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What’s On in Toronto This March


It’s the final month of winter (hopefully), and there are a slew of events to keep Torontonians occupied as they count down the days until spring.

At the Gardiner Museum, the hotly anticipated Ai Weiwei: Unbroken exhibition offers a mix of iconic and never-before-seen works from one of the world’s most significant living artists. On until June 9, the show examines Ai Weiwei’s exploration of social justice and dissent. More: Ai Weiwei: Unbroken

The fourth annual Winter Brewfest brings beer lovers to Evergreen Brick Works on March 1 and 2. Craft brewers from Ontario and Quebec, such as Side Launch and Northern Maverick, will be serving more than 150 varieties of beer, complemented by nibbles from Toronto food trucks. More: Winter Brewfest

The country’s largest garden and flower festival, Canada Blooms, returns to Toronto from March 8 to 17. The Enercare Centre will be filled with floral designers and garden builders showing off their skills, as well as a variety of educators and exhibitors there to share tips and tricks for the best blooms and greatest gardens. More: Canada Blooms

If you have little ones, you might already know that PAW Patrol is bringing its live show to Toronto on March 15, 16, and 17. The heroic canines will take to the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts to search for Mayor Goodway, who has gone missing during the Great Adventure Bay Race. More: PAW Patrol

Tiny Condos: How Torontonians Are Making Them Work


Whether it’s a passing fad or a new lifestyle trend, with city real estate prices in the stratosphere, a lot of Toronto home hunters are opting for tiny condos.

But what does that mean?

Sometimes called “micro condos,” at only 200 to 400 square feet, these tiny spaces make Toronto living affordable and a bit challenging too. For starters, they require a minimalist attitude and some serious space-saving creativity. There’s no room for excess here. Only the essentials will fit.

That means paring down and doubling up.

A table might serve as a desk. A bed becomes a sofa when company comes. A wall holds the TV, shelves, and rods for hanging pictures, clothes, book shelves, or all of the above. An attractive storage box doubles as a coffee table. A microwave and hot plate often do the work of a big kitchen. The tiny oven provides extra storage if there isn’t enough under the bed. And a balcony, if you’re lucky enough to have one, can double the living space.

Mostly, it’s young urban professionals, students, or folks who crave a pied-a-terre who choose to live micro style. And since they want to be downtown, that’s where these little residences are being built.

Rent one for less than $1,000 a month or purchase a stunning view and foldable furniture at under $250,000, less than half the cost of an average apartment. Micro dwellers explain they’ve found precisely what they want: a tiny space with a big impact.

Apparently, the old adage rings true. Good things still come in small packages.

‘Dear Seller’ Letters Offer Unique Negotiation Strategy


You’re probably familiar with letters to Santa. You’ve most likely heard of letters to the editor.

But have you heard of a homebuyer letter? In some areas, buyers are including these communications when they submit offers to purchase a home. If the trend grows, these messages could become common documents among real estate paperwork. Here’s the scoop.

What is a homebuyer letter?

These notes are designed to make a buyer’s offer more personal and appealing. The goal is to encourage the seller to choose the writer of the letter over another buyer.

In hot markets, a seller may receive multiple offers at once and must then choose which offer to negotiate or accept. To make their offer stand out, buyers are using these letters. They are written to sellers to plead the buyer’s case, offering reasons the seller should accept this offer over others.

What is included in the letter?

The exact details vary from letter to letter, but many contain similar details. Buyers often mention the features of the home that they love, discuss how they plan to use the house, or reassure the sellers that they don’t plan to make significant changes to the home. This can prove helpful in situations where the seller has lived in the home a long time or the property has been in the family for generations. Buyers may also include personal information such as hobbies and professions to try to further connect with the seller.

Does it work?

Apparently, it can. Real estate agents have reported instances when sellers did not choose the highest bid because of a letter included with a lower offer.

Of course, this tactic is not guaranteed to work. For many sellers, the price is all that matters. And to others, the letters can come across as corny or inappropriate.

Is this a good strategy to use for your next offer? Should you polish up your writing skills and submit a homebuyer letter? Maybe.

Consult with your real estate agent to determine what’s best for your situation.

Ask an Expert a.k.a. Us!


Should I order a home inspection for the home I am purchasing?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is why.
Buying a home is likely one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make. You want to make sure it’s a good one. A home inspection can help with this. The inspection can reveal home defects that you would otherwise remain unaware of until after you move into the property. Then, it’s too late. By using a home inspection to discover issues up front, you can either walk away from a potential money pit or negotiate with the sellers to make the repairs or for the price of repairs to come off the purchase price.

Considering the amount of money and time you’ll be pouring into your home, a little extra of both up front are well worth your while. And if the inspection reveals no concerns? That’s great too. You can then have peace of mind knowing you are buying a property with no hidden issues. It’s a win-win.

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