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Suburban homes might be cheaper, but beware the extra costs

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

As prices in major cities move out of reach of many homebuyers, some are casting their search further to areas where they can afford bigger properties with smaller mortgages.

But suburban living can come with extra costs, like higher transportation and daycare fees, and may not add up to great savings over the long term.

About three to four years ago, about 10 per cent of clients coming to Toronto’s Stomp Realty sought properties outside the city, says co-founder Erica Smith.

Now, about half of her clients look at surrounding areas, with some moving more than 100 kilometres away to Barrie, Kitchener or Waterloo, while continuing to commute to Toronto for work, she says.

“The space that you get going outside of the city is just a lot more favourable,” says Lorena Magallanes, Stomp Realty co-founder.

Last month, the average home price in the Greater Toronto Area hit $916,567 — up 33.2 per cent from a year ago — according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Both realtors recently sold a one-bedroom plus den condo in the heart of downtown for $755,000. In the suburbs that price tag can net a house, says Magallanes.

But while suburban houses tend to be cheaper, that decision may come with daily expenses that don’t crop up with city living, they say.

Suburban life typically demands at least one car. If two people continue to work in the city, two vehicles may be necessary — which then means additional insurance, gas and parking costs.

Commuters using public transit may pay more living further away and may still need a car to get to the closest station.

Families may experience higher daycare fees if increased commute times keep them away from home for longer hours.

People may travel frequently to the city for social and entertainment reasons, adding to their transportation costs.

Homeowners may choose to outsource their yard work and house cleaning if they’re strapped for time.

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5 Hacks For Working Parents To Make Your Week More Productive

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Here are five tried and tested productivity hacks that can make your work week more productive, less stressful and more enjoyable.

1. Share the load

You may want to have it all, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it all. Instead, find ways to share the load. If your partner isn’t naturally inclined to help out, assign them specific duties. And, once you’ve done so, fully accept the job they do.

Sure, you can do it better or faster, but what will you sacrifice if you waste your time perfecting something your little one will likely mess up in a few minutes?

2. Create a weekly dinner (and lunch) menu

It’s a near impossibility to choose and make a healthy meal when surrounded by very hangry little humans screaming for food. So, make things easy by planning a weekly menu. I have a roster of healthy, tested meals that I rotate through regularly.

Added bonus: creating a weekly menu also keeps the grocery bills respectable and produces less wasted food.

3. Plan your outfit

How many mornings have you screamed out in frustration that you don’t have anything to wear? Nothing can destroy your confidence than not feeling good in your clothes. And worse still if those clothes don’t fit right.

But, who really has time in the morning to assemble the perfect outfit for the workday ahead? I’m usually begging my girls to get on their socks, so I don’t. Instead, I plan my five outfits ahead of time – everything from tops and bottoms, to jewelry and shoes – that will be appropriate for the meetings and events I have planned for the week.

4. Make use of Sundays

Sundays are best spent lazing around. But, if that relaxation will leave you overwhelmed each of the next five days, you may be better served to use some of your Sunday to prep for the week ahead. Since we’re both morning people in our house, the first hours of Sunday we’re abuzz with activity. While Frank gets our laundry sorted, I’m chopping and prepping ingredients for our weekday dinners and lunches.

5. Calendar check-in

Early morning meetings, late night conference calls, and daycare and school pick up times, the work week, especially for dual-income families, can very quickly become a logistic nightmare. That’s why it’s important to take a few minutes to review your calendars with your partner. Talk about what is coming up and create a game plan to make sure everything gets done.

Take it one further and schedule in reminders to get certain tasks done (e.g., pay bills or call doctor), so you don’t forget about them later in the week.

So, there you have it, five productivity hacks that will help make your work week smoother going. Are there any productivity tips I missed? Be sure to let me know.

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Why Sushmita Sen wants to play the role of a mature woman?

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen today said having explored comedy, drama and emotions, she now wants to play the role of a mature woman in a film.

The former Miss Universe said she has been reading scripts regularly but none has appealed to her so far and therefore she is not seen on the silver screen these days.

“I have explored comedy, horror films and the depth of drama and emotions. Now, I want to do an amazing romance in a romantic film. I want to do the role of a mature woman,” Sen told.

She said the film industry is witnessing interesting times, there are young film producers, studios and a good network of distributors.

