyone who recently requested it.

Step 3: Contact the creditor

You may be able to speed up the process by contacting the creditor yourself about the error. The creditor is the company you owe money to. Ask them to verify their files and provide the credit bureaus with updated information.

Step 4: Escalate your case

Ask to speak with someone at a higher level at the credit bureau or at your financial institution if you're not satisfied with the results of the investigation.

Federally regulated financial institutions must have a complaint-handling procedure to help resolve disputes between consumers and their financial institutions. This procedure includes a third-party dispute-resolution body.

Step 5: Add a consumer statement

If the credit bureau confirms the information is accurate but you're still not satisfied, submit a brief statement to your credit report explaining your position. It's free to add a consumer statement to your credit report. TransUnion lets you add a statement of up to 100 words, or 200 words in Saskatchewan. Equifax lets you add a statement of up to 400 characters to your credit report.

Lenders and others who review your credit report may consider your consumer statement when they make their decisions.

Make a complaint about a credit bureau

You may choose to make a complaint about a credit bureau.

Complain directly to the credit bureau

Escalate the issue if required

If you feel that a credit bureau has not treated you properly, you may file a complaint. This complaint can be made in writing to your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office. The federal government does not regulate credit bureaus.


You can get a copy of your credit report by mail for free, or online for a fee. The only way to obtain your credit score is online. There is a fee with the following sources:


Equifax Canada

National Consumer Relations

P.O. box 190, Station Jean-Talon,

Montreal, Quebec   H1S 2Z2

Toll-free: 1-800-465-7166

TransUnion Canada

TransUnion

Attention: Consumer Relations

3115 Harvester Road, Suite 201

Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N8

Toll-free: 1-800-663-9980



Improve your credit score

If you have had a low credit score in the past, you can improve it by using credit more carefully. Eventually, your score will improve, and it will be easier for you to get credit.

  • Pay your bills in full and on time: At least pay the minimum amount shown on your statement. Set up automatic payments to ensure that your bills are paid on time.
  • Don't go over the limit on your credit card: Keep your balance low—below 35 percent of your credit limit if you can. The higher your balance, the more it affects your credit score.
  • Don't apply for credit too often: Too many lenders asking about your credit in a short period of time can lower your credit score.
  • Pay off your debts as quickly as possible
  • Build a strong credit history: You may have a low score simply because you don't have a long credit record. You can improve your score by using a credit card—and paying it off on time every month.
  • Check your credit report about six months in advance if you plan to make a major purchase that will require you to take out a loan, like buying a house or a car. This will give you time to correct any possible errors and improve your score.


Monitor your payment history

Your payment history is the most important factor for your credit score.

To improve your payment history:

  • always make your payments on time
  • make at least the minimum payment if you can’t pay the full amount that you owe
  • contact the lender right away if you think you'll have trouble paying a bill
  • don't skip a payment even if a bill is in dispute


Use credit wisely

Don’t go over your credit limit. If you have a credit card with a $5,000 limit, try not to go over that limit. Borrowing more than the authorized limit on a credit card can lower your credit score.

Try to use less than 35% of your available credit. It’s better to have a higher credit limit and use less of it each month.

For example:

  • a credit card with a $5,000 limit and an average borrowing amount of $1,000 equals a credit usage rate of 20%
  • a credit card with a $1,000 limit and an average borrowing amount of $500 equals a credit usage rate of 50%

If you use a lot of your available credit, lenders see you as a greater risk. This is true even if you pay your balance in full by the due date.

To figure out the best way to use your available credit, calculate your credit usage rate. You can do this by adding up the credit limits for all your credit products.

This includes:

  • credit cards
  • lines of credit
  • loans

For example, if you have a credit card with a $5,000 limit and a line of credit with a $10,000 limit, your available credit is $15,000.

Once you know how much credit you have available, calculate how much you are using. Try to use less than 35% of your available credit.

For example, if your available credit is $15,000, try not to borrow more than $5,250 at a time, which is 35% of $15,000.


