| Real Estate Advice

January Market Recap: “Declining Sales and Prices Point to Opportunities.” If you haven’t checked out our latest market report, click here!

What’s On in Toronto This Month.

Yes, it’s winter, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go out and enjoy all the sights and attractions the city has to offer. Throw on your warmest parka and heavy-duty snow boots, and check out these upcoming events!

Winter at Ontario Place has been running since December 8, and will end on March 18. Not only is the event free to attend, it’s open to the public every day of the week. Take the family and enjoy the Winter Light Exhibition, synthetic skating rink, film screenings and a bonfire to warm you up. More: Winter Light Exhibition

Why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with one of the most famous love stories of all time? On Feb. 14 and 15, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) will present selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet ballet chosen by the TSO’s conductor laureate, Sir Andrew Davis. More: Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet

If you still can’t get enough of the TSO, be sure to check out The Wizard of Oz in concert on Feb. 17 and 18. Take a journey down the yellow brick road with a live orchestra as you enjoy this film classic. More: The Wizard of Oz in concert

Head to the Danforth Music Hall on Feb. 18 to applaud the genius of the late, great David Bowie. Celebrating David Bowie will bring together friends of the legend, his bandmates and other world-class performers to perform Bowie’s greatest hits in a concert loaded with his signature style and flair. More: Celebrating David Bowie

Towards a New You: Learning Toronto-Style.

In Toronto, there’s no shortage of workshops and classes to keep you entertained and help you learn some exciting – and unexpected – new skills. For example:

Comics lovers can go from consumers to creators with Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Bootcamp. With classes running fairly regularly throughout the year, it’s open to everyone with or without previous experience. This new skill will not only help unlock your creative potential, it’ll likely make you one of the coolest people at your next dinner party.

If you’re looking for something a little different, there are archery lessons galore at Archery Toronto and the chance to master the arts of axe- or knife-throwing at Stryke Target Range. Or for a good workout that is also graceful and fun, try a belly dancing course at the Egyptian Dance Academy.

For the less physical, there are plenty of options: Playing with Fire offers regular glassblowing workshops where you can learn how to make your own original glass art, and for those inspired by that famous scene in the movie Ghost, there are many pottery classes throughout the GTA.

Not your thing? Have no fear. Toronto is a city of opportunity: From photography classes to furniture making to painting lessons to endless workshops that just might turn you into a culinary master, Hogtown has you covered. For more, check out:Unusual Workshops In Toronto or Art, Dance & General Interest.

‘Is It Done Yet?’ How to Renovate With Kids.

Spring home improvements can be stressful, especially when you’re living in the middle of it. Add children to the mix, and the tension increases.

But you don’t need to take a vacation while your home is being remodeled – even if walls are coming down. Here are some tips on how to continue to live as a family during a major renovation.

Your children’s space – and their routines – will be disrupted. To avoid comments like “When can we use the kitchen again?” share the construction schedule with them.

Prepare for disruptions: Kitchens and bathrooms are often the rooms being remodeled; unfortunately, they’re also the most used. If possible, consider completing one room at a time.

Set up a temporary kitchen in another room and prepare meals in advance that can be quickly reheated. Get the kids to help you devise a bathroom schedule; they may be more inclined to follow it if they’re involved.

Make safety a priority: Know where your kids are during work hours. Make sure they understand the safety risks, and put lots of space between them and the work. Also ensure your contractor stores tools away safely at the end of the day.

Dust can be hazardous for anyone with allergies. Plastic sheeting should be used to seal off the area under construction from your temporary living space, but you also may want to consider closing the heating and cooling vents. As well, your contractor should use nontoxic paints and stains.

Choose your contractor wisely. Make sure the company has a reputation for completing jobs safely, and be prepared to pay more for contractors who are properly insured and follow regulations. Ask them how comfortable they are with children on site and make sure everyone agrees to and obeys the safety rules.

Finally, when it’s finished, have fun together in the new space. After all, you – and the kids – deserve it.

Ask an Expert a.k.a. Us!

Everyone says I should get a home inspection. Is it really worth it?

Too often, buyers forgo a home inspection in an effort to save time and money. This is not the place to skimp. A home inspection is a crucial step in the home-buying process. Keep in mind the option to perform a home inspection is included in all standard real estate contracts. This should be a clue to buyers that it’s important.

A home inspection reveals any issues that are a safety concern or affect the value of the property. It allows the buyer to discover what items need to be replaced, serviced, or repaired immediately, as well as those that may require attention in the near future.

Buyers can use the information to decide if they should walk away from a lemon or negotiate further with the seller for repairs or credit. They can also learn a great deal about the home, including what potential repair costs to expect down the line.

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