Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

Home is where health begins. From carpets and wall colours to window shades and overhead lighting, your home can play a role in how much you weigh, your mood, and even your cancer risk. It's important to eliminate toxins, pollutants and other health risks from your home. There are many small changes that you can do to make your home healthier and improve your mood. The following recommendations can be implemented immediately and won't cost you anything.

1. Keep Pollutants Outside
With every step you make outside your home, your shoes come in contact with all kinds of toxins (oil, gasoline, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, dirt and more). Leave those pollutants outside.
Make it a habit to take your shoes off as soon as you walk in the door of your home. Place a chair or bench near the door and place a shoe basket or shelf near it to make it easier for your family and visitors to take off their shoes by the door. This will cut down the amount of dirt and allergens brought into your home.

2. Use Natural Cleansers
Commercial cleansers may make cleaning easier, but they may also contain carcinogenic ingredients, respiratory irritants and even pesticides. Try safer cleansers such as a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean tubs and toilets, salt to scrub kitchen sinks and borax for laundry.

Once you try cleaning with non-toxic cleaners you'll find it hard to believe you ever used harsh chemicals. Not only do they work just as well, they smell better, don't make you dizzy and don't pose a health risk.

3. Clean Smarter and More Often
The greatest health risk for children at home comes from the dust that gets on their hands from crawling on the floor and touching dust-covered surfaces, exposing them to dust mites, mould and pet dander, all of which can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.

To keep dust to a minimum, dust every few days with a slightly damp cloth, to prevent the dust from returning to the air. Avoid furnishings that trap dust, such as drapes, carpeting, throw pillows and stuffed animals. Wash curtains and slip covers regularly in hot water.

Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter, and use it twice a week. If you are building a new home consider a central vacuum system that vents outside. This will help remove dust and debris from settling back into your home.

4. Breathe Fresh Air
Fresh air saturated with oxygen is essential for healthy indoor living. A properly ventilated home will also help release humidity that may build up, condense and cause bacteria, dust mites and mould.
Whenever possible, open the windows to allow old air out and fresh air in. In colder or humid months, use a mechanical ventilation system to help keep indoor air fresh, dry and comfortable.

It's very important to ventilate areas of your home that may have increased air pollutants such as the basement, laundry room and workshop. Glues, paints, solvents, laundry detergents and even just dirty clothes can all cause unwanted air pollution. Keep all of these stored properly in a well ventilated area.

5. Stop Smoking
Take the smoke-free pledge. Don't smoke in your home or let visitors do so. Small children are most vulnerable to the health risks of second-hand smoke such as allergies and respiratory disease. If you must smoke, go outside. Moving to another room or opening a window is not enough to protect your children.

6. Drink Clean Water
Clean water is essential for good health. If your water comes from a municipal supply it is tested regularly by the water authority. If you have a private drinking water well, test it periodically.
On the way to our taps, water can pick up asbestos from old concrete pipes, rust, lead particles and dirt. The glass of water you take from the tap has had a long eventful journey but it is clean enough to drink. However, it could be cleaner and better for you if you use a good in-house water filtering system.

In order to keep your water filter functioning effectively, it is important to change the filter cartridges on a regular basis.
7. Inspire Healthy Eating Habits
Keep a bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables on your kitchen counter to encourage healthy eating and cut down on bad snacking habits.

Fresh fruit is best for you and your kids. Choose different colours to give you the widest variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body needs. Choose whole fruit over fruit juice. Often juice has lots of added sugar and preserving chemicals. Whole fruit has more fibre and will leave you feeling more satisfied.

8. Give Your House a Mood Boost
Research shows that a naturally lit home will help ease blues, insomnia and may even boost concentration. Whenever possible open the curtains and allow sunlight in. Equip your home with broad-spectrum light bulbs that closely resemble daylight. Research also shows that good lighting helps prevent overeating.

Keep a bright bunch of flowers in the living room. A vase of vibrant flowers along with green plants help generate a positive mood around the house and helps reduce stress, fatigue and illness. Indoor green plants also help reduce carbon monoxide.
Cut down on heavy and loud music. Play soft, classical or country background music to create an easy atmosphere to help you unwind.

9. Encourage Family Activities
Reduce the use of TV in your home and encourage family activities. Excessive TV watching has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Place a Chess or board game in your living room. Playing board games familiarizes young children with letters and numbers, builds hand-eye coordination and encourages kids of all ages to interact with others. Board games can be a stepping stone for discussion about almost anything. Strategy games like Chess or Monopoly provide opportunities to talk about not only the game itself, but how it applies to the real world, real problems, etc. and most importantly helps build family bonds.

The choices we all make on a day-to-day basis can make a huge impact on living a healthy lifestyle. With just a little forethought and initiative, we can make our homes healthier and happier for all family members.

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

When selling your home it is important to take advantage of every trick in the book to get your home sold as fast as possible and for top dollar. One of these tricks is called Home Staging.

