Whiskey Jack Presents Stories & Songs of Stompin' Tom This show is officially a hot item and is now for sale. To view some scenes, go to their most recent TV appearance at www.orchardtv.com/whiskeyjack
For bookings contact Marilyn Gilbert Artists Management at 416-534-4993 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jesse Brown This is officially the most important podcast in Canada. Jesse Brown is a broadcaster, journalist, reporter...etc. with NO official ties to anyone. That makes him unique in Canadian news reporting...he is beholdin' to nobody. He's fun, enlightening and his guest tell the truth, or at least describe the truth as best they can. Check out his first podcast with CBC's Michael Enright... very good!
Ellen Roseman Blog According to her blog, "Ellen is a personal finance and consumer affairs columnist with the Toronto Star’s business section. Her columns appear Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday."
She is to the local newspaper scene, what Erin Davis it to the media scene... that is, a "must read".
Erin Davis's Official Homepage Erin always has a finger on the pulse of this vibrant city. Her blog is informative and fun. If you want to know what's happening or what's happened, don't bother listening to the news reports, go to this blog. My guess is this is one of the most popular sites in Toronto.
As I announced late last week, Karen and I spent three weeks prepping and painting and patching our own home in preparation for resale. We're moving to a condo and wanted to sell our present house before taking possession on December 15th. We called in handymen, contractors, painters, stagers, cleaners, movers, inspectors, photographers and even some guy I had never seen before (not sure where came from) and finally, last Thursday night, our home stopped being a home and became "a product for sale".
Showings began Friday and our associate Rosalee Jackson hosted the weekend open house. It was evident from the outset that we priced and presented it properly because the showings and excitement began immediately. We're happy to report that a very nice young couple bought this terrific home on Sunday night. We wish them many happy years here. They're going to enjoy not just the house and neighbourhood but the next door neighbours as well. The asking price was $679,900.00 and the final sale price was $680,000.00.
Many of you responded to our initial email and we appreciated and enjoyed your comments. While this has been a fun ride, it was very hard work and not one we wish to repeat any time soon. I much prefer being the Realtor than the client. It's easier on the nerves.
We've been asked often "why make this move"? After all, life has been good here on Woodycrest Avenue. I usually reply using one of my favourite phrases: "good is the enemy of better". Just because life is good here on Woodycrest Avenue doesn't mean it can't better in our new condo.
Now begins the arduous task of packing and moving. We'll have time for a couple more "events" here on Woodycrest so we'll find some way to fit those in also.
The big day, the big moment has come and gone. We entered the listing information on the system and there's no turning back now. It's being viewed by thousands on the mls site and all we can do now is wait for the market to come to us.
Beforehand, we did a bit of tweaking with the staging and that took an extra couple of days. This involved renting a bit more furniture and hiring a truck to transport it here. It's impressive how quickly things can get done when there's a deadline. This also meant calling back the photographer for a few touch up shots. Within 24 hours of the listing being on the system, we had make a few adjustments to the photos but all in all, we are quite happy with the final product. We strive for the same level of detail when we serve our clients but sometimes the circumstances surrounding the families involved prevent this from happening. For example, if there are small kids and dogs around, life does not react to deadlines in the same way.
I installed a sign on the front lawn a week ago but did not allow showings until now. The exception was the Exclusive open house our friend and associate Rosalee Jackson hosted for us last week. There was an army of prospects through but since the information was not on the mls, most were tire kickers. There was a slight chance we could have sold the house ourselves but it didn't happen this time (I've done this twice before with better success).
The next day, we left for a weekend in Ottawa. We had a bit of business to attend to there and it seemed like a good way to vacate the house for buyers to view it easily without us being terribly inconvenienced. If all goes well, we'll have it sold before we return.
I received an informative email from Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, Regional Director RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc. Makes for a good read. Very interesting U.S. statistics that reveal a lot about how the public values the full service model offered by most Realtors.
"October 26th, 2010
Dear RE/MAX Broker-Owners, Managers and Sales Representatives:
CREA ratification of Competition Consent Agreement
Despite all the media hoopla associated with Sunday's vote by CREA members to ratify the Competition Consent Agreement, it will be business as usual for real estate professionals across the country.