The actress said but she is taking time in doing any film as she cannot find an appealing script.

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Jacqueline shoots back to back!

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Jacqueline Fernandez has been shooting round the clock. The actress is currently amidst the shoot of her forthcoming film Drive wherein she is paired opposite Sushant Singh Rajput.
The film schedule kick started in Mumbai. Point of excitement being, yet another fresh pair to hit theatres soon.
What we learn is that the actress has wrapped up the schedule shoot of Drive and will move on to her next film shoot.
Jacky has finished the last schedule of Drive in Bombay and has taken off to London Tuesday night and joining the team of the film there.
With no break at all, the actress will enter the shoot of her next. Its definitely been a hectic period for the actress as shoots lined up with no break at all.

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Sara Ali Khan is ready to debut in Bollywood but conditions apply!

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

We are sure you must be wondering as to when is Sara Ali Khan actually going to debut in Bollywood? All we hear is of her rejecting films or getting rejected. Then there are all these stories about her mother deciding Sara’s debut film for her. Only recently we told how there are rumours about Sara getting rejected by Aditya Chopra for Thugs Of Hindostan. But now we hear that the young lady even has a clause for her debut film. Yes, you heard right. She already has conditions to be part of a film and that’s exactly why Student Of The Year 2 was unsuitable for her. (Also read: Justin Bieber’s India tour to have a string of Bollywood celeb kids including Aryan Khan, Suhana, Sara Ali Khan, Jhanvi Kapoor)

If sources are to be believed, Sara Ali Khan doesn’t want to be part of a any two-heroine project for her debut. She wants to be the centre of all attention in the film and not share the limelight. Now Student Of The Year 2 was supposed to be a story revolving around Tiger Shroff and two ladies. It was to be a love triangle. When that’s the case, her screen share for the film would have been divided with the other lady and thus, she wasn’t too kicked about it. Well, we think it’s only fair for a star kid like her to ensure that their first film manages to showcase her skills properly. After all, that’s how you will gain mileage and get better offers. We doubt there will be any dearth of offers for Saif Ali Khan’s daughter as she is gorgeous. She is just playing her cards right, we feel.

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What Kangana has to say about Azaan controversy

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Actress Kangana Ranaut says she has no problems with ‘Azaan’ but feels what Sonu Nigam said should be respected and discussed. Sonu Nigam, in a series of tweets, had described the use of loudspeakers to broadcast sermons and calls to prayers by mosques, temples and gurudwaras as hooliganism.

When asked about what she feels about the issue, Kangana told reporters, “I can’t speak for anyone but I really love Azaan… even when we were shooting in Lucknow I loved the sound of it. I’m speaking for myself.

“Be it any religious activity, be it any gurudwaras, temples or mosques I love them. I visit all these places. We even go for Christmas mass.”

The “Queen” actress feels the very point of Nigam putting his opinion on social media was that it should be discussed.

“But that’s not to say what he is saying shouldn’t be considered, that’s his opinion and he should be respected for that. And that’s the idea of bringing it on social media so that it can be discussed.”

The playback singer got his head tonsured by a celebrity hairstylist in response to a cleric, who had announced a Rs 10 lakh reward for getting Nigam’s head shaved.

The singer maintains that his tweets were against the use of loudspeakers in morning sermons and not aimed at any particular religion.

Kangana was speaking at the launch Aditya Birla Group’s ‘Liva Creme’ where she also walked the ramp, last evening.

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No clear way to deflate Toronto’s ‘historic’ housing bubble

Posted on 13 April 2017 by admin

Most policy makers agree Toronto’s booming housing market is a problem. They just can’t agree on what to do about it.

After the Toronto Real Estate Board reported that average prices surged 33 per cent in March, David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates who forecast the U.S. housing crash, summed it up this way: “This is a bubble of historic proportions.”

The debate among policy makers has now gone public, and the back-and-forth between officials at three levels of government suggests an impasse over the next steps to cool the market.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau is asking for a meeting with his provincial and local counterparts to take a “closer look” at Toronto’s housing market.

“I know that you share with me growing concerns about access to affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area,” Morneau wrote in a letter to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Toronto Mayor John Tory. The request, a rare public move, comes after a Sousa letter to Morneau last month, and was followed by a Sousa reply Thursday agreeing to a meeting “to help improve housing affordability.”

