Many of us have bought or sold a home that has been nicely staged, in which a seller brings in new, sometimes expensive, furniture and decor on a temporary basis in order to cast their home in the best possible light.
Does home staging really work? Will it help a home sell more quickly or at a higher price?
Most Realtors believe staging works. However, independent research on the subject is hard to find, and the available evidence is inconclusive.
In many cases, sellers just need to make cosmetic changes to their home before it is listed. This can include everything from removing clutter to hiding excess furniture to replacing personal artifacts and can extend to repainting the walls.
It is somewhat clear, that a cluttered home is not only unattractive, but could be interpreted as a signal of inattention to house maintenance on the part of the owner. Simply put - buyers are attracted to neatness, and simply cleaning up a home, display pride of ownership will almost always sell the home more quickly, and for more money.
A full staging involves replacing the owner's furniture with rented items while the home is listed, with the living room, kitchen and master bedroom the most likely to be upgraded.
Staging can last from a minimum of 2 months up to 6 months or longer for expensive homes, with costs ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on how extensive the changes are.
While a full staging, no doubt enables a home to show at it's very best, it is unclear that the added expense will net out a higher dollar volume for the seller.
According to a recent poll, visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity we engage in, by far.
The average 10.5 trips to the library that adults reported taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in 8 other common leisure activities.
We attend live music or theatrical events and visit national and historic parks about 4 times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities on the list.
The data was collected last month - and update from a December 2001 survey. The overall rankings at the beginning of the millennium remain the same today, but a small decrease has occurred in reported trips to the movie theatre.
It was also found that women report visiting the library nearly twice as frequently as men do and that libraries are visited most by adults in low-income households and least by adults in high-income households.
The highest average activity rates are among the 30-49 age group, while the lowest is among those 65 and older.
Conclusion: Despite the proliferation of digital-based activities over the past 2 decades - including digital books, podcasts, streaming entertainment services and advanced gaming - libraries continue to endure.
Without an internal combustion engine - and all the other components such as radiators needed for one to safely function - all-electric vehicle manufacturers are beginning to realize there isn't anything stopping them from making a truly unique automobile.
That's why Canoo, a company making electric SUVs has just opened up its waiting list for a lounge-like electric SUV that looks like it's straight out of Blade Runner.
The Canoo speaks loudly to the modern green urban-dweller. Many of them consider automobiles to be a primary driver of climate change, too expensive, or just plain inconvenient when ride-sharing options like Uber and Lyft are so widespread. So this pod-like vehicle created a unique proposition that young people can embrace.
Canoo's innovative subscription strategy is designed to reduce the EV's cost by bundling the flat monthly payment to include maintenance, registration, and insurance while charging on a month-to-month basis with no contract.
Since no one knows how much it will cost per month, the value remains unclear. But the waiting list to get yourself a Canoo in 2021 opened last week and is obligation-free.
The interior of the Canoo, which has 300 horse-power and a range of 250 miles, can be described as having furniture more than seats. The lounge-like luxury of the Canoo is meant to resemble a Zen garden, instead of a limousine. Access to the vehicle's functions is reached through the Canoo app and can be used with the driver's own smartphone or tablet.
Homeless Dubliners have a new opportunity to get off the streets under a scheme that trains them as tour guides. The social enterprise My Streets Ireland aims to give some of the Irish capital's homeless new skills and an income for showing visitors the city.
Trainees choose a theme for their tour and get help with its research and presentation. The guides receive half of the ticket sales and the remainder is ploughed back into running the project.
"I never dreamed this would happen," says Eddie Dooner, 27, who was living in a tent in Dublin's Phoenix Park, but now has his own flat. " I want to change people's views. Just because you're homeless doesn't mean you're a bad person.
Similar schemes are running in other European capitals, including Berlin, Vienna and Prague.
Many fruits and vegetables go to waste because supermarkets reject them as too ugly to put on sale despite being perfectly edible and nutritious. But Dutch social enterprise Kromkommer is helping change attitudes towards misshapen produce with a children's toy range available to parents in 23 countries.
'It shows kids the beauty and diversity of wonky fruit and veggies," says Mark Kingma, head of concept and design at Kromkommer, whose name is a play on the Dutch words for crooked and cucumber.
The bias against produce that doesn't conform to an ideal shape stems partly from past EU legislation restricting the sale of wonky fruit and vegetables even though the law was relaxed ten years ago. "Instead of ending up in the bin these wonkies should end up on someone's plate," says Kingma
The Netherlands has more bicycles than people - 22 million for a population of 17 million - and finding a space to park can be a challenge. To address this problem, the city of Utrecht has opened the world's largest multi-storey parking area for bicycles at its railway station.
The concrete and glass structure has space for 12,500 bikes over three floors, including bikes for rent. It is part of an ongoing drive to enhance cycling infrastructure across the Netherlands.