The public will continue to access listings on the MLS system or Realtor.ca, but any posts to the system remain firmly in the hands of local realtors. Under the terms of the new, 10-year agreement, CREA and the Boards cannot prevent or discriminate against 'mere postings' and members who offer 'mere postings.' CREA does not believe that such rules exist today-but if they do-they must be repealed or Boards will lose their license to operate under the MLS trademark.
So all in all, it's business as usual. Sure, consumers have more choices, but then again, they always have. Discount brokers have been around for years. There is a reason why the MLS system is responsible for 90 per cent of resale housing transactions in the country. Canadians rely on the full-service approach provided by the country's 100,000 real estate professionals. Regardless of alternatives, most people require the services of an experienced agent to sell their home.
All we need to do is look south of the border-where the process is similar-for confirmation of that fact. According to the National Post, "the U.S. Department of Justice negotiated an anti-trust settlement with the National Association of Realtors allowing internet brokers and other agents offering discounted commissions to access the MLS in 2008. Two years later, traditional full-service brokers still control between 70 and 80 per cent of the U.S. housing market, and the average commission has increased to 5.3 per cent of the sale price from five per cent in 2008."
In fact, NAR statistics provided by the National Post show 80 per cent of sellers use a full-service broker, managing most of a transaction from listing to closing. Another nine per cent choose limited services that include discount brokerage and 11 per cent opt for the bare minimum of just listing on MLS.
There's a story to be told here. Consumers place value on the services we provide as realtors and that's not about to change. Why? We have the knowledge and expertise to generate results. Few are willing to take chances with their most valuable asset. As Canada's leading real estate organization, we will continue to do what we do best-assisting buyers and sellers with the biggest financial decision of their lifetime.
Take a moment to look at our new marketing campaign on the critical role of a RE/MAX agent. It is easily found on www.FitToSell.ca. This timely campaign demonstrates the value of using a professional RE/MAX agent. It should help offset some of the negative press, until things settle.
As I said, business as usual.
Michael Polzler Executive Vice President, Regional Director RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc."
I thought we were only hours away from going to market. After much discussion over dinner, we decided we needed to think a bit more about our strategy and pricing. The discrepancies between the price quotes we received were too great to ignore. We also had to revisit the strategy we were going to use only because we wanted to be sure.
As for the pricing differential, pricing a home is not a science but an art and some of us are more artful than others. On our last house sale a few years ago, we asked four experienced agents from four different companies for their opinions and the quotes differed by as much as $400,000.00.
Our options, in simple terms are as follows:
1. Price low, hold off on offers ("offers, if any, gratefully accepted on such and such date"), market the house for a few days, allow prospective buyers time to view and consider and hopefully have 2 or more offers to view at the end of it.
2. Price higher, or at least closer to where it should sell, and "not" hold off on offers.
We are also tweaking the staging we've done. We have a lot of generous Real Estate professionals at our disposal and we're taking advantage of them but asking for their opinions. Many of the ideas we've heard are worth considering and we're about to make a few more changes in furniture placement and the like.
To see our progress to date, go to www.morethanahome.ca, click on Listings and then click on Featured Properties. There you'll view some very nice photos.
Never in my wildest imagination could I have anticipated receiving payment for one of my essays. But it happened.
I submitted an essay recently to Banjo Newsletter and it was published, What a thrill! Then, shortly thereafter, I receive a complimentary copy of what will now be my favourite issue (October, 2010) and lo and behold, there was a check for $60.00.
I know that the Nitchie family from Maryland have been publishing this magazine for over 35 years and I also know they are not getting rich for their efforts. So, I wrote to Spencer Nitchie.
What a surprise to receive the copy of BNL and the check for $60.00! Many thanks.
However, I'm not going to cash it. I wrote the article with great pleasure and did not expect it to be published. That in itself is payment enough.
