Sock it to Christmas!

CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition  aired a show last Sunday that indicated that homeless people need warm socks more than anything else – they can’t easily launder them, so they throw them out, they do a lot of walking and wear them out, and they suffer from cold and wet more than the rest of us.

I have a homeless buddy (I give him books) and I never realized how much he needs socks. I thought, surely we can do something to help?  So  I decided to do a sock drive. My pal Jenn Goldie suggested we do it  in the form of a raffle where if you donate a pair of socks you get a raffle ticket. (Or you can buy one for $10, while quantities last!)

Within minutes of announcing our intentions on Twitter, Environics Communications (via  my Twitter pal Greg MacEachern) offered to donate a $ 250 gift basket from Fresh Flower Company; Freshii in Westboro had offered to be a drop-off point for donations as had Global Pet Foods in Hintonburg, both thanks to the amazing Karla Briones. (Greg has also offered to sell some tickets for us, as has the wonderful Steve Benson who asked for 50!)

Jenn Goldie set up a Facebook page and also managed to come up with a number of really great gifts — she’s so good at this and people have been crazy generous! See the  poster below for the full list of prizes. (I think she even has more than those now — we’ll do one raffle draw with multiple draws for prizes on December 17.)

Sock homeless Poster

I hadn’t even had time to print off raffle tickets when fellow realtors started to drop off socks at my office – when I got to work today my mailbox was stuffed full!   Lorne Scott donated twelve pairs; Theresa Seguin ten,  and Darlene Masson, who also works in our office, donated another eight pairs so we already have 30 pairs and we haven’t even launched! Catherine Duncan, another pal, has been working social media like crazy and scouting out drop-off locations for socks.

Freshii donated four big boxes today that we can use as drop-off bins, which Eric Kalbfleisch, also of our office, picked up for me – thanks, Eric!  I bought wrapping paper last night and Theresa will help me to wrap the boxes up tomorrow while Jenn runs around getting our raffle items. I hope to have our gift basket soon and I’ll start posting pictures and promoting the raffle on social media even more relentlessly than I have been, LOL!

Meanwhile, Holland’s Cake and Shake (I adore this little shop and the Pastry Overlord, Michael, who is so kind and always helpful) has offered to be a drop-off spot, as has our MP Catherine McKenna’s office. So we’ll need more bins for sure. Catherine McKenna’s office will also reach out to our PMO to see if Justin Trudeau might donate a pair – I hope he says yes! His socks have become an Internet sensation and I’m pretty sure we could pop them up on e-Bay and do some serious fundraising!

We discovered the Parkdale Food Centre has a Sock & Soups program  for their neighbours, regardless of their economic circumstances,  so we’re going to send some donations to them, but we hope to also be able to donate to the Mission, which focuses directly on homeless people.  (Alissa Campbell, the program Coordinator at Parkdale, says that they really do need women’s and kids’ socks and not just men’s so if you are considering a donation, please keep that in mind!).

We can only issue 500 raffle tickets by law, and I have a sneaking feeling we’re going to end up running out fast. But we’ll keep taking donations of cash and socks, and Sock it to Christmas!!!



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More happy clients!

Always nice to get a testimonial from happy clients and I have to say I really enjoyed working with this couple! Here’s what they had to say:

Thank you very much Peggy, it was a real pleasure working with you!  I’m in the military and I’ve bought and sold more than a few houses, and I can honestly say that I have never worked with a real estate agent quite like Peggy before; hard to imagine saying this, and this is a first… it was fun!

Peggy went above and beyond, took charge, told us exactly what we needed to do for a quick sale, and even went shopping for a few little things that put the finishing touches on a beautifully staged home.  As a result our home sold quickly for top dollar without conditions.

It would be our pleasure to recommend Peggy to anyone selling their home.

Very happy customers, Mike & Carolina.

Well, it really was a lot of fun staging this house and it sold quickly, so I’m happy that Mike and Carolina were pleased with my services.

Here are some pics of what I did to get their home ready!

In the main powder room, which you see almost as soon as you enter the home, I noticed that there were a couple of bronze accents, namely the towel bar and the toilet roll holder, both of which had little bronze leaves at the ends. And look what I found! I picked up this bronze wall hanging at HomeSense for around $15. It couldn’t have fit the space more beautifully.

That and the towels and a few small accessories really set off this room and the little bronze accent set the tone for the entire staging.

wisteria powder room

The new flush mount light in the kitchen has a bronze metal touch (Rona, $ 90 on sale) and there are bronze notes in the painting of those birches as well. I bought that painting years ago at HomeSense and it’s one of my favourites – I’ve staged probably a dozen homes with it and it goes with almost every decor. Other than that, this room was about moving furniture and re-configuring things a little, but mostly decluttering.

