BOSCH HOME APPLIANCES | Updating your new home? Improvements can be both design and eco-friendly

Updating your new home? Improvements can be both design and eco-friendly

Cost and energy-efficient upgrades add style and value to your new home

TORONTO, March 8 /CNW/ – Buying a new home? There are cost-efficient renovations that you can undertake immediately to make your new home your own and improve its energy-efficiency without breaking the bank. According to real estate broker Simon Giannini, who has 25 years experience helping Canadians find the perfect home, key upgrades and changes, such as installing eco-friendly appliances, fuse style with green technology making them the smart choice for a newly-purchased home.

“When my clients are house hunting, I tell them to look past the esthetics such as outdated appliances and 70’s wallpaper and consider how they can make the house their own,” says Simon Giannini, Real Estate Broker, with Royal LePage.  “You don’t have to undertake large scale renovations in order to update your home.  Simple changes such as a new coat of paint throughout the house or the purchase of new eco-friendly ENERGY STAR® efficient appliances, like a Bosch dishwasher, can give your home an instant facelift.”

Giannini explains that the key to upgrades and renovations is about knowing how and where to spend your money.  Since there are both cosmetic and functional aspects to consider, kitchen upgrades can provide a significantly higher return on investment than other home renovations.  By simply updating cabinetry fronts in a neutral tone, adding a new countertop, or updating appliances, new homeowners can drastically change the look of their home and increase the resale value. Plus, eco-friendly renovations can also provide significant government rebates.

Giannini offers the following five tips for easy upgrades that add value to your home:

  • Kitchen upgrades – If a full reno is not in the plans, instantly update the look of your kitchen with new appliances.  A stylish stainless steel dishwasher, like the Bosch 800 Plus that uses 156% less energy than the federal standard, and a new refrigerator will give your kitchen a fresh look and save you money
  • Green your garden – landscaping, and some perennials can make your home look beautiful year round and help the environment too
  • Give your bathroom a makeover – replace the vanity and mirror to take your bathroom from old-fashioned to 21st century and check with your municipality to see if you can get a rebate to replace your old toilet with a water efficient model

  • More light – a little light goes a long way. Replacing energy-draining light fixtures or dated chandeliers make a big difference in the look of your home and potentially save on your electrical bills


  • Create a new space – basements are often considered a place for storage, but with a fresh coat of paint and furniture, a whole new office or study space can be produced

“Small upgrades, especially in the kitchen, are a great way to modernize your home and add to its resale value,” says Simon.  “Potential buyers need to know that there are several green options available that can add character to your home, money to your pocket and reduce your carbon footprint without limiting your home’s style.”

About Bosch
Bosch home appliances is part of BSH Bosch and Siemens Home Appliance Group, the third largest appliance manufacturer in the world. Inspired by the lifestyle of today’s discerning consumers, all Bosch products combine efficiency, quietness, and quality with unrivaled ease of use. Known worldwide for raising standards in efficiency and quietness, Bosch is the only Canadian home appliance manufacturer with entire product lines of ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwashers, washers and refrigeration. Bosch continues to be the brand of choice for discerning consumers that desire the best in green living, quietness, convenience, design and safety.



BMO: Canada real estate market heading for bubble—but not Toronto | To Market, To Market |

BMO: Canada real estate market heading for bubble—but not Toronto

(Image: Rhett Maxwell)

A new report out from BMO Capital Markets suggests that Canada is in increasing danger of a housing price collapse—especially if prices keep going up. The good news for Toronto is that while other provinces are steadily inching closer to the danger zone, Ontario doesn’t seem to be.

The problem is that the value of homes have increased much faster than incomes. The bank says average home resale prices compared with personal incomes are 14 per cent above the long-run trend, up from last summer, although still below the 21 per cent peak that preceded the 1989 crash.

But that is not the case in all markets. Five provinces are currently in the danger zone, led by Saskatchewan, where the ratio is 39 per cent above historic norms.

