Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Five Ways to Fix a Slow Sink Drain

A slow, sluggish sink drain is a very common plumbing problem. The bathroom sink is the one most frequently afflicted with this particular problem, and several things can contribute to a slow sink drain. Often the pop-up that is used to stop up the sink can collect a lot of hair and debris, because the sink is used on a daily basis.

Also, soap and other products that are washed down the drain can slowly collect in the drain pipes. The build-up that naturally collects over time reduces the size of the drain, effectively slowing the progress of draining water. This drainage issue happens naturally over time and usually cannot be avoided. The only solution is to clean the drain periodically to keep it flowing.
  • Clear Out Debris With a Zip-It Tool - The first step to getting the sink drain flowing again is to clear out any hair and debris that has collected there. One quite easy way to do this is to use the Zip-it tool, an inexpensive tool that works wonders in just minutes. The Zip-it tool can be put into the drain to catch hair and debris, which can then be pulled out. The Zip-it can be used in a sink drain with or without a pop-up, because it is thin enough to fit in the drain even with a pop-up in place.
  • Remove the Pop-up - The shape of the sink pop-up is such that it often collects debris and build-up. If you do not have a Zip-it tool, or if the tool was not able to clear out all debris, another option is to remove the pop-up and clean it out. Most pop-ups are held in place with a nut attached to the drain just under the sink. To remove the pop-up, reach behind the drain pipe under the sink to find the pop-up nut. Once the nut is removed, the pop-up can be pulled out of the sink drain, cleaned, and then reinstalled.
  • Use Homemade Drain Cleaner - A mild, homemade drain cleaner can be used to clean the drain pipes after the larger debris has been pulled out. The reaction caused by combining two common and inexpensive household products can help to break down the mucky build-up on the inside of the drain pipes. Getting even a little of the build-up out of the drain can help get it flowing freely again. By using homemade drain cleaner, you avoid using harsh chemicals and save money as well.
  • Clear the Sink Overflow - One purpose of the overflow opening is to divert water into the drain if it accidentally rises too high in the sink, of course. But another important purpose is to allow air into the drain when the sink is filled with water. The air that comes into the drain through the overflow helps water in the sink to drain faster. The sink overflow is another place where debris and build-up can collect over time. If a sink is draining slowly and cleaning the drain does not seem to solve the problem, it is a good idea to clean the overflow as well.
  • Use a Plunger - A plunger can be used on a slow sink drain; it does not have to be reserved for a complete drain stoppage. A little plunging can help to loosen and dislodge hair and debris that is collected in the pipe. To be sure that the plunger is effective, cover the sink overflow with a rag or some duct tape before plunging. Covering the overflow helps create a seal, which is needed to clear any blocked pipe.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Kitchen Planning Guidance

A renovated kitchen is one of the biggest selling features in residential real estate. It's worth considering any such projects as a long-term investment - and taking the time to carefully plan every aspect. Right from the start, the most critical challenge is achieving an efficient kitchen layout. Regardless of the size, a kitchen should have the sink, refrigerator and oven/cooktop situated in classic work triangle or quad layout for ease of access within a few steps. It is also important to plan for adequate task lighting, as well as ambient, accent and/or overhead lighting. 

In addition, when designing the kitchen, consider window treatments for ambience and privacy. Even though an abundance of daylight or direct sunlight is generally appreciated, it will probably need to be diffused or screened at different times of day. Once these basic perimeter decisions are determined, devote any available space to comfortable seating, an organized counterspace and practical cabinetry - including drawers, shelving and storage. With so many specialty appliances and utensils being regularly used in modern kitchens, good and thoughtful design is particularly important to ensure a new kitchen is as functional and clutter-free as it is beautiful. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

GTA REALTORS® Release February 2023 Stats

February sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) were down substantially from the pre-rate hike levels of early 2022. However, the number of new listings also dropped substantially year-over-year. The result was that the average selling price and MLS® HPI continued to level off after trending lower through the spring and summer of last year.

“It has been almost a year since the Bank of Canada started raising interest rates. Home prices have dropped over the last year from the record peak in February 2022, mitigating the impact of higher borrowing costs. Many homebuyers have also decided to purchase a lower priced home to help offset higher borrowing costs. The share of home purchases below one million dollars is up substantially compared to this time last year,” said Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) President Paul Baron.