The path forward is mired in a lack of data, uncertainty on the role of foreign money, low interest rates and a strong Toronto economy. And beyond all that lies another issue: housing is one of the few drivers of Canada’s economy, meaning any policy misstep would have wider implications.

“We need to be careful to manage this in a way that doesn’t create unintended consequences,” Morneau said Friday in London, noting that while prices are climbing in Toronto and Vancouver they are stable — and in some cases declining—in other cities across Canada.

“There’s no easy answer here,” Doug Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal in Toronto, said in a phone interview. “Every single measure is going to have some kind of unwelcome side effect. Policy makers just have to accept that ahead of time.”

Here are some of the options on the table.

1) Tax Foreigners

British Columbia introduced a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax last year, triggering a slide in sales though no major price correction in Vancouver. Ontario’s Sousa initially ruled out a foreign buyers tax but is now considering it. Porter agreed that “something like B.C. did is a good starting point.”

It’s probably worth taking a look at something similar to re-balance the Toronto market, Rosenberg said in an interview, adding the British Columbia measure appears to have been effective. “Prices are off the bubble” in Vancouver, he said. While no solid data exists on the number of foreign buyers in the Toronto region, anecdotal evidence shows they are participating in the market “big time.”

The measure has its detractors. Brad Lamb, chief executive officer of Lamb Development Corp., said the notion that foreign buyers or speculators are driving up prices is “bunk.” A foreign buyers tax would “do nothing to help increase the supply of housing,’’ and slow down the creation of new homes, he said in an interview.

To be sure, Rosenberg says Toronto prices — while astronomical in the Canadian context — aren’t out of step with other major financial centres and are “not that out of whack,” based on the incomes of potential foreign buyers wanting to establish a toehold in the city. The average home price surpassed $900,000 last month.

2) Boost Supply

Supply is regularly cited as a problem, with price increases partly due to strong competition among potential buyers for comparatively scant homes for sale, reflected in unprecedented measures of tightness. Vancouver has more geographic constraints, whereas Toronto’s supply is restricted in part by Ontario’s green belt, a swath of land outside the city where development is barred.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has resisted changing that, but is instead looking at fast-tracking the development process.

3) Tax Empty Homes

Sousa last week told reporters that he’s talked to Tory about a possible tax on vacant residential properties, after Vancouver imposed a similar tax in January.

“We certainly don’t want to make decisions that have unintended consequences, but supply is limited and vacant properties hamper that degree of supply,” Sousa said, adding that the goal is to encourage use of empty homes either by selling or renting.

Both Tory and Sousa have said data is needed before proceeding with such a tax.

Dianne Usher, a senior vice president at Johnston & Daniel, a division of Royal LePage, Canada’s biggest provider of real estate services, said she doesn’t think an empty-homes tax would be effective in Toronto. “Unlike Vancouver, we don’t have a lot of vacant properties,” she said.

4) Control Rents

Governments should consider increasing incentives for more rental developments or boosting investment in affordable housing, according to Benjamin Tal, Toronto-based deputy chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

“We have to take a long-term view and this must include a notable increase in rental activity,” Tal said.

Wynne says the argument that imposing rent controls will weaken interest in building new housing “does not hold water” after a decade without significant new rental supply. Apartments built prior to 1991 are already subject to rent controls.

Toronto’s mayor expects some new measures on housing in the upcoming provincial budget, slated for the spring. “I’m assuming they are going to do something because they have kind of said they are,” Tory said in an interview Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Toronto office.

5) Support Buyers

As prices have jumped, it’s become an increasingly political issue. Ahead of a May election, British Columbia has begun to offer loans to first-time buyers to pad their down payments and is subsidizing the property tax bill on homes worth up to $1.6 million.

Ontario, with an election now expected next year, is considering similar measures. Such steps, however, do nothing to slow price growth in the market — instead, they just add more demand.

6) Raise Rates

The Bank of Canada isn’t expected to raise interest rates this year, though mortgage rates have already begun to inch up in Canada. It may ultimately be up to Governor Stephen Poloz to cool the housing market.

Barring a bold move by governments, “maybe it is time for the Bank of Canada to start playing a role and follow the Fed on a gradual rising interest rate path,” Rosenberg wrote. Home prices in Toronto have moved “so abnormally” compared to the broader economy that it’s almost like the Bank of Canada has already raised rates 200 basis points as far as homeowner affordability, he said.