'There is still so much to be done" says Steinje van Veldhoven, a junior infrastructure minister. 'I'd like us to make better use of what I call this secret weapon against congestion, poor air quality in cities and climate change.
One of the biggest challenges families face going to a hotel is making sure their kids are happy. Imagine a giant hotel and resort made into a Lego wonderland.
It might look something like this. Yes...that's a steam puffing dragon greeting you.
The entire place is themed after the famous toy line. There are over 2,000 Lego characters to greet your kids. There is an interactive Lego castle area with pirates, ogres, and a lego filled moat!
At the 'Bricks Family Restaurant', there is a buffet station designed for children's height that serves tasty yet healthy options.
There are even 'master Lego builder' classes for kids (big and small)
And let's not forget the pool!. This pool is shallow enough for the children and has enough relaxing amenities for the adults.
And even floats that can be assembled! Now that speaks to the big kid in me.
Peaceful co-parenting after divorce isn't easy, but this dad says it's worth it. Just because you're divorced doesn't mean you can stop being nice to one another.
Billy tells us about how he woke up early to buy flowers, cards and breakfast ingredients so his kids could surprise their mom, his ex-wife, on her birthday.
'As usual, someone asked me why I still do things for her all the time,' Billy wrote.
'This annoys me. So I'm going to break it down for you all. I'm raising two little men. The example I set for how I treat their mom is going to significantly shape how they see and treat women and affect their perception of relationships.'
His point is that divorced parents shouldn't let negative feelings about each other lead to petty behaviour in front of the kids.
'Kids want to take care of their parents, and they can't do it alone. So if it's Mother's Day and the kid doesn't have anything to give to his mom...that doesn't feel good'.
It's a two-way street: On Father's Day, Billy's ex-wife makes sure their sons, ages 4 and 8, have a present for him, too.
A brave dog risked its life for 2 days over Christmas to protect an injured friend. On December 25th, a train conductor outside of Tseglovka, Ukraine told locals that he had spotted 2 dogs huddled together on the tracks.
One was too injured to move, so the other huddled close to keep it warm, pressing its friend's head down every time a train passed overhead.
Denis Malafeev, who captured the video of the 2 canines, wrote on Facebook that it was hard to rescue the injured dog because its friend was so protective.
The dogs, Panda and Lucy, have since been returned to their owners.
These 'micro-homes' are constructed of insulated steel panels and have been compared to Idea products.
One of a Vancouver company, Nomad Micro Homes products is a new addition to mega-retailer Amazon's lineup.
Nomads mostly prefabricated tiny home, the Cube, is now available to purchase online for $49,000 plus $4,000 shipping.
Made in B.C., they're constructed of insulated steel panels and have been compared to Ikea products in that they're relatively inexpensive and need to be assembled.
These two-storey, 13.5' by 13.5' by 13.5' homes are flat packed and assembled by you, or by a handyman.
Of course, $49,000 isn't the 'all in' price, as there are a few things they don't come with. There's no fridge, stove, heating system or hot water heater.
And you're going to need to hire a plumber and an electrician to connect the services.
If you want to live off-the-grid, there are add-on options such as a water treatment system and solar panels that can be tacked on.
Oh, and of course land. The land is not included.
Owners of residential and commercial property received their assessment notices last week in their mail.
For the most part, property values across the province have declined only modestly over the past year, looking at all regions and property types, but the loss in the Lower Mainland was considerably higher.
Combining all residential properties in the province, the total value was down 2.45%. In the Lower Mainland we saw total values decline 4.7%, with the biggest drops seen in single-family home values in West Vancouver and UBC, both down 16%, followed by Richmond's detached houses, down 14%, and then Vancouver, Coquitlam, Port Moody and North Vancouver single-family homes, all down 11%.
With strata, residential properties such as condos and townhomes, the only Lower Mainland area to see a double-digit value decline was West Vancouver, down 10%, with most other areas seeing declines between 4% and 9%.
It is important to understand that changes in property assessments do not automatically translate into a corresponding change in property taxes.
For example, the City of Vancouver has already approved a 7% increase in property taxes this year, which most homeowners will have to pay, even if their home has decreased in value.
For $11,800 a month, the luxury 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom apartment in Vancouver House could be yours.
Several units in the newly-completed condo tower, which was designed by internationally-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels, have recently been listed on Craigslist. The listings promise would-be renters access to the building's luxurious amenities - including a fleet of brand-new BMW's.
The 49-storey building with a distinctive top-heavy design rising over the Granville Bridge currently have 2 units for sale: a 2 bedroom, 3 bathroom penthouse for $8.9 million and a 3 bedroom, 5 bathrooms lower unit for $6.8 million.
This developer also recently unveiled the public art contribution for the project, a 4.8 million chandelier under the Granville Bridge that intermittently spins and lights up.
The Craigslists rental listings show rents for apartments in Vancouver House are on the high side - but something of a bargain when compared with another high-profile luxury building, Trump Tower.