BNL has been an important part of my music life for as long as I've been playing the banjo and am pleased to finally contribute something to my fellow banjoists. I'm not sure anyone benefited from my musings but it was therapeutic to have written them.
p.s. when I mentioned to my guitar player that I received a check for $60.00 he said "that's two gigs worth". Sad to say, he was right. We don't make a lot of money these days but then, perhaps that's why we enjoy it so much (there's a topic for an article perhaps)."
Today, his brother Donald replied:
Much appreciated, every little bit helps us these days. And maybe an article about the life of a gigging banjo player, and why you enjoy it
I wrote in the last post that this house will be ready to go to market in no time. We bought a condo and we'd like to sell our house toute suite. What I really meant was in 2 to 3 weeks. Holy cow! Was I wrong.
I called Prep 'n Sell on the Wednesday and they started work on the Friday. It's now a week later (actually it's been 8 days) and tomorrow is our first open house. This is how we recommend our clients react when they buy a house and have to sell. Seldom does it happen this way. It's an overwhelming project as we found out this week. I had to miss a hockey game and for this, I may never recover.
How much can be accomplished with 8 days of hard labour and a commitment from all concerned? Check this out:
1. renovate two bathrooms (tile, cabinets, floor and toilets),
2. declutter entire house (fill a 7x10 storage locker),
3. home inspection (found out we needed to call in electrician to update the wiring),
4. hire a mover to transport stuff and junk,
5. call in James the handy guy to touch up the huge garage and various other tasks,
6. empty garage (amazing how much had to be thrown out),
7. hire Stage Right, the professional stagers we use to help us get high sale prices on our listings,
8. continue working as a full time Realtor, drafting offers, returning calls etc.
9. replace an old laundry tub,
10. purge, purge, purge, purge and purge some more.
11. call in a couple of Realtor friends to offer opinions on price (doctor's never operate on themselves therefore I will never price my own house).
12. have everything ready for Ford Thurston, the photographer we rely on to make our listings look spectacular!
What makes this journey so intense is the fact it came out of nowhere. This was not planned. The October and November we imagined did not include this. November was going to be busy with a trip to the Galapagos and a book launch here at the house and lots of other stuff. Ha! Those plans had to be cancelled.
What have we got ourselves into? Buying a condo and initiating a monstrous move wasn't the most logical decision but the more I think about it, the more I like it. I'm kind of addicted to change so this certainly feeds that appetite.
We were pretty sure we would end up in a condo eventually. It suits our lifestyle. With my music and my real estate and my work with ACCESS Community Capital Fund and my other extracurricular activities related to the above, I'm out and about at least 4 nights a week. We don't use the garden as much now that we have the cottage. This schedule has condo written all over it.
I've seen many clients over the years who make a move when circumstances force them to. Then they bemoan the fact that they should have done it "before" they had to. Being forced into a situation due to health or retirement or for financial reasons usually ends up with the client buying something not quite what they would have wanted and sometimes they end up paying just a bit more than they wanted to. As I was walking through this particular condo a few days ago, these thoughts were going through my mind.
It is large, and not so common 3 bedroom unit. It had two parking spots, a large locker, a few amenities but not too many, outside space (large terrace), good unobstructed views on three sides and it's located in a very desirable and familiar neighbourhood. Given the discounts the builder was offering and given the quality finishings already installed, this seemed like an opportunity that we should take advantage of. Besides, and this is our mantra for much of what we do, if it doesn't work out, what's the worst that can happen? We'd have to move. No big deal.
What is a big deal is the next step, that is renovating our bathrooms and decluttering so we can get to market as soon as possible. I must call my long time handy man, James Gilbert and my buddy Dave Collier from Prep 'n Sell. They'll come through like they always do. We'll have this house ready to go to market in no time.
It all started innocently enough. I was showing a condo to a older couple looking to downsize. This particular condo building was new to me so I was looking forward to seeing what they had done with this design. I liked the location.
It was built on the former Wellesley Hospital site which happened to be where both my children were born.
There are two parts to the complex. The 33 storey tower offers 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units, some with terraces, some with balconies. The second part was a six storey Loft building adjacent to the tower. These units were larger, some with two levels and others on one level.