GTA REALTORS® reported 4,783 sales through TRREB’s MLS® System in February 2023 – down 47 per cent compared to February 2022, the last full month before the onset of interest rate hikes. The number of new listings entered into the system was down by a similar annual rate of 40.9 per cent to 8,367.

“New listings continued to drop year-over-year in the GTA. Recently released Ipsos polling suggests buying intentions have picked up for 2023. This increased demand will run up against a constrained supply of listings and lead to increased competition between buyers. This will eventually lead to renewed price growth in many segments of the market, especially those catering to first-time buyers facing increased rental costs,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

The average selling price for February 2023 was $1,095,617 – down 17.9 per cent compared to February 2022. Some of this decline is attributable to the fact that the share of sales below $1,000,000 was 57 per cent in February 2023 versus only 38 per cent a year earlier. On a monthly basis, the average price followed the regular seasonal trend, increasing relative to January 2023. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was down year-over-year by a similar annual rate of 17.7 per cent, but was also up on a monthly basis.

“As we move toward a June mayoral by-election in Toronto, housing supply will once again be front and centre in the policy debate. New and innovative solutions, including the City of Toronto’s initiative to allow duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in all neighbourhoods citywide, need to come to fruition if we are to achieve an adequate and diverse housing supply that will support record population growth in the years to come,” said TRREB Chief Executive Officer John DiMichele.

TRREB MLS® Sales-to-New Listings Ratio February 2023

TRREB MLS® New Listings February 2023

TRREB MLS® Sales February 2023

TRREB MLS® Average Price February 2023

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

There are a few things you can do to prevent the problem of freezing pipes from occurring. 
  • Leave the faucet dripping during the coldest times. The steadily moving water will keep the pipes slightly above the freezing point and prevent them from freezing. No one wants to waste water, but it is better than dealing with burst pipes. A burst pipe can easily spill several hundred gallons of water per hour.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow the heated air from the room to reach pipes inside the cabinet. This is often sufficient to prevent kitchen pipes from freezing on the coldest nights.
  • Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape and plug it in when the weather is especially cold.
  • Insulate problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces. But remember that insulation merely slows the transfer of heat and will not prevent a pipe from freezing if the surrounding air is cold enough. ​
  • Install a permanent heater to keep areas with pipes above the freezing point. For example, an unheated basement or garage can be fitted with a permanent baseboard heater to keep temperatures above freezing. However, do not use portable heaters, which should never be left running unattended.
  • Remove garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets (hose bibs or sillcocks). If the faucet is not a frost-proof type, winterize the pipes by turning off the water to the faucet inside the house and draining the exterior section of the pipe and faucet.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Tile & Grout: Clean, Repair or Replace?

Seeing dirty or cracked grout lines and tile can sometimes be so discouraging that we think the only answer is to retile an entire wall or room. But, consider the level of deterioration before making such a decision. There are incremental steps you may be able to take to give your tile and grout extended life. Scrubbing grout or tile may be the simplest answer, but it will likely require a professional-grade cleaner or steamer. Since some heavy-duty cleaning formulas employ strong chemicals, be sure to test any cleanser in an inconspicuous spot, while wearing prescribed protection. 

If some repair is necessary, it's worth nothing that individual tiles or sections of damaged tile can be replaced without committing to an entirely new tile installation. However, it's not exactly a do-it-yourself job. Presuming you can find replacement tile and grout that matches, such a project required a skillful professional to ensure a clean and "seamless" installation that does not appear like a patchwork solution. 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Understanding Probate

In general, probate is the legal process that clears an estate executor to carry out the intentions of a deceased person's will - including the payment of outstanding debts and distribution of remaining assets. If there is no will, or no executor named, a probate jurisdiction or court may appoint an administrator to resolve the dissolution of the estate, sometimes for a proportionate fee. But, probate can also demand painstaking accounting of details, depending on the size and complexity of the portfolio, and the various laws under which some contracts exist. Different jurisdictions across the country have different laws and legal terminology. 

