If you suffer from allergies, you know how a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing can wreak some serious havoc on your daily life, especially during the summer months when pollen, grass, and ragweed are at their peak. According to the Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation, 20% to 25% of Canadians suffer from allergic rhinitis (sometimes referred to as “hay fever”). But some allergens aren’t seasonal and can cause you irritation throughout the entire year if you don’t address them at the source.


From pet dander to mould and dust, there are many indoor sources of allergens that can leave you sneezing and wheezing. The good news is an allergen-reduced home is possible, you just need to know how to minimize the most common household allergens.


What are allergies?

Allergens are microscopic substances that cause an immune response when your body encounters them, either through inhalation, touch, injection, or consumption. Typical allergies symptoms include:


  • sneezing;
  • coughing;
  • runny nose;
  • itchy, watery eyes;
  • itchy skin;
  • asthma;
  • gastrointestinal; and
  • anaphylaxis (the most severe type of reaction).


If you suspect you have allergies, it’s best to have an allergy assessment done by a healthcare professional to identify your specific triggers. 


Common allergens found in your home

The first line of treatment for allergies at home is to avoid them. The main sources of allergens within your home are:


  • pets and pet dander;
  • rugs and carpeting;
  • upholstered furniture and fabric drapery;
  • bedding, pillows, and throw blankets;
  • damp and moist areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements;
  • indoor plants and flowers; and
  • mattresses.

Controlling allergies in your home is easier than you might think. Once you identify the source, purchasing a few products and developing good cleaning habits can help keep those allergies at bay.


1. Air filtration

Since most of the common home-based allergens are airborne, improving air quality should be at the top of your list. High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters for your central heating and air conditioning system are a good place to start. Portable air cleaning devices that use HEPA filters have become more affordable and commonplace in the home, too, as have UV light filters that can help reduce allergens. 


Using a dehumidifier can reduce the dampness and moisture that can cause mould. Cigarette smoking should always be avoided within a home and you might want to reconsider using that wood-burning fireplace.


2. Clean smart

If anyone in your family suffers from dust allergies, it’s important to stay on top of cleaning. Vacuuming flooring, mattresses, and upholstered furniture once or twice a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter can reduce dust mites and dander. Robotic vacuums can help you stay on top of cleaning…without having to do the work yourself. When dusting, it’s best to start at the top and work your way down to avoid lingering dust particles falling to areas you’ve just cleaned. 


And toss that feather duster! Opt for a damp microfiber cloth that’ll trap dust versus just moving it around. If you’re allergic to housework (yes, literally) wear a mask to avoid breathing in dust.


3. Pay attention to pets

Depending on the severity of your allergies, people who have allergies to animal dander often avoid having pets. If you can’t live without your best friend, there are ways to minimize your allergic reactions. First and foremost, keep them out of your bedroom. This means closing your door when you leave the house or committing to training to teach them boundaries. Frequent brushing and bathing can capture skin cells, reducing their spread around the home. Clean pet toys, beds, and accessories regularly, too. Lastly, if your pets have long fur, ensure you’re giving them a wipe down when they come inside during outdoor allergy season to help prevent them from tracking in pollen. 


4. Stay cool and cough-free with A/C

There’s nothing like a refreshing breeze through an open window on a warm summer day, but you’re essentially inviting allergens into your home. If possible, close up those windows and use your air conditioning system instead. Not only can it prevent outdoor allergens from getting in, but a cool, dry house can also reduce dust mites and mould. Maintain an indoor temperature between 20 C and 22 C, and keep relative humidity at 50%.


5. Reconsider your flooring

Rugs and carpets are notorious traps for allergens. Removing area rugs and replacing carpeted areas with hardwood, tile, or vinyl reduces allergen build-up. If you do choose to go with a rug or carpet, consider short-pile or no-pile styles, or washable rugs that can easily be tossed into the washing machine.


6. They shall not pass! 

Like with pets, pollen can also hitch a ride on those who are entering your home—on clothing, boots, and hair. Prevent it from spreading by addressing it immediately at the entrance of your home. Remove shoes or boots outside, hang jackets and coats in a closet, and keep a laundry hamper nearby if clothing needs to be removed and isolated. Heading straight to the shower can help rinse away allergens from skin and hair.


