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These Millennial couples found a way into the housing market by renting in the city and buying in the country

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Five years ago, Sarah Sklash, co-owner of the June Motel, visited Prince Edward County for the first time to attend a wine festival. On the car ride home, she knew it was the place for her and immediately began property shopping from the back seat.

Sklash remembers thinking at the time, “I don’t think I can ever afford a house in Toronto but I can possibly own something out here.” After three summers of working with a real estate agent, she finally found the diamond in the ruff — a now-unheard-of under $200,000 waterfront cottage. “Prince Edward County was a very different market back then,” she explains.







Sarah Sklash (left) and April Brown (right). Photo: Lauren Miller

Sklash splits her time between her cottage and the city, and many Millennials are following suit. Priced out of Toronto, they’re keeping their rentals and stepping on the first rung of the property ladder with recreational homes. The 2017 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report surveyed Canadians and discovered that almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Millennials (18 to 34 years old) expressed interest in purchasing a cottage, cabin or ski chalet in the next 10 years.

Sklash and her now-fiancé renovated the dated cottage on a budget, ripping out the shag carpets and refreshing the wood panelling with a coat of white paint. The ability to see the potential would come in handy when Sklash partnered with her best friend, April Brown, and got the keys to the June — at the time, a run-down motel by a different name that they lovingly restored into a stylish haven for wine lovers.







Photo: Sarah Sklash 

The RE/MAX report revealed that Millennials are finding unique ways to finance recreational properties, with nearly half (44 percent) saying they would purchase a property with a family member, while 39 percent would rent it out using a vacation rental site. The June Motel’s other half, April, recently purchased the Boho Bungalow — a cottage across the lake from Sklash — that Airbnb guests enjoy throughout the summer.

Rachel Kwan and her husband Jayar La Fontaine started their homebuying journey in 2016.

“Almost immediately, our first instinct was to buy out of Toronto,” Kwan explains. “We realized that we could get onto the property ladder with a house outside of Toronto, somewhere around the $350,000 to $400,000 range. We couldn’t even find a studio condo in Toronto for that price.”

They had both been working in agency jobs for a few years, but coming from graduate programs, hadn’t been earning long enough to accumulate the savings to justify Toronto’s hefty price tag.

For a year, they put aside the money for their fixed expenses like rent (still affordable, as they had been there for five years), then saved 40 percent of their combined incomes on financing the future country home — putting down 20 percent to avoid paying extra penalties on the mortgage.







Photo: Rachel Kwan 

The dream was realized last year in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom chalet-style property in Grey County.

“We love the home and we love the location. From the front window we can see all the way across the valley. You cannot get that in Toronto. Period.”

Kwan enjoys the duality of city and country life and considers both places to be home. “In Grey County, the mental load is lower and it’s absolutely gorgeous out here. Being in the city, I enjoy the diversity and convenience. I can go to a show tonight, a gallery, dine at my favorite restaurant. You have access to so much.”

Sklash shared similar sentiments: “When I bought the cottage, I was working in downtown Toronto and escaping to the waterfront retreat on the weekends. Now that my business is in the County, I enjoy the option to escape to the city — eat great Thai food, enjoy my condo.”







Boho Bungalow. Photo: Lauren Miller 

Sklash plans to continue splitting her time between her downtown condo and the cottage. Eventually, Rachel and Jayar hope to drop the rental and transition their life to Grey County full-time.

“I run an online shop as part of my business, Jayar needs access to video conferencing. It was imperative that any property we bought was well serviced by telecommunications, which can become a challenge when you start looking in the country,” Kwan says.

Their Grey County real estate agent Eric Robertson noticed a significant migration of people from the city, in large part thanks to technological advances. “People can come up here and resume their normal lives. That has opened a lot of doors for prospective homeowners,” he says.

Grey County has long been a draw for the weekend crowd coming from the city to experience the great outdoors. The Bruce Trail, skiing, some of the best rock climbing you can find in Ontario, and cycling are just a few of the area’s many attractions. “People are visiting for recreational purposes, then seeing homes for sale that are $350,000. They think, hey, we can afford this,” Robertson explains.







Rachel Kwan and Jayar La Fontaine on a Grey County cliff. Photo: Jennifer Morden 

Robertson has seen a drastic increase in the number of Millennials coming through his doors looking to get their start building home equity.

“Around 60 percent of my clients are retirees purchasing affordable homes with the equity of their home’s sale. Then there are the first-time homebuyers who are renting in the city, or even living with their parents, and purchasing here.”

Robertson explains the unique buildings are an especially large draw for Millennials — old school houses, churches, century homes, chalets and farms. Old storefronts are also becoming popular to the Millennial crowd who are turning their hobbies into businesses.