For example, in some cases, a simple transfer of funds may not even require probate, such as awarding a surviving spouse or beneficiary the proceeds of an insurance policy. But, in other cases, property may need to be liquidated rather than directly inherited. It can get more complicated if assets are invested under specific terms or in another country. However, probate needn't be overlay complicated if plans are made in advance. So, have separate chats with your heir(s), your executor and your lawyer to ensure your intentions are made clear- and are set out in a legally binding will. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Secrets To A Trouble-Free Spring Renovation

Are you planning on making some home improvements next year? Whether it's a minor project such as painting, or a major renovation like a new kitchen, you want the project to go smoothly. 

There's a lot you can do to make sure that happens. For example: 

  • Start the planning process now. That will enable you to discover any challenges and roadblocks early, giving you plenty of time to deal with them. You don't want to find out at the last minute that the materials needed are backordered everywhere. 
  • Hire the contractor early. Spring is a popular time for renovations. As a result, contractors often get booked early. If you wait until the last minute, you might scramble to find someone. Or, worse, you might be forced to hire a contractor who's less than ideal. 
  • Make your decisions in advance. Choosing styles, colours, options, sizes, etc., can take longer than you might expect. So, start making those decisions as early as possible. That way, project materials can be ordered well in advance of the start date. 
  • Plan for the realities. Even when projects are well managed, things happen. So, make contingency plans. For example, have a trusted pet daycare on hand if you find that your dog and the renovators aren't getting along! 
Did you notice the theme that emerges from these tips? Start planning your project now. If you do, there's a much better chance the work will go smoothly this spring. 

Friday, February 3, 2023

GTA REALTORS® Release January 2023 Stats

As we moved from 2022 into 2023, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market unfolded as expected. The number of January sales and the overall average selling price were similar to December 2022. On a year-over-year basis, both sales and prices were down markedly, continuing to highlight the impact of higher borrowing costs on affordability over the last year.

“Home sales and selling prices appear to have found some support in recent months. This coupled with the Bank of Canada announcement that interest rate hikes are likely on hold for the foreseeable future will prompt some buyers to move off the sidelines in the coming months. Record population growth and tight labour market conditions will continue to support housing demand moving forward,” said Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) President Paul Baron.

GTA REALTORS® reported 3,100 sales through TRREB’s MLS® System in January 2023 – in line with the December 2022 result of 3,110, but down 44.6 per cent from January 2022. The average selling price for January 2023 at $1,038,668 was slightly lower than the December 2022 result and down by 16.4 per cent compared to the January 2022 average price reported before the onset of Bank of Canada interest rate hikes. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was in line with the December result, but down by 14.2 per cent compared to January 2022.

“Home prices declined over the past year as homebuyers sought to mitigate the impact of substantially higher borrowing costs. While short-term borrowing costs increased again in January, negotiated medium-term mortgage rates, like the five-year fixed rate, have actually started to trend lower compared to the end of last year. The expectation is that this trend will continue, further helping with affordability as we move through 2023,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

“All three levels of government have announced policies to enhance housing affordability over the long term, including many initiatives focussed on increasing housing supply in the ownership and rental markets. Most recently, we were encouraged to see Toronto City Council support the Mayor’s 2023 Housing Action Plan as part of the City’s overall $2 billion commitment to housing initiatives,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.

TRREB MLS® Sales-to-New Listings Ratio January 2023


TRREB MLS® New Listings January 2023


TRREB MLS® Sales January 2023


TRREB MLS® Average Price January 2023


Monday, January 30, 2023

Improving Indoor Air Quality

The more time we spend indoors, the more likely we are to be exposed to questionable indoor air quality (IAQ), and to be breathing in undesirable gases and toxins emitted from within the home. Among the most common indoor air pollutants in our homes are those coming from biological sources, such as mould, dust mites and bacteria, as well as those coming from chemical sources. Common chemical sources include fossil fuel residues like carbon monoxide (CO), and other off-gases emitted from common synthetics, such as building materials, new furniture, upholstery, drapery, clothing and textiles. 

To help reduce such risks and improve indoor air quality in your home, consider investing in a system that employs high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration. Also, be attentive to the size of your home and/or rooms, relative to the capacity of the circulation fan(s) and clean air delivery rate (CADR) of any systems you're considering. Finally, don't assume that all air purifiers on the market will be effective for everyone in the home. For example, if someone in your home has respiratory discomfort, you may need medical advice to identify the specific contaminants or irritants that are problematic and then determine the best possible IAQ solution for that pollutant. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Just Leased | 133 Chaplin Crescent - Main Floor



Completely Renovated And Loaded With Character & Charm. Hardwood Floors, Gas Fireplace, 2 Bedrooms + 2 Baths With Radiant Heated Floors, Pot Lights, Built-In Closet Organizers, Ensuite Laundry. Chef's Kitchen Perfect For Entertaining. Approximately 1,200 Sq. Ft, 1 Parking Spot, Backing Onto Beltline Trail, Walk To Subway. A Fantastic Mid-Town Executive Rental, Nothing To Do But Move In & Unpack. A Great Condo Alternative!

