Neighbour Etiquette

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Our relationships with other people help define who we are and a good relationship with your neighbour is no different. You have invested a lot of time and money into your home and filled it with your loved ones and your most prized possessions, so why not extend this love into the community. A strong and safe neighbourhood depends on the people living in it. Investing in a positive relationship will benefit everyone.

Communication

One of the easiest ways to prevent problems is to stop them before they begin. Taking a few minutes to be friendly with a simple hello or a smile can go a long way in developing a good relationship with your neighbours. Be approachable so your neighbours are comfortable coming to you if an issue arises. Being able to talk out problems will go a long way in maintaining your relationship.

Reconcile Problems

Keep in mind your relationship is what you make of it. You should be comfortable approaching your neighbour if there is a problem, but looking at the big picture. A good neighbour is a blessing. Disagreements can happen, but taking the time to work it out will only benefit you in the end.

Be Respectful

Consider their lifestyle. Being respectful of noise levels can levels can go a long way in cultivating a good relationship. Saving noisy lawn work for afternoons and keeping quieter evenings will help neighbours overlook nights you wish to entertain late. Respect each other’s privacy. Your neighbours don’t want to hear your business as much as you don’t want to share it.

Finally don’t be the person everyone on the block is talking about. Control pets, share parking spaces and maintain your lawn.

Benefits

Having a good relationship will not only eliminate stress, it will also make your home and community safer. Knowing people around you can give you a sense of security and can make you feel more secure when you are away from home. Not to mention many neighbours become great friends.

Jennifer Birch

March Break Fun

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Let the fun begin! March Break is right around the corner and for Burlington students, that means an entire week of fun with family and friends as they enjoy their much-deserved holiday.

Start and finish this March Break by registering now for the Royal Botanical Gardens Jazz Brunches, happening March 13 and 20! As a lead up to the RBG summer concert series, this blooming Burlington venue is offering spring breakers a delicious brunch served alongside smooth jazz performed by some talented local musicians. After brunch, be sure to tour the Mediterranean Garden and check out the Reptile Rendezvous exhibit on now at RBG.

The City of Burlington is offering a wide variety of camps at local community centres for children aged 4 to 14 years old. Each day offers something new and exciting – sign up for one or two days, or register for the whole week! Daily themes include: Amazing Adventure Playland, Bowling, Laser Tag, Swimming and The Movies. At Haber Recreation Centre, kids aged 9 to 14 years can sign up for the March Tripper Blast, a full day program just for youth. Activities will include day trips to Aerosports Trampoline Park in Brampton and Chicopee Tube Park in Kitchener. Visit https://www.burlington.ca to sign up for city run March Break programs.

What’s spring break without a little retail therapy? Shoppers can visit Burlington Mall or Mapleview Centre for some great seasonal sales and exclusive bargains. Enjoy a walk through the mall and a tasty meal in the food court or one of many excellent restaurants.

If you’re hoping to get outdoors this March Break, Burlington is filled with great parks and trails, ideal for an early spring hike. A stroll along the shores of Lake Ontario followed by a nice lunch is a picture perfect outing for any family.

Bronte Creek Provincial Park (BCPP) in Burlington is a popular March Break destination for locals and visitors alike. BCPP offers plenty of fun activities over the break, including camping and the park’s annual maple syrup festival. Visit Bronte Creek for dates and times.

Jennifer Birch

Tax Deductions for homeowners

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Tax season is here and if you’re like most Canadians, you’d love to find a few ways to keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket. If you’re a homeowner, there are a few tax breaks to look into before filing for the 2015 tax year.

First-time homebuyers can still claim $5,000 if they purchased a home in 2015. Qualifying homes include single-family and semi-detached houses, townhouses, mobile homes, condominiums, and apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings. Some co-op housing also qualifies, so it’s worth checking if you bought a co-op property in 2015.

A home purchased by or for a person with disabilities also qualifies for the same $5,000 tax credit regardless of how many homes they’ve owned before. As long as the person is qualified for the disability tax credit, they can claim the $5,000 homebuyers credit.

Senior homeowners, or those who live with them, can claim the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit for any improvements to a home that help a senior live safely. Available in Ontario only, renovations for wheelchair accessibility, grab bars, railings and other features qualify for this tax credit, regardless of income. The credit is based on 15% of eligible expenses up to $10,000. The new Ontario budget has killed this credit, so 2016 is the final year to claim it.

Additionally, seniors living in Ontario who own their own home can apply to receive the Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant (OSHPTG). This program allows seniors to receive a $500 per year grant toward their property taxes. You apply each year so seniors applying on their 2015 tax return will receive the grant for their 2016 property taxes.

Work with your tax professional to make sure you take advantage of all of your qualifying tax credits for 2015.

Here are additional resources:

Homeowners: CRA Tax

Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit

Ontario energy and property tax credit

Jennifer Birch

New Downpayment rule now in effect

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If you’re in the market for a new home this spring, a recent change to the rules surrounding insured mortgages might affect you.

The new rule came into effect on February 15, 2016 and will affect buyers shopping for homes with price tags over $500,000.

Homebuyers will now have to put at least a 10% down payment on the portion of the price of a home over $500,000. For anyone buying a home for $700,000, that means the minimum down payment will rise to $45,000 from $35,000. Any home under $500,000 still requires only a down payment of at least 5% and Properties valued at $1 million and above still require a minimum down payment of 20%.

The new rule will affect first-time buyers in expensive markets more so than homeowners looking to ‘move up’ to a larger home, as they will have built-up equity in their current home, which they can put towards a down payment on a more expensive home.

Over the past seven or eight years, the federal government has made a number of important changes to insured mortgages. According to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the latest change was made to “contain risks in the housing market, reduce taxpayer exposure and support long-term stability.”

If you have any questions about the new mortgage rule, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Jennifer Birch

New rebate to encourage buyers to Go Green

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For anyone looking to make your home more energy efficient, you’re in luck. The Government of Ontario recently announced the creation of a new program to help Ontarians improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
The province is investing $100 million from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to provide rebates for homeowners who conduct an energy audit on their property and then complete retrofits recommended by the auditor.

According to the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), offering rebates has been a great way to help consumers make green decisions when it comes to home retrofits or renovations. Between 2007 and 2011, the province administered the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program (HESP), which provided homeowners with up to $150 towards the cost of a pre-retrofit energy audit, and rebates of up to $5,000 for retrofits. This program helped over 428,000 homeowners complete energy audits and 380,000 to complete retrofits.
OREA has been a strong advocate for provincial funding to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Most recently, OREA made new rebates a central recommendation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs during the committee’s pre-budget consultations. The association’s two-pronged recommendation for helping homeowners reduce energy consumption also includes inserting an energy audit into a standard home inspection.
“According to our research, three quarters of home buyers make an inspection a condition of purchase,” said Ettore Cardarelli, Chair of OREA’s Government Relations Committee. “Inserting an audit into a voluntary home inspection would give buyers important information about the property along with recommendations for how the new owner can improve energy efficiency of their home.”
For more information, visit Ontario Green Investment Fund.

Jennifer Birch