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Friday, 25 January 2013

The best place to watch the game?


Super Bowl: ‘Home Is Where the Game Is,’ Survey Says

“For millions of Americans who tune in, it’s not just about the game and the commercials, it’s about getting together with friends and family in the home,” says Bev Thorne, chief marketing officer of Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “This game represents the last great American campfire, and we thought it’d be fun to take a look at the role the home plays in what has become an iconic cultural event.”
Century 21's survey of adults uncovered these nuggets among others:
  • Nearly nine in 10 Americans say home is the best place to watch the Super Bowl. The majority of those surveyed plan to watch the Super Bowl at either their home or a friend or family’s home rather than at a bar or restaurant. 
  • 66 percent say they plan to watch the game at a “home” because it’s a more comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. Nearly 60 percent say it’s important for them to be able to find a comfortable seat at home. 
  • 76 percent of Americans who plan to watch the game say they prefer to watch it in their pajamas or comfortable clothes (a more common response among women).
  • 46 percent say that cleaner bathrooms are another benefit of watching the game at home. 
  • 52 percent say the quality of the television with its size and resolution is important in throwing a successful Super Bowl party at home. 
  • 42 percent of the adults surveyed say they plan to supplement their viewing of the game by using their mobile devices, such as checking sport news apps on their phone or tablet for additional commentary. 
Source: Century 21 Real Estate LLC

Friday, 11 January 2013

Protecting Your Home While You're Away This Season

Protecting Your Home While You're Away This Season 

Cold winters often prompt many to head for sunshine, sandy beaches and warmer climates. In the excitement of exotic locales and getaways, finding your bathing suit and making sure to pack your sunscreen typically takes priority over residential maintenance issues. However, these areas are important.
1. Turn Down Your Water Heater: Changing the setting on your water heater while you're out of town can help reduce overall costs and energy consumption. New models usually come equipped with a "vacation setting" to help easily facilitate this maintenance tip. If your unit does not have this feature, simply adjust the unit to its lowest setting to achieve the same results. We encourage homeowners to avoid completely turning it off as restarting it when you return may require a technician - a bit of a headache, especially when you're jetlagged.
2. Lower Your Furnace Temperature: Having your furnace on but at a low setting will keep temperatures in your home consistent, while saving money and energy. We recommend keeping it above 15 degrees Celsius or 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It's important to ensure that your furnace remains on to prevent freezing water, burst pipes and flooding.
3. Close Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve: While this may seem very conservative, shutting off the water prevents serious flooding if your furnace breaks down and the water in your pipes freezes. The main shut-off valve controls all the house water and is typically readily accessible near the front of the basement. Since this valve is not used regularly, it may be stiff and in some cases will drip when it is closed. Don't leave this task to the last minute in case you need a minor repair. 


4. Add Water to Your Basement Floor Drain: The floor drain includes a trap to prevent sewer gases from backing up into your home. When plumbing systems aren't being used over an extended period of time, the water in the trap evaporates, resulting in unpleasant and unhealthy sewer gases entering the home. We recommend pouring water down the drain to fill the trap before going on vacation to ensure the trap water doesn't evaporate while you're away.  
5. Close Dampers on Wood Fireplaces and Stoves: A damper is a flap which allows smoke from a fireplace or wood burning stove to go up the chimney. While the damper has to be open when there is a fire burning, we recommend closing the damper while you are away to reduce heat loss and prevent pests from getting in your home. 
6. Secure Your Home: Ensure your doors, windows and any other access points are locked. Cancel your newspaper and have your mail picked up by a friend or neighbor. Setting lights on timers make it look like the home is occupied. 

Source: Carson Dunlop

Saturday, 5 January 2013

This is one for my Kids

25 Napping Facts Every College Student Should Know

It's almost cruel the way adults ease children into life outside of the house. They got us on board with the whole going to school thing by letting us take naps in pre-school. But then, come kindergarten, no more naps! Nothing but 12 more grades of trying to focus all day without a siesta. But now, friends, it's a new day. In college you have two-hour chunks of free time between classes, just aching to be filled with some snooze action. And every now and then, a nap might take priority over going to class. For those times when you can't decide which road to take, think back on some of these facts about napping, and we're confident you'll know what to do.