Home Staging is a proven system for preparing properties for sale. It helps to make your house seem bigger, brighter, cleaner and an ideal dwelling for almost any prospect that inspects your home. Staging helps prospects visualize themselves in the house and allows them to mentally make it their home.

Staging is not designed to make your house more liveable for you and your family. In fact, it is a bit of hardship to live in a staged house during the selling process. You and your family will literally be out of your comfort zone. Everything that makes your house your home will for the most part be gone. But remember: this is only temporary.

Having your house on the market can make things challenging for you and your family. At times, your agent will give you short notice that a "hot prospect" wants to see your home right away impacting you and your family. So anything that can shorten the time on the market, like Home Staging, will be well worth it, even if it means a little more temporary discomfort.

Staging is more than just cleaning, painting, and making repairs. Your aim is to present your home in the best possible light to win the hearts of prospective buyers. With Staging, the focus is shifted from the furnishings to the home itself, the views, the space and the unique features of the property. Staging is about getting your house sold.

Home Staging involves de-personalizing your house, reducing the furnishings to bare minimums and creating vignettes inside each room. It may also include the use of the accessories to highlight your home’s best architectural features. Common accessories might include:

  • Mirrors
  • Cut flowers in attractive vases
  • Fresh fruit
  • Up lights, table lamps and floor lights
  • Ottomans
  • Pillows and baskets
  • Scented soap bars
  • Fresh towels
  • Ironed crisp bed sheets

You might be tempted to feel that since you're selling your house and moving to a new one, you don't want to invest any more money into your existing property and save that money for your new home.  Do not make this mistake!

If your house doesn't have that certain appeal and lacks attention to detail, real estate agents will be less inclined to show the property, simply because they know what your competition is doing and their time and their buyer's time is valuable—why waste it on a property they know most buyers will pass on?

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

The kids are long gone, you’re sick of mowing the lawn, and you’re tired of paying to heat and cool a nearly empty house. Why not downsize?

"Less square footage doesn't necessarily equate to less living". Sarah said while entertaining a small group of friends in here stunning city view location within walking distance of her workplace and health club in downtown neighbourhood.

Sarah's new space fits her tastes and lifestyle, having lived with her husband Jim and two children for over 22 years, she realized that she was a slave to her house. "My two kids had moved out, and the idea of using only two rooms (the bedroom and kitchen) out of six, didn’t make any sense. So with some anxiety, we decided to downsize. I joked with my husband that we would have to give up a lot if we moved into a condominium. What we gave up was flights of stairs, shovelling snow, putting out the garbage, raking leaves, cleaning out the eaves troughs, maintaining the furnace, and landscaping to name a few!" Sarah Said.

"Downsizing is about committing to change as much as it is about deciding where to put the furniture. Instead of dwelling on the negative and what you're leaving behind, think about what the positives are; a smaller space often takes less maintenance, leaving more time for hobbies" she adds.

While moving to her new place, Sarah had to give up many of her possessions, yet by focusing on what she was creating instead of what she was giving up, she was not only able to simplify her lifestyle but found new ways to use some of her most prized possessions.

Condos life has many advantages, because the space is smaller, you may be able to spend more on the quality of live and details. For example, you may be able to afford Italian marble for your kitchen counters because there's less counter space.

As a busy downtown Realtor, Sarah says most of her downsizing clients have decent equity in their existing homes and are moving into the city because they want a lifestyle change. Although they are willing to give up square footage, they still want amenities such as fitness facilities, kitchens with granite counters as well as stainless appliances and spacious master suites.

Condos offer more opportunities to socialize; you will meet neighbours in the halls, the lobby and the laundry room. You will also have the opportunity to meet (and argue!) with them at your association's monthly board meetings. Condo living is a good choice for low-key, sociable types who enjoy getting to know other residents. When buying a condo, keep in mind that happy neighbours are a sign of a responsive, well managed building.

Most condos are equipped with security doors and intercom systems. Many also offer alarms, security cameras, and 24 hour doormen and lots of neighbours. Security conscious buyers and extensive travelers can rest assured that their homes will be watched and maintained while they are away.

A private, waterfront lot with magnificent views is way out of reach for most buyers; Condos ownership makes this attainable for most buyers. With access to luxury, high-end locations such as city center, waterfront, or art-district, is one of biggest perks that condos offer over single family homes.

“Now that I’m a happy condo owner I’ve discovered that my downsized lifestyle offers many upsides. My husband and I are having the time of our lives. We have adopted an active lifestyle, with long walks on nature trails and short hops to local attractions by public transport. We now take in live theatre, music, and ballet. We try out new restaurants and get “recharged” by the breathtaking beauty of the waterfront” Sarah Said.

On average, condos are much more affordable than houses, making them an excellent fit for individuals who want to lower or limit their housing costs. Clearly condos are the economical choice for retirees hoping to downsize, or first time homebuyers trying to enter high-end markets.

In her new one-bedroom loft in the lakeshore neighbourhood, Sarah enjoys a stunning city view . By focusing on what she was creating in her new space instead of what she was giving up, she was not only able to simplify her lifestyle but found new ways to use some of her most prized possessions.