Increase the length of your credit history

The longer you have a credit account open and in use, the better it is for your score. Your credit score may be lower if you have credit accounts that are relatively new.

If you transfer an older account to a new account, the new account is considered new credit.

For example, some credit card offers come with a low introductory interest rate for balance transfers. This means you can transfer your current balance to this new product. The new product is considered new credit.

Consider keeping an older account open even if you don't need it. Use it from time to time to keep it active. Make sure there is no fee if the account is open but you don't use it. Check your credit agreement to find out if there is a fee.


Limit your number of credit applications or credit checks

It’s normal and expected that you'll apply for credit from time to time. When lenders and others ask a credit bureau for your credit report, it’s recorded as an inquiry. Inquiries are also known as credit checks.

If there are too many credit checks in your credit report, lenders may think that you’re:

  • urgently seeking credit
  • trying to live beyond your means


How to control the number of credit checks

To control the number of credit checks in your report:

  • limit the number of times you apply for credit
  • get your quotes from different lenders within a two-week period when shopping around for a car or a mortgage. Your inquiries will be combined and treated as a single inquiry for your credit score.
  • apply for credit only when you really need it


“Hard hits” versus “soft hits”

“Hard hits” are credit checks that appear in your credit report and count toward your credit score. Anyone who views your credit report will see these inquiries.

Examples of hard hits include:

  • an application for a credit card
  • some rental applications
  • some employment applications

“Soft hits” are credit checks that appear in your credit report but only you can see them. These credit checks don't affect your credit score in any way.

Examples of soft hits include:

  • requesting your own credit report
  • businesses asking for your credit report to update their records about an existing account you have with them


Use different types of credit

Your score may be lower if you only have one type of credit product, such as a credit card.

It's better to have a mix of different types of credit, such as:

  • a credit card
  • a car loan
  • a line of credit

A mix of credit products may improve your credit score. Make sure you can pay back any money you borrow. Otherwise, you could end up hurting your score by taking on too much debt.


Consult a financial advisor

Show your current stats to a financial advisor of choice and ask them to help you with a financial plan for the future. Take this day to invest in your future self.

Contact us for recommendations on financial advisors.




Source: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

An Easy, No-Fuss Thanksgiving Dinner

Are you hosting Thanksgiving for the first time? Hosting family and friends can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide that will help things go smoothly even if you're a rookie.



Make a Schedule

The key to a stress-free Thanksgiving is to plan ahead. Stick to a schedule to avoid any major hassles. We recommend the schedule below for Thanksgiving week:


Monday = Inventory


Tuesday = Shopping


Wednesday = Cooking


Thursday = Assembly + Reheat Food




Take Inventory

Take inventory of everything you have, including serving pieces, baking dishes, place settings and cutlery. Depending on how many guests you have, you may need to buy or borrow additional pieces.



Text Your Invite

Our motto for Thanksgiving first-timers is, "Choose the easy way." Skip the hassle of sending out formal invites, and send your guests a text instead. Try Punchbowl app, which has great seasonal holiday invites to choose from.




Spend Time on Prep to Save Time Later

Plan out your menu, and spend sufficient time on prepping all recipes to make things easier on Thanksgiving day. For a simple meal, stick to just the classics - turkey, roasted veggies, cranberry sauce, stuffing and dessert. Warm things up with a fall soup like curried butternut squash with fried sage.



Set the Table

On Thanksgiving morning, tackle setting the table. If you knock this off your list first thing, you won't have to give it a second thought the rest of the day. Add simple yet intricate details, like fresh sage wrapped in twine at each place setting.



Display a Candle Centerpiece

Arranging flowers is timely and costly. Skip the flowers, and display candles you have on hand instead. Incorporate texture by placing eucalyptus leaves in small vases, and place throughout your tablescape.



Make Easy Appetizers

A bruschetta bar is one of the easiest (and most delicious) appetizers. Place different spreads, such as cheese, olive, roasted tomatoes and feta salad, on a tray, and pair with crackers.