Monday, January 23, 2023

4 Simple Improvements That Will Enchant Buyers

When prospective buyers come to see your home, you want them to love it. In fact, the greater the number of buyers who feel that way, the more offers you'll get - and those offers will likely be for higher prices. 

There's plenty you can do to get more buyers to feel the love. You already know that you should declutter and make everything clean and tidy. Here are four other suggestions worth considering: 

  1. Make the floors shine. Buyers will notice the state of the floors, especially on the main level. So, do what you can to make them look great. Get any minor repairs done, such as replacing a cracked tile. There are floor cleaners and finishing products available that can make older-looking floors look almost new. 
  2. Upgrade the wall d├ęcor. One of the easiest ways to stage a room is to hang new pictures that add to the look and feel of the space. They don't have to be Rembrandts! In fact, there are plenty of great-looking yet inexpensive paintings, prints, posters and other types of wall covering s you can find. 
  3. Improve the lighting. Are there areas in your property where the lighting is too bright? Too dim? Uneven? Or otherwise unpleasant? Switching out a few light bulbs or fixtures can make a big difference. Consider buying a couple of standing light fixtures, which can be placed anywhere to improve the lighting. 
  4. Add a few plants. Psychologists say that plants help to create a sense of comfort and well-being. That's just the effect you want your home to have on buyers! A few green plans can work wonders. But, avoid flowering plants as some buyers may be allergic. 
As you can see, these upgrades won't cost you much, but they will have an impact on buyers. The better the impression those buyers form when they tour your home, the more likely they will be to make a good offer. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

How to Keep Rugs from Sliding

An area rug or runner is the perfect way to anchor furniture, create a layered look, and add comfort to your space. While it might fill a room with character or add a cozy textural element, a rug that's not properly secured on the floor can become a hassle, not to mention a safety hazard. Whether it sits on a bare hardwood floor or it’s layered on top of wall-to-wall carpet, here are interior designer-approved tips and tricks to keep your rugs from sliding.

1. Use a Felt Rug Pad
One of the best ways to keep a rug in place, keep corners from curling, and make it more comfortable to walk on is by placing a rug pad underneath it. Felt rug pads come in various sizes, thickness options, and materials to accommodate different types of rugs and flooring.

Felt rug pads are one of the most effective and commonly used options for large area rugs. They come in standard sizes and thicknesses but can also be custom-ordered to suit oversized rugs. These non-slip pads are soft but dense. In addition to keeping rugs in place, they also protect the floor and extend a rug’s longevity, make vacuuming and cleaning easier, help soundproof a room, and add cushioning for comfortable walking. Choose a rug pad that is approximately two inches smaller than your area rug so that it’s fully hidden.

2. Add a Waffle-Style Rug Pad
A waffle-style rug pad is a common affordable option. They're usually made from rubber and sold in pre-cut sizes at most home goods retailers, though they can easily be cut down to size using a pair of scissors. This type of rug pad is very thin. One of its disadvantages is that it doesn’t add the same comfort and cushioning that a felt pad does. It also tends to lose its grip over time, meaning that it will likely need to be switched out more frequently. If a rubber waffle pad is used in a room that gets a lot of sunlight and isn’t weatherproofed, such as a sunroom or mudroom, you also run the risk of it leaving residue on the floor as it sits in the heat.

3. Corner Rug Grippers
Rug grippers are particularly helpful not just for keeping an area rug or accent runner in place but also for preventing corners from curling. They have a strong adhesive on one side that adheres to the bottom of a rug and a non-slip silicone surface on the side that sits on the floor. Unlike sticky tape, grippers don’t leave a hard-to-clean residue on the floor, so you can easily reposition your rugs and reuse the grippers. They are thin, so they don’t cause any visible bumps, and work on multiple surfaces including hardwood, tile, marble, and more.