  1. It makes you smarter

    According to Dr. Matthew Walker of the University of California, napping for as little as one hour resets your short-term memory and helps you learn facts more easily after you wake up.
  2. Abandon all-nighters

    Foregoing sleep by cramming all night reduces your ability to retain information by up to 40%. If you can, mix in a nap somewhere to refresh your hippocampus.
  3. It doesn't mean what you think

    If you know you have to pull an all-nighter, try a "prophylactic nap." It's a short nap in advance of expected sleep deprivation that will help you stay alert for up to 10 hours afterwards.
  4. You can't avoid that down period after lunch by not eating

    Human bodies naturally go through two phases of deep tiredness, one between 2-4 a.m. and between 1-3 p.m. Skipping lunch won't help this period of diminished alertness and coordination.
  5. Pick the right time

    After lunch in the early afternoon your body naturally gets tired. This is the best time to take a brief nap, as it's early enough to not mess with your nighttime sleep.
  6. Hour naps are great

    A 60-minute nap improves alertness for 10 hours, although with naps over 45 minutes you risk what's known as "sleep inertia," that groggy feeling that may last for half an hour or more.
  7. But short naps are best

    For healthy young adults, naps as short as 20, 10, or even 2 minutes can be all you need to get the mental benefits of sleep, without risking grogginess.
  8. Drink coffee first

    The way this works is you drink a cup of coffee right before taking your 20-minute or half-hour nap, which is precisely how long caffeine takes to kick in. That way when you wake up, you're not only refreshed, but ready to go.
  9. The NASA nap

    A little group called NASA discovered that just a 26-minute nap increases performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. Pilots take advantage of NASA naps while planes are on autopilot.
  10. Can't sleep? Don't stress

    Even if you can't fall asleep for a nap, just laying down and resting has benefits. Studies have found resting results in lowered blood pressure, which even some college kids have to worry about if they are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure.
  11. Napping may save your life

    A multi-year Greek study found napping at least three times per week for at least 30 minutes resulted in a 37% lower death rate due to heart problems.
  12. More nap benefits for the brain

    Not only will napping improve your alertness, it will also help your decision-making, creativity, and sensory perception.
  13. But wait, there's more

    Studies have found napping raises your stamina 11%, increases ability to stay asleep all night by 12%, and lowers the time required to fall asleep by 14%.
  14. The ultimate nap

    According to Dr. Sara Mednick, the best nap occurs when REM sleep is in proportion to slow-wave sleep. Use her patented Take A Nap Nap Wheel to calculate what time of day you can nap to the max.
  15. Fight the Freshman 15

    Research shows that women who sleep five hours at night are 32% more likely to experience major weight gain than those sleeping seven hours. A two-hour nap isn't feasible for many, but napping is a good way to make up for at least some lost night sleep.

  1. If it was good enough for them…

    Presidents JFK and Bill Clinton used to nap every day to help ease the heavy burden of ruling the free world. Of course, they also had other relaxation methods, but we won't get into those.
  2. Do like the Romans do

    In ancient Rome, everyone, including children, retreated for a 2 or 3-hour nap after lunch. No doubt this is the reason the Roman empire lasted over 1,000 years.
  3. Don't wait too long

    The latest you want to wake up from a nap is five hours before bedtime, otherwise you risk not being able to fall asleep at night.
  4. Sugar is not a good substitute for a nap

    When we are tired, we instinctively reach for foods with a high glycemic index, but after the initial energy wears off, we're left more tired than we were before.
  5. It's a good way to catch up

    If it takes you less than five minutes to fall asleep at night, you are sleep deprived. If you never can seem to get to bed earlier at night, a mid-day nap is a great way to catch up on sleep.
  6. Underclassmen need more sleep

    Freshmen and sophomores who are still in your teens: you need up to 10 hours of sleep to feel rested. So odds are, you are sleep-deprived.
  7. You'll have to leave the party sooner

    After one school-week of not getting enough sleep, three alcoholic drinks will affect you the same way six would when you are fully rested.
  8. Don't drive drowsy

    Don't be afraid to take advantage of an "emergency nap" on the side of the road in your car. Every year, as many as 100,000 traffic fatalities are caused by sleepy people behind the wheel.
  9. The Einstein Method

    If you are concerned about sleeping too long, do what Albert Einstein regularly did: hold a pencil while you're drifting off, so when you fall asleep, the pencil dropping will wake you up. (We do not guarantee you will wake up with a 180 IQ.)
  10. Missing sleep is worse at your age

    For people ages 18 to 24, sleep deprivation impairs performance more significantly than in other age brackets.