7. Do the laundry

Dust mites are extremely common and found in almost all upholstered furniture, fabric drapery, bedding, pillows, throw blankets, and plush toys. Toss anything machine washable into the laundry every week to help reduce dust mites and pet dander. And if possible, wash in hot water.


Allergies can derail your day—or season!—even when you’re in the comfort of your own home. But, by following these steps, hopefully you’ll be breathing easier in no time.


This article is for informational purposes only and not to be taken as medical advice. 

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Things are changing in Canada’s real estate landscape. 


After a scorching year for real estate in 2021—when home prices smashed records and sales volume rose above the norm—there appears to be a slowdown in the marketplace.  


According to the latest numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), home sales recorded by Canadian MLS® Systems dropped 5.6% between May and June 2022. Sales were down in three-quarters of all local markets, led by Canada’s biggest cities – the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Greater Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Burlington, to name a few.


The shift in the marketplace from a hot seller’s market to a balanced or more buyer-friendly one can feel uncertain, especially for people in the process of listing their property.  


We asked REALTORS® across Canada about how the market performed pre-pandemic, why it’s changing now, and what home sellers can do to prepare.


Where has the market been before? 

A seller’s market occurs when there are more buyers than homes on the market, leading to more competition and higher prices. On the flip side, a buyer’s market occurs when there are more homes compared to purchasers, and prices tend to be lower due to increased supply. A balanced market is somewhere between the two.  


Toronto and Vancouver were recently in a notable seller’s market, a trend that only accelerated during 2020 and 2021 as buyers reevaluated their needs during the pandemic and sought out new living quarters.  


Right before the pandemic, we were a little more balanced. Due to the pandemic, the seller’s market was abnormally strong. There was just an intrinsic need for more space at home. For everyone, their lifestyles were completely changed; spending more time at home, working from home, kids not going to school and [therefore] needing the space.


This hasn’t been the case for every market in Canada. In Calgary, the transition into a seller’s market has been more recent. A seller’s market didn’t start to emerge in the city until mid-2020 and fully surfaced in 2022, a pattern that formedas out-of-town buyers relocated to Calgary during the pandemic and existing residents upsized their homes.  


What happened in 2020 and 2021 is we saw some increases in prices. We saw multiple offers coming together, and things happening that way, but when we turned into 2022, something just took off, and there was a lot of out-of-town interest, more than what we saw before.


Only recently, Calgary has been flirting with a balanced market in areas outside of the downcore core, such as Airdrie, Cochrane, and Okotoks—most of the city is still in a seller’s market. Meanwhile, the transition to more balanced and buyer market conditions occurred in Vancouver and Toronto started earlier this year.  


Why is the market changing, and what does it look like these days? 

In terms of why Canadian real estate markets are changing, it comes down to multiple factors.  


The most obvious reason would be a rise in interest rates, which have been increasing since the Bank of Canada announced its first hike to its target for the overnight rate in March 2022. In July, the Bank moved up the target rate by one whole percentage point to 2.5%. This increase has forced buyers to qualify for a mortgage at a higher rate.  


In some cases, higher interest rates have limited buyer purchasing power. Some purchasers who wanted to buy in early 2022 held back on buying in hopes the market would cool. However, their purchasing power has since reduced as monthly mortgage payments grow with rising interest rates. 


The sales-to-new listings ratio was 51.7% in June—the lowest level since January 2015. In its report, CREA noted about 75% of local markets were now balanced, and a handful of others are in buyer’s market territory. 


Higher rates have affected some segments of the market differently. According to Davelle Morrison, a Toronto-based broker with Bosley Real Estate Ltd., condos, which tend to be less expensive than single-family homes, have been faring better than their detached counterparts.  


As interest rates increase, it’s stopping people from spending more and more money on houses because houses are far more expensive than a condo.


Seasonality is another element at play. In a normal real estate cycle, the summertime leads to a slower market as people go on vacation and travel. Families tend to plan their home purchases around the school year, prompting them to buy in the spring and move during the summer when school is out. In 2022, this pattern has been amplified by the effects of the pandemic as households take advantage of a more normal summer after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.   


