Toronto MLS in New Stratus and Realtor.CA and how we all need to learn, learn, learn!

If you are not learning something new every day and every hour – you are falling behind
If you are learning a little bit – you are kind of sitting in the same spot
But to move forward, and move forward at a decent pace your really have to kick that lazy bum of yours and work hard on mastering new stuff!

Today I finally made myself to go to the New Stratus – Toronto MLS course. Just so you know, my bum is not designed for sitting down for any period of time exceeding 30 min and if I am not overly excited about the stuff I am doing, my attention span turns into a one of an oyster. But I have to admit – today was good, fulfilling and satisfying and I would really love to share some of those great things with you. You might know some of it or not, but here is what happened to be new to me:

1. New Stratus and Toronto MLS are 2 completely different systems and what you do in one is not reflected in the other: per say in Toronto MLS you can program up to 150 prospect searches! And you can do another 150 in New Stratus

2. Toronto MLS will be discontinued at some point, however the exact date was not released yet. So, my fellow Realtors, sign up for the course!

3. New Stratus is a real time system. Realtor.CA takes 24 to 48 hours to update. So, for the home buyers – you might be drooling all over that awesome new home while it was gone of the market 2 days ago. Just get yourself a good agent to keep your fingers on pulse of the real estate market 🙂

4. Unavailable listings in New Stratus, such as expired, sold, terminated go back to 2 years.

5. Archives for residential listings go back to 1986 and for commercial to 1999

6. The last and most important: it appears that some agents have no idea how to add and edit their listings correctly, so you have to use pretty creative search criteria to get some good results for your client. Just an example – was searching for residential-detached in York-Newmarket. 3 listings popped up for Bruce Peninsula! – Huh?

And with this being said – Happy Learning Everyone!

Successful People from Our Neighborhood – Chris Chapin, Vice President at Mutual Transportation

Please, welcome, Chris Chapin, VP of Mutual Transportation, optimistic, fun and upbeat. Working at Mutual Transportation for me was a pleasure, working with Chris – a treat. Unlike many other "bosses", Chris would always back you up, help to resolve any ugly situation and will have you walk out of any stressful encounter smiling. As they say, people will forget what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel. Chris will make you feel valued, appreciated and supported.

Chris Chapin in his office

Chris, even though, I already introduced yourself, lets do it again. Just tell us who you are and what you do, please!

Continue reading

Some More Mortgage Terms and Rates

Here are some more terms explained to stay sane in an ocean of mortgages. And the rates we are getting this week are as following:

3 Year Fixed Rate 2.95%

4 Year Fixed Rate 3.09%

5 Year Fixed Rate 3.39%

Variable rates: The interest rate on a variable-rate mortgage is tied to the bank’s prime rate. The prime rate, in turn, goes up and down according to the overnight rate, which is set by the Bank of Canada. A variable rate mortgage can typically be locked-in at a fixed rate, but sometimes there is a fee. Ask your lender for more details!

Fixed rates: These rates are locked in for the length of your term, and they tend to be higher, but you’re paying for peace of mind. The payments, and the amount of interest that you owe, will not change during the term. These rates are dictated by supply and demand in the bond market, which, in turn, is influenced by world events – anything from the European debt crisis to the health of the Chinese economy to the health of Canada’s manufacturing sector can push these rates up and down – that’s why it’s so difficult even for experts to know where rates are headed.

Open: An open mortgage means you can pay the mortgage down or off entirely at any time without any penalties. These typically carry a higher interest rate.

Closed: A closed mortgage means that you will be restricted to how much of the principal you can pay down ahead of schedule. Most mortgages allow what are known as pre-payments or extra payments towards the principal of about 20 per cent per year. Check with your lender for more details. Some mortgages allow you to double up on your payments.

More on the topic:

Mortgage Basics

Houses in Art – Thomas Kinkade

Thomas Kinkade is one of my most favorite artists ever. American painter passed away just last year. He often called himself a "Painter of Light". Hugely criticized by some and immensely loved by others, just like any other famous artist. You know his paintings, you've seen them many times – computer wallpaper, candy wrappers, kiddie puzzles…..

Thomas Kinkade Thomas Kinkade2 Thomas Kinkade3

His works are full of magic, light and love. And quite often there are houses, windows always lit as if waiting for you to come home after the long day. "It's been a hard day's night, I have been working like a dog"  – and here I am heading home, where my loved ones are.

Thomas Kinkade4 Thomas Kinkade5 Thomas Kinkade6

I wish some of my feature sheets looked like his works!

Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk
Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty

Please, Don’t Let the Cat Out – you gotta be kidding me!