7) Capital Gains

Canada currently exempts primary residences from any capital gains taxes. Sousa urged Morneau to hike the inclusion rate for capital gains — hike the tax, in effect — for secondary or investment properties. Sousa argued the federal government could “reduce speculative investment” while raising government revenue.

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Google expands ‘fact check’ info in news searches

Posted on 13 April 2017 by admin

Google will expand the use of “fact check” tags in its search results — the tech industry’s latest effort to combat false and misleading news stories.

People who search for a topic in Google’s main search engine or the Google News section will see a conclusion such as “mostly true” or “false” next to stories that have been fact checked.

Google has been working with more than 100 news organizations and fact-checking groups, including The Associated Press, the BBC, CBC and NPR. Their conclusions will appear in search results as long as they meet certain formatting criteria for automation.

Google said only a few of those organizations, including PolitiFact and, have already met those requirements. But the company said it expects that number to grow following Friday’s announcement.

Not all news stories will be fact checked. Multiple organizations may reach different conclusions; Google will show those separately.

Fighting fake news

Still unanswered is whether these fact-check analyses will sway people who are already prone to believe false reports because they confirm preconceived notions.

Glenn Kessler, who writes The Fact Checker column at The Washington Post, said in an email that Google’s efforts should at least “make it easier for people around the world to obtain information that counters the spin by politicians and political advocacy groups, as well as purveyors of ‘fake news.”‘

He added that “over time, I expect that people increasingly will want to read a fact-check on a controversial issue or statement, even if the report conflicts with their political leanings.”

Google started offering fact check tags in the U.S. and the U.K. in October and expanded the program to a handful of other countries in the subsequent months. Now, the program is open to the rest of the world and to all languages.

False news and misinformation, often masquerading as trustworthy news and spreading on social media, has gained attention since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Google’s announcement comes a day after Facebook launched a resource to help users spot false news and misleading information that spreads on its service. The resource is basically a notification that pops up for a few days. Clicking on it takes people to tips and other information on how to spot false news and what to do about it.

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Ontarians’ lives in turmoil over arbitrarily suspended driver’s licences

Posted on 13 April 2017 by admin

An unknown number of Ontario residents are finding their lives in turmoil after having their driver’s licences arbitrarily suspended for offences as minor as the non-payment of a single parking ticket or for going faster than a posted speed limit.

An offender has 15 days to either pay up or dispute any ticket. If it’s neither, the Provincial Offences Court where the ticket is can then order a licence suspension.

In cases where more than three years had passed, many of these people had to go through the province’s graduated licencing program, which is designed for brand new drivers (although waiting periods such as a year between acquiring a G1 licence and a G2 were generally waived — but not always).

The Star hundreds of such people. With few exceptions, all owned up to being at fault, with some citing “poor personal management” for their predicaments. But all insisted the punishment does not fit the crime.

In some cases, people were unable to drive for work and their employment was threatened. In most cases, nobody told them their licence had either been suspended or was under threat. Most important, the legal implications were enormous because unlicensed drivers usually don’t have insurance coverage, even though they are carrying a paid-up policy.

The office of Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca was contacted for comment but none was forthcoming.


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8 Mistakes Parents Make With Preschoolers

Posted on 13 April 2017 by admin

1. Straying Too Much From Routines

Consistency is key for preschoolers, says pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann, author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions about Babies and Toddlers.

When you’re not being consistent with your routine, preschoolers get confused and may act out more or throw more temper tantrums. Altmann says, “If sometimes you let them do something and sometimes you don’t, they don’t understand.”

Your child probably wants to know why last time Mommy let her play on the playground for 10 minutes when school got out but this time wants her to get in the car right away. Or why did Mommy lay down with her for 10 minutes last night while she fell asleep but now says she can’t.

Fix it: Be consistent across the board — whether it’s with discipline, sleep habits, or mealtime routines.

Altmann says if your routine is consistent 90% of the time and your child is doing well, then so are you, and a minor exception may be OK.

2. Focusing on the Negative

It’s easy to hone in on your child’s negative actions — like yelling and screaming — and ignore the good ones.