Wisteria 4

The new hanging light over the DR table matches the one in the kitchen (Rona, $ 120).  The bowl on the table was another purchase I made at HomeSense (around $ 15 as well), because the blue and bronze colours really pulled the scheme together.  That artwork with the feathers is one I often use: it goes well with the birch painting, both from HomeSense.

wisteria 3

The base to the lamp by the sofa is also bronze, as was one of the picture frames for the two Toti silkscreen prints hanging over the sofa (all those came from my own home). I was glad when the house sold and I could get my pictures back over my bed where they usually hang!

Wisteria LR 5

Upstairs, there was an electric fireplace in the open loft. I put a narrow bronze vase on the mantel that I also picked up at HomeSense, $ 7. The painting above the mantel was done by Frank Van Boxtel, a local artist — he was kind enough to loan it to me for staging. It worked beautifully with the colour scheme. I love it; if I had space for it at home, I would have bought it from him.

Wisteria loft

The master bedroom and bathroom were staged very lightly: I put a quilt and shams in the bedroom (Quilts: $ 60) and hung this lovely painting (HomeSense $ 40).

Wisteria MBR

I staged the bathroom with these lovely Moroccan print towels in green and white, which picked up the green in the loft and in that painting in the bedroom. You’ll see my trademark glass bowl of roses: I love putting these in bathrooms, so elegant!

The print over the toilet is one of the rare times I’ve been able to find an original signed piece of artwork at HomeSense, Bayshore – it was all of $ 18 on sale and believe me, I use it a lot!

Wisteria main bath 2

All in all, the property showed very well.  There’s nothing like working with nice people; Mike and Carolina were terrific. It really was fun!

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The beauty of good design ….#Glebe

I saw a new listing this past week on MLS that I absolutely loved. The property is in the Glebe and it’s listed by Andy and Paddy McCarthy of Royal LePage Team Realty (I work for Royal LePage Team as well but in another office). I liked the looks of it so much that I asked Andy if I could blog about some of his clients’ design choices using some of his interior pictures, and the seller was kind enough to agree.

First of all, it’s a semi-detached red brick Victorian listed at $ 849,900. The exterior of this home is gorgeous, and shows how timeless good design was back when it was built in 1900. How lovely!

Glebe 8

But it’s the interior decor choices that I thought were so stunning.

For example,  check out the wall of mirrors in this dining room. They are all different shapes and sizes and introduce a strong design element. I love the eclectic nature of this room – it melds modern industrial with vintage beautifully. Check out the raw edge of the wooden table, the banquette, the mid-century chairs: I love everything about this room, and it proves that you can mix furniture from different eras.

Glebe 2

That same sense of whimsy finds its way into the kitchen. Note how the backsplash and floor have a similar pattern (repetition is a big part of the design in this lovely home).  The little decorative touch of black-and-white accents in the note holders attached to the side of the cupboards make this colour scheme pop. Black-and-white is a timeless palette, but it’s those three little polka dotted accents that to me make this room special.

Glebe 4

I love the four rows of art in the living room. You could do this with art, family photos, or photographs: the key is that all the frames and mats should be the same size.

I am also a big fan of hanging two pieces of art one above the other or side by side, as the seller does here. And look how the wall above the fireplace becomes a feature that draws the eye with a darker grey-blue paint colour, picked up in the sofa cushions and art.

Glebe 1

I love the artwork, curtains and orange polka dots in this gorgeous children’s room (and isn’t that the best child’s crib ever?):

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Glebe 5

A mid-century Arne Jacobsen chair again adds vintage style but is also practical, as are the tidy rows of baskets for storage.

I adore the wallpaper in this bedroom closet, and that sunburst mirror just highlights its pattern. It repeats the themes we’ve seen elsewhere in this house, pulling everything together. I could build a whole colour palette just off that wallpaper!

Glebe 7

Seriously, what a gorgeous house!

With Andy’s help, the seller not only gave permission to me to use the photos of the interior but also to put up her blog link (she blogs about design, no surprise there!), so here it is and thanks, Andy, for facilitating!

If you want to see more of the inside of this beautiful house, there’s a video on Youtube, posted below. And if you happen to be looking in buy a home in Glebe, please do contact me — I’d be more than happy to arrange a viewing. I’d like to see it in person myself!


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My Take on the New Mortgage Rules

I remember asking a mortgage broker pal of mine in the summer about the rumours that OFSI (the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, i.e. banks) was going to apply the stress test to purchasers who had more than 20% cash as a down payment.