Also well above the long-run levels is Newfoundland, 34 per cent higher; British Columbia and Manitoba, 31 per cent, and Quebec, 23 per cent above.

By comparison, in Ontario, the price-to-income ratio is only 10 per cent higher than historic norms, suggesting prices are moderately overvalued but not in bubble territory.

Hurray for Toronto—overvalued against historic prices, but not quite as bad as other places. It’s like we’ve been saying: when the collapse of the housing market comes, Toronto may get hit, but we won’t need to stockpile ammo, canned goods and drinking water.

Of course, this also means Toronto shoppers might be able to pick up real estate in other provinces for a song after the crash. Anyone interested in a waterfront property in Regina Beach?

Home prices nearing bubble territory, but cool-off expected [Globe and Mail]
Canadian housing market ‘moderately’ overvalued: BMO [Toronto Star]
Housing crisis ‘inevitable’ if prices outpace income [National Post]



Average Selling Price Up in February | Toronto Real Estate Board | Market Watch

Average_Selling_Price_Up_in_February_-_Market_Watch_2011.pdf Download this file

8 insider tips for the New Homeowner | Real Estate and Homes for Sale |

Jeff Hui gives the NDH reader his scoop on what they should keep in mind when making a new home purchase:

1 ) Keep your credit clean: Run a credit check on yourself and verify that the information is correct. Contact any creditors who haven’t updated your record in terms of cancelled cards or balances that have been paid off. Paying off high interest credit cards as soon as possible will help make it easier for mortgage approval.

2) Be a Pre-Approved Buyer: Talk to your mortgage professional about how much home you can afford and get pre-approved before you start looking. Becoming pre-approved is very easy. Contact your mortgage professional to arrange a mortgage consultation and they will work with you to complete your mortgage application with a credit check prior to beginning your search for a home. Pre-approval means that you have actually been approved for the purchase by a lender, which gives you the edge in home purchase negotiating. The pre-approval guarantees you, up to a period of 120 days, that if the rate increases during that time, you will still get the original rate. If the property you are looking to buy won’t be completed for six months or more, then you should look into the mortgages offered by the builders on-site. In these cases, the on-site lender will typically be able to guarantee a capped rate for a longer time duration (such as 12 to 18 months), usually until the expected project completion date. You should negotiate a capped rate for as long a period as possible. These typically have some built-in extension protection if the project takes longer than expected.

3) Determine your priorities: Take some time to think about what factors are most important to you. Make a list of what you want, need, and don’t want in a home. Rate your desired home attributes on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being an absolute “must have” and 1 being a “nice to have, but not a necessity”). This checklist will allow you to objectively assess different homes according to your needs and will save you invaluable time when you go out to see various building developments.

4) Check out the neighbourhood: Make yourself a “home value expert.” Investigate the areas and price ranges for the type of home you are looking for. If you find yourself becoming interested in a particular neighbourhood, familiarize yourself with the local amenities, schools, property taxes, crime rates, and other neighhourhood features. Talk with different people in the area and visit at different times during the day. The characteristics of the area may change dramatically during different hours of the day. Go to the local planning office to find out about the plans for the area. Research is half the battle. Remember, you’re getting more than just a home – you’re buying the entire neighbourhood package!

5) Get legal advice before signing the contract: Talk with a real estate lawyer and review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) with them prior to signing the contract. This will ensure you understand the exact terms and conditions of the contract, and that you know what’s included in the purchase price. Be sure that any verbal agreements from the seller are included in written form within the APS. Be sure that you’ve negotiated a reasonable closing or occupancy date and make sure that all deposit details are documented.

6) Stay calm: Even in a hot market, be cool and calculated with your decisions. Your home purchase may be your single largest investment. If you’re buying a new condominium, be sure to review the disclosure statement carefully. By law, you have a 10-day cooling off period once you receive the disclosure statement.