Altmann says parents tend to focus on what they don’t want their preschoolers to do. “They’ll say, ‘Don’t hit. Don’t throw. Don’t say ‘poopy pants,’” she says.

Fix it: Notice when your child is doing something positive, and reward the good behavior.

The reward for positive actions can be your praise, or it can be giving your child a big hug or kiss. “Those types of things really go a long way with preschoolers,” Altmann says.

Tell your child, “I like the way you sat quietly and listened,” or “That was good when you were so friendly to the child on the playground.”

3. Missing the Warning Signs

Parents often try to reason with children when they’re in the throes of a temper tantrum, repeating, “Calm down, calm down.” But that’s like trying to reason with a goldfish, Borba says. “You’ve got power immediately beforehand when you can still distract or anticipate. But once the tantrum is in full force, you’ve lost it. The kid is not hearing you.”

Fix it: Figure out and anticipate what your kid’s natural warning signs are, Borba says. The usual ones are hunger, fatigue, and boredom.

So don’t take your child to the supermarket unless she’s napped or you’ve stashed a healthy snack in your purse.

4. Encouraging Whining

Does your child’s whining drive you crazy? For instance, does it drive you up the wall when, right before dinnertime while getting ready to preparing food, your child starts crying, “I wanna go to the park,” or “I wanna go play with Riley.”

Borba says parents often give in to these whines, but this only reinforces the attention-getting behavior. Your child will figure out which buttons to push and then push them over and over again.

“This is the age when your children come out of their shells,” she says. “Watch out, because they figure out what works.”

Fix it: Ignore it.

For behavior that isn’t aggressive, like a whine or sulk, you’re better off if you don’t respond to it at all. If you’re consistent, Borba says, your child will think, “Well, that didn’t work.”

5. Overscheduling Your Child

Parents often line up a slew of activities, like dance or music classes. Then they wonder why their child isn’t getting in bed and falling asleep right away after so many activities that must have made her tired.

The problem, Altmann says, is that they’re still wound up and need time to calm down. Every child needs down time, especially preschoolers, she says. Whether your child is at preschool for two hours or there all day, it can be very exhausting.

Fix it: Don’t overschedule your child or shuttle him from one activity to the next. Give your child time to unwind with free play when he gets home from school.

6. Underestimating the Importance of Play

Many parents feel they should sign their children up for enrichment programs to give them an edge. But that’s not really the case.

What’s most enriching at this age, says psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, author of Playful Parenting, is free play. That includes dramatic play (make believe), rough housing, and goofing around.

“Free play is how children’s brains develop best,” he says. “In play, children will naturally give themselves the right amount of challenge — not too easy or too hard.”

Fix it: Allow your child time and space for free play. Remember that preschoolers define play as “what you do when you get to choose what to do.”

Free choice — the voluntary aspect of play — is important, Cohen says. “Preschoolers love to vacuum or do housework, but it’s play. It’s not on their chore list. They’ve chosen to do it and they’re just doing it for fun,” he says.

7. Getting Distracted By the Daily Grind

Your child may play well independently, but that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t crave your attention. “There’s something children miss out on if parents don’t get on the floor and play with them,” Cohen says.

Not only do parents not get down and play, many parents are too easily distracted by their cell phone, email, or other multitasking. “Kids aren’t dumb,” Cohen says. “They know whether we’re really paying attention or not.”

Fix it: Set a timer, be enthusiastic, and stay involved for your designated play period with your child.

“A half an hour of concentrated play where you give your undivided attention and you’re not worried about dinner or work,” Cohen says, “is better than all day when you’re only half paying attention.”

8. Overreacting to Lies

Cohen says lying really freaks parents out. He urges parents to see the behavior as experimenting rather than as “a moral thing.”

“When children start to lie, it’s a big cognitive advance,” he says. “It’s kind of exciting and a little bit scary. It has an emotional charge. But then parents freak out and have visions of their child in prison, so they get very tense and anxious about it.”

Fix it: Don’t overreact. Know that telling a fib or two is a normal part of your child’s development.

And don’t get hung up on the lie itself, Cohen says. For instance, if your little Pinocchio is denying he had anything to do with a spill, you can say matter-of-factly, “You feel bad about that and I understand.”

 Effective parenting takes time, patience, and love. It also takes remembering that changes may not happen overnight. But as the old maxim goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And again.

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