“People here are really open to younger folks coming in with an entrepreneurial perspective and contributing to the rebuild of the local economy,” Kwan explains, noting the community as one of the major draws for her. “So long as you make an effort, you will experience camaraderie — the feeling that everyone is in it together — supporting one another and supporting our businesses.”

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5 DIY Home Improvements for the COVID-19 Lockdown

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The global coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of people around the world, to spend more time in their homes this year than they have spent in a long time. As people sit around day after day within the confines of their home, it becomes easier to notice all the areas of the house that need some work. Fortunately, everyone can now afford the extra free time to do the home renovation project they’ve been putting off for years.

Due to the on-going global health crisis, you may not be able to hire any help for your home improvement project; this means that whatever new project you plan to do around the house, whether it’s repainting the home, or installing floor heating systems, you would have to do it yourself.

Here are some do-it-yourself that you may like to try out.

Upgrade to Smart Home Appliances

It’s 2020, what better year to embrace the future by installing a range of high-tech devices that make life extra easy. For instance, with a smart thermostat, your home’s heating and cooling system can go off on their own when not needed, keeping your electricity bills lower. Other appliances that you can make smart include your lighting, home security, music and more.

Clean out your Garage

Homeserve suggests a garage cleanout as a great home improvement project for this season because cleaning out your garage provides some fresh air, the heavy lifting provides some workout and you feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when it’s done.  What’s more, the day would be far spent by the time you’re done with this project. Cleaning out your garage would require you to sweep out any dirt or debris, and get rid of other useless items that may have been stored there for a long time.

Start a Repainting Project

There’s always room for a fresh coat of paint to make everywhere look more alive, so grab a paintbrush and add some extra character to your home. The good news is that you don’t even have to go out for the paint, you can have it shipped directly to your door. Southlandremodeling suggests that if you had 2019 palette or older in your home, now is the time to embrace the latest colour hues of 2020, that show off a more contemporary style and make your home look more sophisticated.

 Build a Patio

Now is the time where every family would enjoy having a paver patio or an outdoor deck, somewhere to sit and get some fresh air when you’re tired of being cooped up inside all day. First you have to ensure that your home has enough space for a patio and that you have enough skills to handle a hammer and other tools for simple construction.

Next you order your needed materials online and get started. There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes with being able to create an outdoor space that your family can enjoy while being stuck at home.

Install some floor heating systems

Installation of floor heating systems is one of the best home improvement projects that one can get. Many people prefer to hire professionals to do these kinds of installation but if you are up for it, it’s not impossible to do this on a DIY project and get a valuable addition to your home for about half the cost.

Finally

There is no reason to continue holding out on your dream DIY home renovation projects, especially now that you have all the time in the world due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Now is the perfect time to transform your home all by yourself!

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13 Montreal Apartments For Rent That Have Breathtaking Outdoor Spaces

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With Quebec’s moving day just around the corner, many people are starting to look for a new property to rent. And, now that Montreal real estate activity is back in action, you can start trying to find the perfect space again. And, if you ask me, an apartment that comes with outdoor space is a must when living in the city.

From balconies to shared rooftop spaces, we’re all looking for a place where we can be outdoors. 

Now, more than ever, fresh air is something that we’re all craving. And, with summer coming faster than we think, finding a place with access to the outside is on so many of our checklists. 

Luckily for you, we at MTL Blog have made your job very easy and have gone through listings throughout the city to showcase some of the best rentals, all of which have outdoor spaces. 

Some of these properties offer private balconies while others have surreal rooftops you get access to. Regardless of which one you fall in love with, you’ll be sure to have a summer to remember living in any apartment on this list. 

Get ready for moving day because after looking at these properties, you’re going to be ready to pack your belongings.

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Montreal real-estate market hit hard by pandemic

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Like many industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the red-hot Montreal real-estate market has suddenly chilled.

After 61 consecutive months of increases, the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area reported a 68-per-cent decrease in residential sales transactions in April 2020 compared with the year-earlier period, according to the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers.

The most recent residential real-estate market statistics for the Montreal area showed 1,890 residential sales transactions were concluded last month. Those figures are based on the real-estate brokers’ Centris provincial database.

Montreal has been hit harder than other Canadian cities by the pandemic, and the drop in sales was seen in all six main areas of the Montreal CMA.

The drop in sales applied to all three property categories. Single-family home sales fell 68 per cent (1,048 transactions): plex sales dropped 67 per cent (161 transactions); and condominium sales tumbled 69 per cent (675 transactions).

Despite the drop in sales, real-estate prices rose in the CMA. The median price of single-family homes increased by nine per cent to reach $360,000, while the median price of condominiums climbed 12 per cent to $289,900.

Compared with April 2019, the median price of plexes (two to five dwellings) increased 10 per cent to $595,000.

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