7) Be thorough during the Pre-Delivery Inspection: Before you take possession of your new home or condominium, the builder is required to do a pre delivery inspection of the property with you. This is one of your first opportunities to see your new home in its final state. During this inspection, it is crucial to note anything that is missing, not working properly, or damaged. Conduct the inspection at your own pace, and make sure to check out all the details. Write everything down yourself on the pre-delivery inspection form. This is one of the most important opportunities for you to note any problems in the new property.

8) Make sure that your finances are in order: As you begin the search for a new home, this is an ideal time to make sure that your finances are in order and to set up your financial plan for the future. A professional mortgage consultant who is truly looking after your financial interests will be able to advise you on various strategies to help you develop a financial plan and build more wealth. Remember to have fun during your homebuying adventure. You’ll only buy your first home once and with the right professional guidance, it can be a stress-free and enjoyable experience!


Squeezed in, but abounding in open space – The Globe and Mail


Squeezed in, but abounding in open space
Toronto— From Friday’s Globe and Mail

Over the next 20 years, Toronto will welcome millions of new citizens from across Canada and the world. (At least I hope these newcomers will be welcome, Mayor Rob Ford’s grumblings about immigrants notwithstanding.) Where will our fresh-off-the-plane neighbours live?

If nothing is done to slow the remorseless advance of suburbia, many could end up somewhere in the monotonous, environmentally unsustainable low-density sprawl that already stretches far to the east, west and north of Toronto.

Sprawl, however, is neither inevitable nor unstoppable. The construction of many new residential high-rises downtown and farther afield, and the recladding and refreshing of Toronto’s thousand or so elderly tall apartment buildings, could substantially ease the population pressure on the city’s edges.

But the skyscraper is not the only tool that’s available for creating livable, high-density urban fabric to combat suburban expansion. With some imagination and ingenuity on the part of planners and their political masters in city council, laneways and little streets and neglected nooks and crannies of the city could be opened up to a kind of intensive, small-scale housing development that is now highly restricted by law.

There are noble motives behind this limitation. Toronto has not forgotten, for example, the dilapidated, crowded slums that infested the downtown core in the first half of the 20th century. Nobody wants to see that passage in our history repeated. Nor need it be, so long as common sense and a strong sense of civic purpose prevail in the field of intensification.

Indeed, a few pioneers have already shown how such laneway development can work. They have braved the approvals process, gotten the hard-won permissions, and taken up residence in tight spots across the city. They might be joined by many more adventurous souls – aficionados of hard-edged, inner-city living – if the rules governing high-density housing were relaxed.

The Japanese are ahead of North Americans in this regard, and we have much to learn from them about architectural infill and snug city living. I have recently been cruising the Internet in search of good buildings in small Japanese places, and here is one instance of what I’ve discovered.

It’s called FW House. Designed by the Japanese office Atelier A5 for a Tokyo site about 480 square feet in area, this strongly vertical building is an urbane little single-family dwelling that makes up in height and flair for what it lacks in ground space. (The footprint of the structure is only 270 square feet.) Expanses of dark galvanized steel cladding alternate with blank white paint to form the tall exterior skin, a jaunty affair that expresses, in good modernist fashion, the rhythm of internal spaces. There are not many windows, and they are irregularly scattered across the façade. But what windows there are admit plenty of sunshine into the building.

That light plays freely across the inside. The 786 square feet of the interior are distributed throughout a series of stacked volumes, each visibly held apart from the next by a broad, open horizontal fissure. This sequence of separations makes the volumes seem to hover free of each other, and creates unusual transparency in the structure.

The flows of space and light made possible by the floor separations and windows is necessary, as it turns out, because the interior could easily seem sombre without sufficient openings: The architects have used the dark steel cladding to line the interior as well as the exterior of their house. The effect of this combination of steel, white walls and wood finishes is serious, not solemn – though I think some bright, colourful art could usefully warm up the overall internal atmosphere of severity.

The visitor enters this attractively complicated stack through a wide barn door at the base. This door immediately puts you in the garage: the motorcycle, clearly a beloved possession, is the first thing you see once you cross the threshold. Beyond the garage area, behind a glass wall, lies the dining room and kitchen. The second floor features a living room, bath and terrace, while bedrooms are situated above.