Set Up a Self-Serve Drink Station

Set up a self-serve drink station to avoid constantly refilling your guests' drinks. Provide cans of wine instead of bottles to avoid messing with a corkscrew, and offer non-alcoholic options like apple cider and sparkling water.



Give Everyone Their Own Bread Basket

Use little silver buckets to make mini bread baskets for each guest. This will prevent you from passing around or refilling a larger bread basket during dinner.



Partially-Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Maybe you have time to make cranberry sauce from scratch, but you most likely don't have the time. Make a partially-homemade sauce by mixing fresh or frozen cranberries with a can of cranberry sauce. Garnish with orange peel for color contrast.



Easy Roasted Veggies

Roasted veggies are a great item to include on your easy menu. Use one pan to roast a combo of your favorite fall vegetables. We combined and roasted colorful potatoes, carrots and radishes with butter and fresh thyme for 30-40 mins.



Cook Your Turkey the Day Before

Cooking a turkey is usually the biggest challenge for a Thanksgiving first-timer, so we recommend tackling it the day before Thanksgiving. Then, just set aside some time on the day of to reheat it. If you aren't up for cooking your own turkey, order a pre-cooked one from a local market, add fresh herbs and lemon slices and put it on your own serving platter. We won't tell your secret!



No-Bake Mini Pies

These cute pies don't require a recipe or any baking time. To make, buy pre-made pies from a local gourmet market, and cut out mini versions with a 2" biscuit cutter. Top with whipped cream.



Encourage Your Guests to Take Leftovers

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers, so share the leftover love with all your guests. Set up a take-out station with inexpensive and grab-and-go containers or use berry containers from the grocery store.

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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

Home ownership remains a top priority for many Canadians. While buying a home is seen as a milestone and can improve your quality of life, most are hoping that their purchase will also be a sound financial decision. A recent study[1] has found that, for those who are able to secure a sufficient down payment, it is more financially beneficial to buy a home in Canada than to rent over the long term, in 91 per cent of cases analyzed. The scenarios assume the owner is able to provide a 20 per cent down payment.

“Canadians strongly value home ownership for many reasons. Not only is it a great source of pride, it is likely the largest and most significant financial investment most people will ever make,” said Karen Yolevski, chief operating officer, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. “Historically, home ownership has been very profitable for Canadians, many of whom have factored their real estate investments into their retirement planning. Owning a home is widely viewed as a means to save money and build equity.”

The study, by economist and housing market analyst Will Dunning, and sponsored by Royal LePage, uses price data for 278 scenarios (broken out by city and housing type) across the country and approaches the commonly-asked question ‘Is it better to buy or rent?’ from various angles – using historical data, future projections, and viewing home ownership as an investment.

“For many people, buying a home – especially the first – is a landmark event and one of the most challenging decisions we’ll make in our lives,” said Will Dunning, president, Will Dunning Inc. “It is a decision that  is usually based on a lot of hard work. This research tests a belief that is held by a lot of Canadians, that owning is better financially than renting. And, it finds that this belief is very often correct.”

While the total monthly costs of owning a home may be higher than renting, there is an important factor to consider. Mortgage payments comprise principal and interest, and the principal component can be seen as a form of saving, albeit forced saving. While the homeowner has to pay the full amount each month, the principal is not a true cost. What’s more, the interest component is largest in the first month and gradually decreases over the life of the loan, effectively increasing the amount of forced saving each month.

In 253 out of 278 cases studied (91%), the net cost of ownership (the total ownership cost minus the saving that occurs through principal repayment) is lower than the cost of renting. In the report, this factor is referred to as the ‘ownership advantage’. As of the second quarter of this year, on average the net home ownership cost was $769 per month less than the cost of renting an equivalent dwelling. In the nine per cent of scenarios where renting was more beneficial than buying, cases were concentrated in luxury homes in expensive neighbourhood pockets. Moreover, the monthly savings were minimal for this demographic at $245.[2]

“While Canadians do want their homes to appreciate, potential homebuyers will find it reassuring that significant price appreciation is not necessary for ownership to be financially worthwhile,” said Yolevski. “There are other benefits to owning a home, in addition to the financial advantages. Owning a property allows more freedom and stability than renting. As a homeowner, you do not have to worry about the landlord hiking up the rent or forcing you to move. And, homeowners have the ability to make a place their own, with renovations or decor. I believe most Canadians would agree that owning a home is as much about laying down roots in a community and making memories with family, as it is about financial security.”