Another contributing factor, Yao explains, is that many families already made their move during the last 18 months while demand for more space was high—the need for extra living space has been fulfilled over the last year and a half by the majority of buyers.


How can home sellers navigate the current market? 

With the market different from where it was a year ago, home sellers may need to adjust their expectations. With fewer offers and showings, strategies that worked to sell a home in 2021 may no longer be the right fit.   


It may take a little longer. You may have to concede to some of the buyer’s needs and wants and negotiate. A year ago, if you were trying to sell, you didn’t need to try and negotiate; there were 20 offers for you to choose from. Right now, negotiation has become key and bringing in offers becomes key. They won’t just fall in your lap anymore.


The key marketing rules for selling a home still apply: taking good photos, improving your property’s curb appeal, and making the best first impression to buyers with good staging. Mazaheri explains in a cooler market, marketing is crucial for generating a buzz about the property that will draw in purchasers and their offers.  


Chamberlain says you typically need to sell your home three times—online, during a drive-by of the property, and during the showing. While you can’t control the surroundings of your home, it’s important to be upfront with your marketing, even if there are things about the home the seller may feel will be a turnoff for buyers.  


Whenever you’re moving from a seller’s market where it feels like anything will sell to a buyer’s market where there’s more competition, the more truthful you are in your marketing and realistic in the expectations of what the buyer is going to see when they see the property, that’s going to help you sell your property,


Sellers also need to be prepared for change during the process. Morrison explains they may experience fewer showings and offers these days and should be prepared to drop their price if needed. 


If you’re looking for advice on the changing marketplace, recruit the knowledge of an experienced REALTOR® whether you’re buying or selling a home. 

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What constitutes a basement apartment?

Separate from the living spaces above them, basement apartments can often have more square footage than standard apartments, depending on the unit. Basement apartments can also have a more straightforward renting process as it's up to the owner's discretion rather than a building or property manager's laid-out application process. 


As a general rule, provincial regulations and city bylaws typically stipulate the minimum standards that qualify basement apartments as legal. Differing from province to province, mandates typically specify the number of exits required, window size, the minimum ceiling height, unit size, access to utilities, and compliance with fire safety and electrical safety regulations. These regulations are why it's essential to work with a REALTOR® when looking for a place to rent, as they'll be able to tell you if all the requirements are being met.


For example, in Quebec, regulations are based on the apartment's location and the accessibility of an open (free from anti-intrusion bars) egress window large enough for an adult and child to climb through, should an alternative means of escape be required. Whereas in Ontario, where a basement apartment is legally referred to as a "secondary unit," windows must equate to at least 5% of the living floor area and 2.5% of the bedroom floor area.


Multiple codes at varying levels need to be met for a basement apartment to be considered legal. Again, taking Ontario and Quebec as examples, Ontario-based apartment rentals have to adhere to the Ontario Building Code standards, as well as Fire Code Standards. Similarly, basement units in Quebec must meet what's outlined in the Régie du bâtiment du Québec's standards.


Local regulations should be checked, as municipalities have the power to permit or prohibit basement apartments in their zoning code.


What should renters consider when looking for a basement apartment?


There are also two types of basement apartments to consider in Canada. Determined by how and where their exits open and are located, walkout basements—which open directly to the street level or a backyard—are one option, while entirely or partially underground basements with stairs leading down to a private exit are another. With a walkout basement apartment, you'll typically have your own entrance; in a wholly or partially underground unit, you may need to go through a shared entrance. 


Another consideration is whether a full or partial basement will work best for you. Full basements are generally the same size as the main level; as implied by the name, partial basements tend to be smaller. So, if it's just you, maybe a partial basement would be fine. But if you're looking for a space that accommodates your pets, it might not meet your needs. 


It's also worth noting here that, contrary to popular belief, basement apartments can be bright and spacious!


How can a REALTOR® help when renting?

There are many benefits to enlisting the help of a REALTOR® when looking for a rental unit. From a protection perspective, teaming up with a REALTOR® means renters will be afforded the same level of assurance as buyers or sellers. 


