Month: October 2017

31 Oct

10 Things You Must Do Around the House This Fall

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette

Get your home in shape before the real cold weather comes.

Autumn is a great time for football, hot apple cider and preparing your home for the cold weather so you save money and aggravation. While the weather is still relatively warm and the ground is not yet covered with snow, take advantage of autumn to complete some around-the-house projects. These 10 tasks don’t require a lot of time or money, so you can get them all done in a morning or less.

Don’t just clean the gutters — upgrade them

Most homeowners know they need to clean leaves and other debris out of their gutters in the fall. It’s to ensure that water flows correctly to the downspouts, and doesn’t spill over, freeze and turn your front steps and sidewalk into an ice rink. Overflowing gutters can also result in water running back toward the house, which can leak into the basement.

This fall, take the extra step to channel water away from the house by adding extensions to the end of the downspouts. They cost about $9 at home centers and fit over the downspouts without fasteners.

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Fix concrete and asphalt cracks
BRETT MARTIN

Just as freezing water will expand and burst plumbing lines, H2O that gets into cracks in your sidewalk or driveway will also freeze, expand, and force the crack to open wider. Over the course of a winter, multiple freeze/thaw cycles can turn small spider cracks into large ones, which can eventually cause the concrete or asphalt to crumble or have pieces break off.

To fix a crack, you start by cleaning it out with a wire brush. For cracks wider than about 1/4-inch, insert a foam backer rod or pour in sand until it’s no more 1/4-inch from the top. Then for concrete, fill the crack with a concrete crack sealer or concrete caulk. For asphalt, use an asphalt crack filler or, for larger holes, asphalt patch material. Use a putty knife to work the sealer or filler into the opening and smooth the surface.

Whip your small engines into shape
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Make sure your snow thrower starts, the tires are inflated and everything is in working order. If there’s a problem, fix it now — before you have several inches of snow piling up in your driveway. Change the oil if you didn’t change it at the end of last season. Otherwise, check the oil level to make sure it’s good to go. Perform basic maintenance, such as lubricating the snow blower (the owner’s manual will tell you which lubricant to use and where to apply it).

While you’re at it, put your weed trimmer and lawnmower to bed for the winter. Run the engines out of gas, then rinse the weedeater and mower deck clean.

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Even though your grass may not be growing right now, its roots are still active. Fertilizing in the fall promotes deep, healthy root growth before the grass goes dormant for the winter. Fertilizing now also helps the lawn turn green faster in the spring because of the nitrogen stored in the roots, and it makes the grass more resistant to disease and drought.

Lawn and garden stores and home improvement centers offer fertilizer that’s specially formulated and specifically labeled for fall applications. It typically contains more nitrogen than fertilizers for other times of the year. Apply the fertilizer after your last mowing of the year, and choose a slow-release granular product that feeds the lawn over a long period of time.

Drain outside water lines and faucets
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If you don’t do this, you could have an expensive mess on your hands. Water lines exposed to outside temps, including underground irrigation lines and exterior faucets, can freeze. When water freezes, it expands, which can crack the pipes or hose bibs.

So start by turning off the water lines inside your house. The shutoff valves are usually located near the main plumbing line that brings water into the home. Then open the spigots to drain the water in the lines. (If you have to drain your irrigation lines, you’ll need a pro.) Check the faucets on occasion to ensure that water isn’t leaking out. If it is, the shutoff values either aren’t closed all the way, or they’re leaky and need to be replaced.

Get your heating system in order
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You need to change the furnace filter monthly to maximize the heating system’s efficiency. The filters trap dust and other airborne particles, and some also catch bacteria and pollen. This can reduce utility bills while also extending the lifespan of the furnace. While replacing the filter is straightforward, a common problem is inserting the new one backwards. Make sure the arrow along the filter edge is pointing toward the furnace blower motor. Installing it backwards decreases the filter’s effectiveness.

If you have an air to air exchanger or a heat recovery ventilation (HVR) system, make sure it’s turned on for the winter. The exchanger has a couple of fans that bring fresh outside air into the home, warming it up in the process. At the same time, stale indoor air is exhausted outside. The process improves air quality in the home.

27 Oct

CMHC says the country’s housing market remains ‘highly vulnerable’

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette

The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, October 26, 2017 12:34PM EDT 
Last Updated Thursday, October 26, 2017 3:59PM EDT

OTTAWA — Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the country’s housing markets remain “highly vulnerable” with evidence of moderate overvaluation and price acceleration.

Markets in Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, Victoria and Saskatoon are highly vulnerable, the national housing agency said in its quarterly housing market assessment on Thursday.

CMHC’s housing market assessment gauges the overall level of risk by evaluating four problematic conditions: overheating, price acceleration, overvaluation and overbuilding.

“For Canada, the housing market remains at a high degree of vulnerability,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist on a call with reporters.

This comes after the Canadian Real Estate Association’s latest figures showed that the number of homes sold in September climbed for the second month in a row.

Earlier this year, home sales across the country saw a slowdown, led by Toronto, after the Ontario government introduced measures aimed at cooling the market. Sales in September were down almost 12 per cent from the record set in March before Ontario announced its housing plan.

CMHC noted Thursday that despite the recent easing in Toronto’s resale market, it detected moderate evidence of price acceleration with strong growth in home prices among all housing types.

Vancouver’s housing market remained highly vulnerable, CMHC added, with evidence of moderate overheating and price acceleration, and strong overvaluation.

Calgary and Edmonton also saw stronger overvaluation, due to rising inventory of complete and unsold homes, Dugan added, noting that vacancy rates in both cities have signalled overbuilding for several quarters.

In its housing market outlook, which was also released Thursday, CMHC says that after a boost this year, housing starts are expected to decline by 2019, but remain close to the average level from the last five years.

Sales in the existing-homes market are also expected to decline relative to the record level set in 2016, while price growth is expected to slow, CMHC says.

“High house prices particularly for single-family homes and rising mortgage rates will bring about some cooling in the pace of housing market activity,” said Dugan.

16 Oct

Real Estate: Montreal sales up 9% in third quarter

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette

 

The number of properties sold in the Montreal region rose nine per cent during the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, when compared with the same quarter last year, the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards said on Friday.

It says this is the 14th consecutive quarter of increases in property sales.

Sales rose nine per cent across the region, when compared with the same period last year. Laval saw the biggest increase, 13 per cent, followed by the island of Montreal, where sales were up 12 per cent.

Condos saw the largest increase in sales, up 18 per cent across the region.

The median price of a single-family house rose five per cent during the quarter, to $320,500, while the median price of a condo rose one per cent to $253,000

On the island of Montreal, the median price of a single-family house was up eight per cent to $455,000, while the median price of a condo was up two per cent to $300,000.

Those numbers are comparable to two other measures released on Thursday.

Royal LePage said it saw a 6.6 per cent quarterly increase in selling prices across the region, when compared with the equivalent period in 2016, while the Teranet–National Bank Housing Price Index for Montreal was up 5.76 in September, when compared with September 2016.

While the number of houses selling is rising, the number of houses for sale is falling.

The number of active listings in the region were down 14 per cent from the third quarter of 2016.

The number of single-family homes for sale in the Montreal area is now the lowest its been in a decade, the QFREB said.

It’s a seller’s market for single-family homes in most parts of the Montreal region, the federation said.

That should continue to put upward pressure on prices.

5 Oct

A Luxury Building Boom Hits Montreal

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Posted by: Frederic Pichette