The study tested various scenarios. This includes a mortgage renewal in five years, at an increased interest rate (3.62%, which is based on the highest interest rate seen during the study period from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the present). Even in that scenario, home ownership is expected to remain more affordable than renting in most situations.

“Although supply has reached historic lows and home price appreciation continues to trend upward, the findings of the report show that owning a home remains financially advantageous for most people. However, all Canadians would benefit from swift and material government action to solve the country’s housing supply crisis,” added Yolevski.

To varying degrees, Canadians think of their homes as an investment, and not just a place to live. The study calculated how home ownership might perform as an investment, making varying assumptions about how much values might change during the coming 10 years. The calculations found that even with a 10 per cent decline in home prices, approximately half of the homeowners studied would still see a positive rate of return on investment, while the other half would break even or see a modest loss as an investment.[3] If there is no growth in values, ownership would result in a positive rate of return on investment in a majority of cases. Other scenarios in which values rise show increasingly attractive rates of return. 

The analysis includes assumptions about the costs of buying and selling homes (closing costs, lawyers’ and real estate agents’ fees, and land transfer taxes), and the major ongoing costs incurred by homeowners (utilities, repairs, homeowners’ insurance and condominium fees, where applicable).

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By: Beth & Andrew | Home Team

Although it might not feel like it at the moment, fall and cooler temperatures are on the horizon. Summer’s reach may seem to extend into September, but before we know it, leaves will begin to fall, the wind will start to pick up, and sweaters will become a necessity.

Before fall hits in full force, consider taking care of the following home maintenance items. These are simple chores that can go a long way in protecting your home and your family during the cooler months. Completing them now, while they are less of a hassle, as opposed to in the future when you may be faced with turbulent weather and other obstacles, is a smart move.


Gutters

It’s a good idea to clean your gutters or eaves every few months. Dirt and debris can easily accumulate in these spaces over time, preventing water from properly flowing through them. Gutters exist to collect precipitation and move it away from the home. When rain can’t move through your gutters it will spill over onto your roof, which can cause leaks and water damage. Long story short, cleaning your gutters regularly can save you a lot of money and frustration.


Cracks/Windows

If you don’t seal foundation and window frame cracks in your home, you may notice autumn’s cooler temperatures sooner than your neighbours. Caulking cracks not only helps to keep warm air in and cold air out, it also helps protect your space from rodents looking for a winter home. Fall is the time when our furry frenemies start looking for places to survive the winter. Help make sure you aren’t unsuspectingly sharing your space by sealing cracks – or as rats/mice see them: entryways!


Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. Here’s why: it’s really important! These devices save lives, yet they are so easily overlooked. To help make sure they’re functioning properly, they should be tested every month, and their batteries should be changed twice a year. 

Pro Tip: Change your smoke detector batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving’s time. It happens twice a year, and you’re already going around your home resetting the clocks – it’s the perfect time to get it done.


Organizing Storage

Seasonal changes are the perfect time to get some organizing done. As you put away your summer clothes and bring your jackets and boots out of storage, why not switch other storage items around? You can restructure your storage spaces to bring upcoming holiday decorations to a more accessible spot, and move summer stuff to the back. It’s also a great time to assess your stuff. What summer items did you use or wear this season? What stayed on the shelf? Get rid of unused or unwanted items while the memories are fresh, instead of during spring cleaning when you’re excited about the potential of using/wearing these things during the warmer weather.



Once your maintenance is complete, it’s time to update the inside of your home for fall. Happy Fall Y’all!




Source: Ottawa Fall Home Show blog

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