4. Apply Rug Tape
Similar to corner rug grippers, double-sided rug tape has adhesive on one side that attaches to the back of a rug and either an adhesive or silicone material on the other side. It comes in the form of a roll, similar to duct tape, and can be cut down to the size that you need to outline your rug. It works on hard surfaces such as tile, laminate, and more, and is a good choice for smaller rugs, such as a kitchen runner or door mat.

5. Silicone Caulk
If you thought silicone caulk was only for filling in the cracks in your window frames, there are many more uses for it around your home, one of them being to keep rugs from sliding. Caulk is typically clear or white and comes in a tube, so it can easily be applied to the back of a rug or runner. Squeeze out small dots of caulk directly from the tube or use a caulking gun. Once applied to the rug, allow it to sit and form a dry coating before pressing the rug down in place.

6. Hook-and-Loop Fasteners
Square hook-and-loop stickers, such as Velcro, are another effective way to keep rugs, runners, and door mats from sliding. Just like rug grippers, these stickers are designed to be attached under each of the rug corners by peeling off the backing and sticking one piece on the back of a rug and the other on the floor. This industrial-strength fastener is strong enough to keep rugs in place but allows for easy rug removal when you need to reposition or clean underneath the rug.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Fitness Tips For Busy People

Are you thinking of stepping up your fitness game this year? For most people, the main obstacle isn't a lack of motivation. It's a lack of time. If you're on a tight schedule, you might find it difficult to get to the gym regularly or adhere to any kind of fitness regime. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of practical strategies for getting fit even when your days are jam-packed. 

You may want to start with one of the many wearable fitness apps - watched, bands, etc. These apps can motivate you to take advantage of fitness opportunities as they arise. For example, if you use the stairs in a building rather than the elevator, the app will calculate the calories burned and even give you a virtual "high five"! 

But, you don't need an app to do this. As you go about your day, look for ways to be active. Walk to the store. Climb the stairs. Do a few sit-ups between meetings. 

Another way to schedule fitness on a busy schedule is to join a gym or fitness club with extended hours. Some gyms are open 24/7. That allows you to schedule a workout anytime you can fit one in. 

Finally, there are plenty of ways to get fit that don't require a gym. Walking, jogging, yoga, and strength-building are examples of exercises easily done without specialized facilities or equipment. 

And, remember, you don't need to block off an hour to workout. Five to ten-minute sessions can produce results. 

So, even on a busy schedule, there's no excuse not to reach your fitness goals in 2023. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

GTA REALTORS® Release December 2022 Stats

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market experienced a marked adjustment in 2022 compared to record levels in 2021. Existing affordability issues brought about by a lack of housing supply were exacerbated by sustained interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada.

"Following a very strong start to the year, home sales trended lower in the spring and summer of 2022, as aggressive Bank of Canada interest rate hikes further hampered housing affordability. With no relief from the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) mortgage stress test or other mortgage lending guidelines including amortization periods, home selling prices adjusted downward to mitigate the impact of higher mortgage rates. However, home prices started levelling off in the late summer, suggesting the aggressive early market adjustment may be coming to an end," said new Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) President Paul Baron.

There were 75,140 sales reported through TRREB9s MLS® System in 2022 - down 38.2 per cent compared to the 2021 record of 121,639. The number of new listings amounted to 152,873 - down 8.2 per cent compared to 166,600 new listings in 2021. Seasonally adjusted monthly data for sales and price data show a marked flattening of the sales and price trends since the late summer.

"While home sales and prices dominated the headlines in 2022, the supply of new listings continued to be an issue as well. The number of homes listed for sale in 2022 was down in comparison to 2021. This helps explain why selling prices have found some support in recent months. Lack of supply has also impacted the rental market. As renting has become more popular in this higher interest rate environment, tighter rental market conditions have translated into double-digit average rent increases," said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

The average selling price for 2022 was $1,189,850 - up 8.6 per cent compared to $1,095,333 in 2021. This growth was based on a strong start to the year, in terms of year-over-year price growth. The pace of growth moderated from the spring of 2022 onwards.

TRREB MLS® Sales-to-New Listings Ratio December 2022


TRREB MLS® New Listings December 2022


TRREB MLS® Sales December 2022

TRREB MLS® Average Price December 2022