We viewed a large three bedroom unit in the tower to begin with and it was kind of a quirky layout. We moved on to another unit in the loft building and that layout wasn't quirky, but nor was it traditional. My clients rather liked it. We stayed for a long time. When we left, John asked how I liked it and I jokingly said, "if you don't buy it I will".
After reflecting on this unit for three days, my clients finally decided a more traditional layout was to their liking and they would not offer on it.
So, Karen and I bought it. The adventure begins. Stay tuned.
I've been wanting to write about bed bugs since early summer. This topic is "fraught with peril" because of the misinformation and fear that accompanies it. I've not wanted to comment until I had a better grip on the issue and how it affects people's lives. I know people who "have" and who "have had" bed bugs so this has contributed greatly to my dilemma, that is, what to say about it.
I've been following the columns of Joe Fiorito in The Star with great interest. He has been writing about this for months now and is responsible for bringing the issue to the attention of the government and the mayor hopefuls and others. At first, his columns scared the bejezzus out of me but I've since calmed down and know now that the problem is manageable, though not without money and a lot of angst.
In the 1950's, I don't recall having bedbugs at home but I do remember my mother pointing one out to me after a sleep over at a cottage in Desbarats Ontario. Can't say I thought anything of it other than the bites I received that night. That's the last I heard of them until Joe began writing about the issue.
Not everyone is willing to share their stories. If word got out that they had bed bugs, their dinner invitations might fall on deaf ears. "Sorry, we can't come for dinner. We might sit on your couch and a bedbug might crawl into my pocket and infest my own home".
Here's what I know:
# 1 -the boyfriend of my friend's daughter dropped them off at his house about 5 years ago. He learned very quickly how to get rid of them. It involved powder, spray, two way tape and a new mattress and a lot of vacuuming. Yes, they can live inside the pores of an Ikea pressed wood book shelf. However, he now knows the signs and he and his family have been bug-free for years.
# 2 - a lady I know dropped iin to see me one day at my office. She had bites on her face. "I think I have bedbugs" she told me. She was understandably upset but since she is a take charge kind of person with a lot of life experiences to rely on, I felt confident she could manage this situation and eliminate these critters quickly. I began my research on her behalf but she was way ahead of me and had the situation under control immediately. I visited her a few days later and I must confess that I had second thoughts about sitting on her couch and I was displeased with myself for not trusting her. If she said she had them under control, I believed her. She does not know where they came from.
# 3 - There are three ways to get rid of them effectively: chemicals, extreme heat and extreme cold. The latter two are the most attractive. Extreme heat is the most intrusive of the two for obvious reasons. What in your bedroom might melt at 50+ degrees? The extreme cold approach is called the "cryonite system".
I'm hopeful that with the new public awareness of the issue, and with the government finally taking notice, perhaps this cryonite system will be the final nail in the bedbug's coffin and we can begin managing this problem once again.
By the way. Rich, poor, clean dirty... doesn't matter. They like us all and can live anywhere.
There was a time when members of the Toronto Musicians Association could drop into the Imperial Room (might have been a Saturday night but I'm not sure), flash their membership card and gain entry to the show. This was the room that featured Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, Cher etc etc. To read some of Gino Empry's great stories (he was the booking agent all those years), click here.
The Imperial Room has never been replaced. There is no place left that does what they did. Except, last night, we tasted a big of the glamour that accompanied the era of the early 1900's. The locati on was Hugh's Room and the entertainment was provided by 90 year old Mickey Rooney.
He's been in show business 85 years, beginning in Vaudeville, and it showed. He had us in the palm of his hand. His voice is strong. His "timing.....!!!". Good grief! Was his timing right on the money or what.
He featured his talented 8th wife of 25 years, Jan Rooney and she too dazzled us with her style and wit.
Holmes Hook is the manager of Hugh's Room and was downright giddy as he introduced Mickey. Come to think of it, the entire staff were giddy. The atmosphere was quite unlike anything I've experienced there.
He played clips from many of his movies and spoke lovingly of Judy Garland and many of the other great stars he performed with.
Yes, he's the end of an era. Who else from that time is touring the world, doing what he does best?