According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association, existing home sales activity remained upbeat in November 2009. The current strength of housing demand stands in sharp contrast to weak activity recorded one year ago.
A total of 36,383 residential properties traded hands via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) of Canadian real estate boards in November 2009. Up 73 per cent from year-ago levels, activity was down just four tenths of a per cent from the highest level of activity for the month posted in November 2007. Home sales set new records for the month of November in Ontario and Quebec.
“National home sales activity last month shows how strongly the housing market has rebounded since the beginning of the year,’ said CREA President Dale Ripplinger. “As we predicted last April, the rebound in resale housing activity led the overall Canadian economy out of recession.”
The unprecedented year-over-year gain in activity underscores the extent to which demand has recovered from one year ago, when news of the global financial crisis hammered consumer confidence. Year-over-year gains were biggest in British Columbia (165 per cent) and Ontario (77 per cent).
Since the beginning of 2009, some 437,507 homes have been sold through Canadian MLS® Systems. This is up five per cent from activity in the first 11 months of 2008, but below levels for the period in each of the previous three years.
The national residential average price was $337,231 in November, a gain of 19 per cent compared to one year ago. For the year-to-date, the average price is up 4.4 per cent compared to the same period last year. The year-over-year increase in November continues to reflect the high degree to which the average was skewed downward last year by plummeting activity in Canada’s priciest markets, and then upward by rebounding activity. Average price in November edged back from the peak reached in October.
The price trend is similar but less dramatic for the national MLS® weighted average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. The weighted average price climbed 13 per cent on a year-over-year basis in November. This is a smaller increase compared to the year-over-year gain of 14 per cent recorded the previous month.
The residential average price in Canada’s major markets was up 20 per cent year-over-year to $368,665. As with the national counterpart, the price trend is similar but less dramatic for the major market weighted average price which rose 11 per cent from last November.
The return of strong demand and headline average price gains is beginning to draw more sellers back to the market. Seasonally adjusted new listings coming onto Boards’ MLS® Systems across Canada rose five per cent on a month-over-month basis in November to 69,110 units. This is the biggest monthly increase since January 2008.
Despite the uptick in new listings, the sharp rise in resale housing demand continues to draw down inventories. There were 183,710 homes listed for sale on Boards’ MLS® Systems in Canada at the end of November 2009. This is down 23 per cent from levels reported one year ago, and the seventh month in a row in which inventories have declined from year-ago levels.
Nationally, there were four months of inventory in November 2009 on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest level in more than two years. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of months of inventory in November 2009 stood at five months, up slightly from the previous month (4.6 months). An increase is normal at this time of year, since demand tends to ease relative to supply over autumn and winter months. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
“The latest batch of seasonally adjusted statistics may reflect distortions in the seasonal adjustment procedure due to an extraordinarily weak housing market one year ago,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “Deteriorating housing affordability will reign in sales activity as the overall economy further improves and the pool of buyers who qualify for financing shrinks.”
Once you get your tree home, you will need to do a few things to keep it fresh. With proper care, the average fresh Christmas tree should last at least five to six weeks.
The main thing your tree needs is water. You've probably heard of several home remedies that suggest you add something to the water, such as aspirin, 7UP or Sprite or even bleach! You don't need to do that. Plain water will do just fine.
Once you bring your tree home, if you are not going to set it up immediately, you should put it in a bucket of water in a well-shaded area out of the wind. Most retail locations will put a fresh cut on the tree -- trimming about one-fourth to one-half of an inch (0.64 to 1.25 cm) from the base. It can take as little as four to six hours for the base of the tree to sap over. When this happens, a seal is formed and the tree will no longer take water. If this does happen, you can make another fresh cut and place it in water immediately.
You can trim your tree even after you have put it in a stand. You can cut back some of the bark along the base, exposing the pinkish layer underneath, or you can drill a few shallow holes along the base. This works because it is not the center of the trunk, which absorbs the majority of water, but rather the outermost rings just below the bark. One of the easiest ways to make sure your tree is getting enough water is to select the best tree stand. The average Christmas tree can use as much as 1 gallon (3.79 liters) of water a day, and you should check the water level daily. The general rule of thumb, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, is that one quart (0.95 liters) of water is required for each inch (2.54 cm) of the trunk's diameter. So, if you have a tree that is about 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall with a trunk that measures about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, you will need to have a stand that holds at least 1 gallon (3.79 liters) of water.
When shopping for stands, be sure to find out how much water the stand holds when a tree is placed in it. Many simply tell you how much water the stand holds without taking into account the displacement that occurs once the tree is in the stand. The stands shown below are examples of really great stands.
In addition to keeping your tree watered, you should not place your tree near anything that could be a possible heat source. Avoid fireplaces, furnaces and air vents. It's really amazing that something that starts out the height of a quarter turns into a big, beautiful centerpiece for the holiday season. Please remember that when the season is over, you should remove your tree before it dries out. Several communities recycle trees by chipping them -- check with someone in your area about this service.
Facebook's new privacy controls make it easy for users to present different information to business contacts and personal friends, but only if the user is willing to accept the added complexity involved in doing so. It's not difficult, but requires time and thought.
This means segregating friends into appropriate sublists and being willing, if necessary, to adjust the privacy settings for each individual post. If you are willing to do that, a single Facebook account can present your life in different ways to different groups of people.
Chiefly, this allows you to keep business contacts from seeing blatantly personal posts or friends from seeing what you are saying to coworkers, customers, etc. This adds value to being your friend on Facebook, by showing your friends only posts they might actually be interested in seeing.
The privacy update, which began rolling out to the service's 350 million members last Wednesday, remains a work in progress. Facebook has already made inline changes to the available settings, once again allowing Friend Lists to be made private. Key to maintaining separate, if sometimes overlapping, business and personal lives on Facebook are new settings that allow posts to be displayed to "Everyone," "Friends," or "Friends of Friends."
There is also a "customize" option, which allows a post to be shown (or not shown) to specific individuals or groups. The same post can include some people and exclude others, as you choose. None of this is useful, however, if you don't create at least one group within your Facebook Friend List. This is done from your Friends page, using the "add to list" button to the right of each friend's name and picture. These lists can also be used with other privacy settings, allowing you to change how your profile and other information are seen, such a preventing business contacts from seeing your religious or political affiliations.
Experiment with small lists first. You also don't have to assign every friend to one or more lists, but you may choose to.Some users will find it makes sense to create a list of business users and use it to help target posts. Others will find it easier to include/exclude a list of personal friends. Create some sample lists and see how you would use them with typical posts.
This is not a perfect solution: If you want totally separate business and personal Facebook identities, you need separate Facebook accounts. The downside is that you will sometimes have to post the same item to both identities if you want it seen by everyone.
Also, expect some leakage between your lists, if only because you sometimes forget to adjust the share settings and a post goes to everyone that was meant for one group or the other. Still, the new privacy settings can make it easy to show different groups of friends mostly just what you want them to see. And they can also keep you from your friends with posts they won't care about.
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