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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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Covid-19 altering Canadians’ housing needs: RBC

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Amid a pandemic-driven shift in demand as well as a surge in new listings, the Canadian housing market remained strong in August, RBC Economics reports.

Citing preliminary data from local real estate boards, RBC said that markets in many areas of the country remained “red hot” in August.

“But the bigger story might be that Covid-19 is now prompting more people to sell,” the report said, noting that new listings surged in urban centres such as Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

“We think this in part reflects the pandemic altering the housing needs of many current owners — who are opting to move, something they might not have considered just a few months ago,” it said.

RBC noted that the Toronto market saw new listings jump 57% year over year in August, powering a 40% increase in home sales.

Sales were up more than 20% from July’s near-record levels, it said.

“Clearly, [that] market has fired on all cylinders this summer, making up for the major disruption caused by Covid-19 in the spring,” RBC said.

The primary drivers of sales activity and higher prices were low-rise homes, including single-detached homes, RBC reported.

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RBC’s customer base makes it a favourite of cyber attacks – security experts

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Royal Bank of Canada is among the most targeted institutions by cyber attacks due to its broad customer base, according to an analysis by Palo Alto Networks.

From December 2019 up to present, cybercriminals have been establishing malicious pages disguised as websites by major companies to conduct phishing attempts and other similarly invasive attacks.

RBC ranked third in the most spoofed domains list, more than streaming giant Netflix and professional networking portal LinkedIn. PayPal and Apple ranked first and second, respectively.

“When you look at the broad customer base that RBC has, it makes sense, especially when you compare it to some of the other big names,” said Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director of threat research at Palo Alto Networks. “These attackers are going after [domains] where they can make the most money, so they’re focusing on these organizations that have really broad customer bases because that really ups the number of potential victims.”

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, Miller-Osborn outlined what consumers should be looking out for to filter our fraudulent emails.

“Typically, the ones that are going to be scam-related are trying to invoke some sort of emotional response,” Miller-Osborn said. “So they might say something like ‘Someone tried to change your password, click here to say whether or not that was you,’ or ‘Click here to confirm this charge on your statement,’ or ‘We’ve locked your account for strange activity.’ Essentially, things that will make people anxious and will make them want to click first, and not take a step back and pause to think, ‘Is that really the kind of email that my bank would usually send?’”

Other red flags include misspellings and basic grammar errors in the message, especially the sender line.

“Attackers try to closely mimic domain names, so you might see the number zero substituted for ‘o’, or a one substituted for the letter ‘l’. Little thing like an extra ‘s’ or ‘c’ in the name. These things, people tend to glance over very quickly and not notice.”

Miller-Osborn said that these measures should be done in concert with the most effective step in deflecting a spoofing attempt: Calling the bank and asking them if the email that they supposedly sent was legitimate.

 

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Queen confirms new home at Windsor Castle with Buckingham Palace for ‘selected events’

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The Queen will be returning to Windsor Castle in a matter of weeks, with Buckingham Palace only used for ‘select events’.

Her Majesty and her husband Duke of Edinburgh will first spend time privately at Sandringham when they leave Balmoral next week, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

She had been spending summer at her retreat in Aberdeenshire amid speculation that she would not return to the capital amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will depart Balmoral Castle during the week commencing September 14 to spend time privately on the Sandringham Estate.

“Subject to the finalisation of the autumn programme, Her Majesty’s intention is to return to Windsor Castle in October and to resume the use of Buckingham Palace for selected audiences and engagements.

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