Regarding time-saving, REALTORS® can help whittle down the potential hours spent sifting through listings, booking viewings, and travelling to and from different locations. REALTORS® also have in-depth knowledge of the local market, so renters stand a better chance of securing the best deal, not to mention they're able to provide specifics about neighbourhoods of interest. Plus, your REALTOR® is in the know about all the documentation needed to be signed, sealed, and delivered to secure a unit.


As a renter, it's essential to do your due diligence, but when it comes to renting any apartment, basement apartments have added considerations you'll want to keep in mind.

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After two years of remarkable growth in the Canadian real estate market, the housing industry is experiencing a change. Perhaps it is a path to normalization, or maybe it is a sharp correction. Whatever the case may be, it is unlikely that Canada’s housing market will continue the meteoric growth it has enjoyed since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.


Indeed, many trends are forming in Canada: interest rates are rising, mortgage rates are going up, sales activity is slowing down, prices remain high, and supplies fail to meet strong demand. Because of this, many market participants – buyers and sellers – have questions. As a result, they are turning to Google to have their questions answered. But what exactly are they asking about anyway?


Here are some of the most popular queries that Canadians have about one of the world’s hottest real estate markets:


5 Most Googled Questions About Canada’s Housing Market


#1 What is Going on with Canada’s Housing Market?

The Canadian housing market is starting to slow down. Average selling prices have decreased, and the market is expected to continue to cool down, with average prices continuing to decrease.


According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the volume of homes sold in June 2022 was down by 23.9 percent compared to the same period a year ago. This trend has been occurring since February and indicates the market’s direction in the coming months because spring and summer are typically strong months for home sales. Therefore, home sales are projected to return to their pre-crisis levels finally.


#2 What is Affecting Housing Prices in Canada at This Point?

Housing prices in Canada are affected by lending rates as this rate can make mortgages more expensive for buyers and impact homebuyers’ purchasing power. Higher mortgage rates are dragging prices lower.


The market saw significant affordability deterioration during the pandemic, and many investors and end-users piled into the housing market as it advanced. But now, as sales and prices trend downward, buyers are being forced to accept lower offers. Many people now want to dispose of their properties as the change in interest rates makes it unaffordable for them to continue carrying the properties they have already purchased.


#3 When Will the Housing Bubble Burst in Canada?

The rapid pace of the market over the last two years has made talk of the Canadian housing bubble front and centre. Also, interest rates during that time were at historic lows, allowing Canadians to take on enormous levels of debt that climbed to record highs, thus making them more vulnerable to economic downturns. Now, the housing market is slowing, and some forecasters are alluding to the idea that home prices will moderate further in 2023 and 2024.


However, any bubble chatter is purely based on present market trends. Furthermore, low supply levels and high demand work against the idea that the Canadian housing bubble will burst.


#4 What Needs to Change to Make Housing More Affordable in Canada?

There is a need for governments to put in resources and build and maintain social housing. During the last two years, the housing market made it impossible for many families with limited incomes to afford rent, let alone buy. People need to earn wages that align with the growing annual inflation rate and market dynamics. The housing market is not equipped to provide affordable housing for low-income families. This can only change if the governments step in.


In addition, many people bought properties that were affordable for them during the pandemic because of low-interest rates. However, since borrowing costs are swelling, recent homeowners may not be able to sustain their own once their mortgage renewals are due.


#5 What Canadian Housing Market Trends Should One Watch Out for in 2022?

Once again, interest rates will likely continue to rise, which was expected after a series of drops during the pandemic. Now that the economy is bouncing back and slowly recovering from the economic impact of the last two years, mortgage rates will climb amid the central bank’s inflation-busting tightening cycle.


Low supply in the Canadian housing market will continue to be a source of concern. Nearly 1.2 million people are expected to immigrate to Canada by 2024, and these people will need a home. Will the housing market be able to match this demand? Industry experts are doubtful.


Looking Beyond 2022

Market analysts and real estate agents are noticing that the real estate market is slowing down, whether in the major urban centres or rural communities. As a result, the Bank of Canada (BoC) has signalled that it will accelerate rate hikes to combat soaring price inflation. But the concern is that the economy will slip into a recession, potentially impacting the real estate market in the process.

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