This means requiring all buyers, not just those with less than 20% down (who are required to carry CMHC insurance in case of defalt) to qualify for a mortgage at a higher rate than the one they apply for. From what I understand, under the new rules, all buyers will be required to qualify for an extra two percentage points above the rate of their mortgage, and that’s a lot.

“It will never happen,” my friend said. “Our association is opposed to it; we don’t need it, the banks are already well-protected.”

Well, as I feared, he was wrong. The new rules kick in January 1st, and they are going to make it very hard for a lot of buyers to buy anything despite having good credit and lots of cash. It will hit the self-employed particularly hard, as well as first time buyers and retirees.

So what will the impact be?  Well, put it this way: as a self-employed person with a great credit score (well over 800), lots of assets (I own a home and cottage, clear title)  and zero debt, the amount I could borrow under the last round of mortgage rule changes dropped from around $ 500-600K to  $ 360K. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but that was qualifying at the posted rate, without the stress test.

So a lot of people are not going to be able to afford to buy homes at all, even though they are extremely low risk. I think we’ll see properties listed at over $ 500K drop in value because they’ll be harder to sell. More deals will collapse on financing. More people will be forced into the rental market. So expect Ottawa rents to go up, and overall sales to go down.

I should emphasize that there is no housing bubble in Ottawa or smaller centres like Cornwall or Kingston.  The Ottawa market was slow  for the last three to four years with very modest increases in line with inflation. The average price of a home now is just over $ 415K, so we are not Toronto or Vancouver. We finally  saw prices start to rise this year– this will likely kill that momentum.

These new rules are a solution in search of a problem, and they do nothing whatsoever to protect consumers, only banks. My honest opinion is that if the regulators don’t stop tinkering with the mortgage rules, given the importance of housing to the economy, they’re going drive the country into a recession.

For eight years, ever since I started in real estate, I’ve heard pundits claim the housing market was in a bubble and on the verge of collapse. This is getting very close to a self-fulfilling prophecy, and completely unnecessary.

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What Happens to my Deposit if I get Cold Feet?

Interesting question!

The typical conditions in a house deal are home inspection and financing. These clauses usually state the buyer has the sole and absolute discretion to decide whether the home inspection report, or the financing, are satisfactory to them. If not, the deal is null and void and they get their deposit back. In that situation, both parties sign a Mutual Release and Termination (this is also signed by the real estate brokerages representing them), and the deposit is released in full without deduction to the buyer.

This  gets a lot trickier, however, where a buyer doesn’t take reasonable steps to fulfill the conditions or simply gets cold feet and walks away.

I recently had a situation where a buyer took no steps to  book a home inspection within the time period agreed to because they wanted to find out if they would get financing first.  I pointed out to their agent (after confirming my view with my client’s lawyer and my manager) that this could result in them forfeiting their deposit. It may seem clever to hold off on booking a home inspection until you know if you’re going to get financing  and save the cost, but it can get you into trouble. Every real estate deal has a clause in it that says “time is of the essence.” If you don’t get financing and didn’t even bother to book an inspection, you may not be acting in good faith.

The leading Ontario case on this is Greenberg, in which the court found that a contractual exercise of sole and absolute discretion must be exercised with honesty and good faith. This requirement was applied to a real estate deposit in a case called Marshall v. Bernard Place Corp.  While the court found no evidence of bad faith and ordered the deposit released, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed the buyer’s discretion when dealing with these types of conditions has to be exercised in good faith, honestly, and reasonably.

In Coghlan v Unique Real Estate Holdings Inc., a 2016 Ontario Superior Court decision, the seller applied for forfeiture of the deposit, and asked that the court direct the deposit be paid to him. He applied to a motions court on summary judgment (that’s where the court makes a decision without a trial). He argued the buyer hadn’t acted in good faith by relying on conditions, but instead had cold feet.

The court agreed. It held that even though the contract didn’t refer to forfeiture of the deposit in these circumstances, it didn’t have to — it was implied. It ordered that the deposit be forfeited to the seller. A deposit, the court said, was “earnest money,” and indicated that the buyer intended to be bound by the contract. The court quoted from Marshall:

The Agreement of Purchase and Sale does not provide that the deposit will be forfeited in the event that the Purchaser fails or refuses to complete the transaction. However, when the payment is a deposit, it is not necessary to include a provision in the contract. Unless the contract taken as a whole shows an intention to exclude forfeiture, the vendor is entitled on default of the purchaser to retain the deposit.

A deposit is considered to be “earnest money ” and an indication that the purchaser intends to be bound by the agreement and to complete the transaction. A reasonable deposit is usually considered to be somewhere in the range of three to ten percent of the total purchase price. In the event of default by the purchaser, the vendor is entitled to retain the deposit if the amount is within that reasonable range.