FW House is an instance of effective city-building in a small territory: compact but chic, very contemporary, yet amiable in its relationship to the ordinary fabric around it. (The pitched roof, after all, says “home” in every language.) Were it in Toronto, this small, robust project would certainly not be suitable for everyone. It isn’t for people with many things and doodads, or for people who need a garden. For the right family, however – one with downtown attitude, a taste for minimal living, and a little daring – it could well be the perfect house.


Home sales this year to hover near 10-year average: Scotiabank – The Globe and Mail

Home sales this year to hover near 10-year average: Scotiabank


TORONTO— The Canadian Press

Canadian real estate sales this year are expected to come in about 15 per cent below their peak in 2007, but will hover close to the 10-year average, according to a home sales report from Bank of Nova Scotia.

The bank’s Global Real Estate Trend report released Tuesday said the housing market should remain relatively balanced between both buyers and sellers throughout the year.


More related to this story

Momentum will be strongest in the first half of the year, as anticipated higher interest rates and tighter mortgage lending rules contribute to softening later in the year, Scotiabank senior economist Adrienne Warren said.

“Market conditions are expected to remain fairly balanced, favouring sellers to some degree in the spring, and buyers by the fall. This, in turn, suggests relatively steady prices, but with more downside risk later in the year,” Ms. Warren said.

The broad economic factors supporting housing demand – historically low interest rates and steady employment growth – remain in place for further gains. However, sales will edge down this year and into 2012 as demand modifies following the record-breaking housing boom of the past decade.

“Ownership rates are now reaching both a cyclical and structural peak, given inevitably higher borrowing costs, more moderate medium-term growth prospects and more restrictive mortgage product offerings,” she said.

One of the major changes beginning this month is a shortening of the maximum amortization period from 35 years to 30 years – adding about $100 a month to the average mortgage payment.

That could have the effect of pricing some first-time buyers out of the market, or at least forcing then to opt for a less expensive home, Ms. Warren said.

“Coming on the heels of earlier mortgage-tightening measures implemented in October 2008 and April, 2010, this latest round of regulatory changes will have at least some dampening impact on credit demand, home sales and prices,” she wrote in the report.

This year’s market is expected to follow a similar pattern to the housing activity seen last year.

A powerful driver of economic recovery, the real estate market kicked off last year on a tear as buyers rushed into the market in advance of higher interest rates, new mortgage rules and a new harmonized tax regime in two provinces.

But sales moderated in the second half of the year as a string of modest interest rate hikes, along with the new rules and the HST took their toll on demand.

The Bank of Canada announced Tuesday it will stick with its ultra-low interest rate policy of 1 per cent for now, but most economists suggest it will have to raise rates soon in order to ward off inflation.

Any increase would raise variable mortgage rates and any other loans tied to banks’ prime rates.

Ms. Warren warns that rising mortgage rates, combined with low household incomes and high home prices will strain affordability and further reduce sales.

The report suggests that the number of unsold new homes is higher than average after builders raced to catch up to demand amid the post-recession boom.

“Combined with more muted sales expectations and potentially some slowing in household formation rates, this points to a lower level of sustainable starts over the next few years,” it said.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. predicted last month that between 157,000 and 192,000 new housing units will be built this year, with the number remaining virtually the same in 2012.

In its first-quarter housing market outlook, released Thursday, it said economic growth and lower unemployment will prop up the need for new homes.

Housing sale data from February won’t be released until mid-March, but the Canadian Real Estate Association projected activity in the resale market likely picked last month in advance of the new mortgage rules coming into effect March 18.

About 42,379 homes were sold on CREA’s Multiple Listing Services in January across the country, up 4.5 per cent from the 40,558 sold in December.


Canadian banks rock again – The Globe and Mail

Market View

Canadian banks rock again

Globe and Mail Update

Long-term investors vindicated with strong quarterly earnings