    Written By: Angelita Williams

Friday, 4 January 2013

The Truth About For Sale By Owner Companies

The Truth About For Sale By Owner Companies

During the past 2 years, The Canadian Real Estate Association has been under pressure to open the public MLS to for-sale-by-owner companies. The Competition Bureau feels that the MLS system is anti-competitive, and wants the consumer to have more cost effective choices, saving the consumer commission fees, but are they? Since early 2011 for-sale-by-owner companies have gained access to post mere listings on the MLS. What I will discuss in this blog post is what these companies don't tell you, and how many properties they have actually sold. I think most of you will be surprised by the statistics I will share with you.

Two big forces that are competing for the consumers business is, Com Free (Commonsense Network Brokerage) and Realtysellers. There is a bunch of other for-sale-by-owner companies, but they have limited data, or they are not making enough of impression, so their stats are meaningless.

Before I discuss these two brokerages I will explain to you their business model. These companies now advertise that they can list your home on the MLS for a flat fee. Both of these companies run like a real estate brokerage, where they employ registered Real Estate Agents. These services require you to pay a flat fee upfront, which can range from $500-$2000. Also, there are add ons. If you require any additional assistance, they will require payment for those services. Remember you as the homeowner are solely responsible for showings, offers, marketing, selling, etc. When you are using a flat free brokerage like these two for-sale-by-owner companies, you always have to pay for the service upfront regardless of whether the property sells. The difference using a Real Estate Agent is that they only get paid when the property sells, so it is in their interest to work with you until the property sells.


All stats are taken from the Toronto Real Estate Board from January 1st, 2012 to December 31, 2012. The Toronto Real Estate Board covers areas as far east as Oshawa, as far west as Burlington, and as far north as Newmarket.

Realtysellers listed 708 properties this year, and of those listed, only 309 were sold (43%). Out of the 309 properties sold with Realtysellers, 195 (63%) were sold to a buyer who was working with a Realtor. Usually a 2.5% commission was offered when a Realtor is involved in the transaction.

The breakdown of commission is usually 5%, 2.5% goes to the listing Agent and 2.5% goes to the Buyers Agent. Out of the 90000 properties sold this year in the GTA only 0.3% were sold using Realtysellers.

Now lets take a look at Comfree which has the largest market share in the Greater Toronto Area in terms of for-sale-by-owner companies. Comfree listed 1287 properties this year. Of those properties listed, only 672 were sold (52%). Of the 672 that were sold, 368 were sold using a Realtor (55%). That translates to only 304 of the 1287 listed properties were sold without the services of a Realtor (23%).

When the consumer sees a Comfree or Realtysellers sold sign they assume that these properties were sold without paying any commission. The truth is that close to 60% were sold using the services of a Realtor. Does the consumer know this? Wouldn't the consumer find this to be valuable? Of course, but most information out there is somewhat skewed and misleading. Again, it is the public that has to do their due diligence, but is this information readily available? No!

There were close 1000 properties that never sold by these companies that required a flat fee. Let us assume the consumer paid $1000 for these services. That means that these companies earned $1,000,000 in revenue for not doing a thing. In my opinion the for-sale-by-owner industry entered the market during a time when the market was red hot. If the market stagnates or slows down like we are starting to see in some regions, do you think they will have the same market share? Defintely not!

Only just over 1% of all properties sold in 2012 were sold by the two for-sale-by-owner companies that were discussed. With close to 35000 Agents working in the Toronto Real Estate Board there are plenty of services out there for just about anyone. The consumer needs to choose wisely and be aware of the services, choices, and the transperancy of these services.

What are your thoughts?
by Andrew Paolone