So, at least in Ontario, you can’t just walk away from a deal without doing what you said you would, and think you will get your deposit back.

The listing brokerage holding the deposit can’t release it without a Mutual Release and Termination, which as I noted, has to be agreed to by the seller. If the seller won’t sign because they think you have acted in bad faith, then the listing brokerage has to hang on to it until they are provided with a court order or a written agreement between the parties or something in writing from the parties’ lawyers directing how the money is to be paid out.

Does that mean the seller has to go to court to get the deposit?

They can, but they don’t have to. According to the lawyer I spoke with, they can do nothing, and simply refuse to sign the Mutual Release and Termination. That forces the purchaser to either apply to the court for the deposit to be returned (and prove they acted in good faith throughout) or reach agreement with the seller on  how the deposit will be dealt with. Given the expense of court proceedings, I suspect most of these situations are resolved with an agreement reached between the parties’ lawyers as to how to deal with the deposit.

The important thing is to realize  is that an “absolute discretion clause” doesn’t give you  an automatic right to get your deposit back unless you’ve held up your end of the bargain. So get your cold feet out of the way before you sign the deal – and be sure to book your home inspection right away.

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The third house I staged!

This is a lovely townhouse in Hunt Club but the L-shaped dining room was a bit of a challenge and the client had oversized furniture. I solved that by creating a couple of different focal points: the art is all mine, so are the vases and cushions.


Wisteria LR 11

Wisteria 4

The art over this sofa comes right out of my own bedroom – I thought it needed something sophisticated, and it really draws the eye. I added a large mirror over the fireplace as well.

Wisteria LR 5

I also picked out a new drum shade chandalier for their dining room and found a matching semi-flush for the kitchen, both from Rona, around $ 120 each, and there was a Scratch and Win sale so I got 15% off!

And because I had added bronze accents, I brought over a drum shade lamp with a bronze base from my own guestroom, so the space looks coherent and pulled together. Art in the dining room is again my own. (One of the frames on the artwork over that sofa is also bronze, so it all works well together.)

wisteria 3

The upstairs MBR was an easy one to stage: the seller had white bedding and some bright green pillows. I kept them and I hung a painting on the far wall (again, every room needs that graphic focal point) that had the same shade of green in it. I threw on a light gray/green quilt and shams which came from HomeSense several years ago.

Wisteria MBR

We removed the three piece folding mirror that was above the chest of drawers (so dated!) and I replaced it with a large mirror in a beautiful frame.Wisteria MBR 2

The loft sitting area was just a matter of adding a few cushions, accessories to highlight the mantle and a gorgeous piece of art, on loan from Frank Van Boxtel. Thanks Frank!

Wisteria loft

The main bathroom was an easy one to stage: no tub, only a shower, but I used some Moroccan-designed towels in green to add a bit of unexpected colour, tie that room into the MBR, and add that punch of graphics I mentioned. Once again, I used one of the floral arrangements I love to use in bathrooms (HomeSense, around $ 25). Love this piece of art, it’s one of the rare times I have found an original, signed painting at HomeSense and I grabbed it – I think it was on sale for $ 20!

Wisteria BA 1

I left the owner’s office alone, other than to declutter it a bit, but I did add a chair, again from HomeSense: he didn’t have one, and it made all the difference in the world. Note that I did not have him remove photographs or degrees; the office is the one part of a house that I think can have personal items.

Wisteria office

The back yard was a bit overgrown; I suggested the owners pull up the weeds and add brown mulch — we also took the big potted plants out of the living room and popped them in the back corner — the yard looks amazing.

Wisteria back yard 1

And then I pulled out a wicker settee they had had in the back yard and moved it to the front porch with a few outdoor cushions I  picked up at Sears and Walmart years ago on sale. Love the big bold graphic design!

Wisteria Porch 1The last room I staged was the main floor powder room: the owner had a bronze towel rack so I picked up a bronze coloured metal wall hanging for $ 14.99 at HomeSense to pull that space together. Nice fluffy towels, some soap, a floral and we were done!

wisteria powder room

We had six showings today, by the way, and the feedback has all been great. Here’s hoping it all pays off!

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New testimonial #FirstTimeBuyer

“Happy Client!

“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Peggy, I can’t thank her enough for her diligent work in helping me find and purchase my first condo. From the very start, Peggy took the time to explain all aspects of the home buying process along with answering any and all questions I had.

“Her honesty and outstanding knowledge gave me the confidence to know I was making the right decision. I couldn’t be happier, Peggy truly looks out for her client’s best interests and it shows!

“Her professional and upbeat personality helped pave the way for a wonderful home buying experience. I’d highly recommend Peggy for anyone looking to purchase their new home.

“Thank you again, Peggy!”

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