Not sure about some of my colleagues Realtors but this note on the listing is totally stressing me out, right to the point where I am thinking I should not even bother showing the home.

dont let the cat out

Don't take me wrong, I love pets, I am a happy owner of a cat and a dog.
Also, just a few years ago I used to own an absolutely crazy angora cat, who used to hide around the corner and fly out the door with a speed of the lightning a soon as someone would come in. Since then I have a fear of inadequate cats.
Going with the client for the showing there are a lot of things to worry about but chasing mental pets down the street. Yes, I agree, most of the times this is just overfed, sleepy kitty, too heavy to even get up, but seriously, is there a way to just keep them away for an hour or so?
It is not such a big issue with me – all I have to worry about is my reputation. If the seller sets the rules – I am trying my best to follow. And I would imagine, the seller would be pretty upset if his beloved pet escapes. But also, try to keep in mind, that for some cultures and religions certain pets aren't a very desirable companion and your chances of selling a house where the pet is present are substantially going down, especially in certain areas.
So, as they say at the rail road stations – for your own safety and protection, please, stay back of the yellow line, or follow some simple rules to make sure your house sells as fast as possible and for the best possible price:

For the agent previews, showings and open houses:

1. Keep your pets out of the house, doesn't matter if they are the size of the mouse or a grizzly bear

2. If there is no way of removing the pet – please, crate them, for their own good, as noone will step on them or accidentally let them out. Usually you get a  call in advance for all the showings, so pick a time convenient for you to make sure your pet is not suffering in a crate for longer then needed

3. Pets' bowls, litter trays, leashes, beds, baskets, etc must go away for the time of showings;

4. Please, make sure there is no smell, as an owner you might be used to it, but for the possible home buyer cat's  or dog's or bird's smell might be quite overwhelming

5. Keep all pet's food in the airtight containers and away from sight.

Pretty simple, right? Happy showing and happy and quick house sale for you and your beloved furry friends!

Open House – 2766 Folkway Dr, Unit 78, Mississauga, July 28, 2 to 4 pm

Really good price! Close to Mississauga offices, close to Willson International – know that for sure! I will be there on Sunday!

2766 Folkway Dr

Very Spacious End Unit (Approx. 1400 Sq Feet). In One Of The Most Sought After Areas In Erin Mills. Newer Furnace And Air Conditioner, Central Vac, Newer Ceramic Tiles, Newer Vanity In Master Bath Ensuite, Spacious Bedrooms, Upgraded Broadloom. Fenced Backyard With A Gate To Beautiful Parkette Located In Beautiful Erin Mills Surrounded By Mature Trees And Trails.
Fridge, Stove, Washer, Dryer, All Window Coverings, All Electric Light Fixtures. Garage Door Opener, Central Vac And Equipment. Central Ac. New Toilettes, Ceiling Fan, Newer Roof . Lowest Priced Unit In The Area

For more information go to: 2766 Folkway Dr, Unit 78, Mississauga

Foody Thursday – “Melting Moments” Cookies

This is quite a special recipe, from a very special book that was given to me by a very special person. i only got to work with her for a short period of time, but I am grateful we met.

Recipe from the book "500 Cookies" by Philippa Vanstone, given to me as a "Bye" gift by Sylvie Gilalfau. Thanks, Sylvie!

Melting Moments

For the cookies:
1 cup butter
1/2 icing sugar
1/2 tsb vanulla extract (I used vanilla sugar)
1 1/2 cup flour (make it 1 and 1/4 – will be a little easier to pipe cookies)
3 tbsp cornstarch

For the filling:

4 tbsp butter
1 cup icing sugar (this is a bit much, half should make it)
2 tsp vanilla extract (again vanilla sugar in my case)
3 tbsp fruit jam (I had strawberry)


Preheat oven to 175 C. Beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light an fluffy. Sift flour and cornstarch and stir. Using 1 cm fluted nozzle and a piping bag, pipe the mixture into 2 1/2 cm rosettes on a non-stick baking sheet. Just like this

Ready to bake

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow cookies to firm up slightly before transferring them to a wire rack to cool. (They are way to small for the wire rack – granite counter top works just fine)

Beat the butter and icing sugar with vanilla. Spread jam onto bottom of half cookies and then spread or pipe the filling onto the other halves. Sandwich together

Piping Filling

In a hot weather as we are having – store in a fridge!
Enjoy! My husband just had a couple with his beer, but I am not positive this is a good idea…..

Bon Appetit

Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk
Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty

For more recipes:
Chicken Cutlets
Potato Pancakes!
Awesome Spinach Salad

Mortgage Basics

Mortgage basics:

A mortgage is a loan to buy a home. Like any loan, interest is charged on the amount you borrow (the principal). Each mortgage payment consists of repayment of the principal, plus interest.
But there are a few characteristics that differentiate a mortgage from other types of loans.

Principal versus interest In the early years of a mortgage, a greater percentage of each payment covers interest charges and a smaller percentage covers principal repayment. As the amount you owe decreases, more of each payment goes toward paying down the principal.

Building equity The more principal you pay down, the more equity you build up in your home. Basically, equity is the amount of your home that you own. If your home is worth $300,000 and your mortgage is for $250,000, you have $50,000 in equity.

Mortgage options:
With a number of options available, you  can tailor your mortgage to your lifestyle, your current financial situation, and your risk tolerance. Here are the main choices you can discuss with your Mortgage Representative or Mortgage broker.

Amortization The amortization period is the length of time it will take you to pay off your entire mortgage. The traditional amortization period is 25 years. You may choose a shorter amortization period or greater (up to 30 years). The longer the amortization, the lower your monthly mortgage payments, but the more you will pay in interest over the life of the mortgage.

Term The mortgage term is the amount of time your mortgage contract is in effect. At the end of each term, you need to renew your mortgage for another term. This is an opportunity to consider whether you’d like to make any changes to your mortgage. Most mortgage terms are five years, though shorter or longer terms may be offered. The agreed-upon interest rate is in effect for the term. At the end of the term, you can renegotiate the rate and other details of the contract for the next term.

Successful People from Our Neighborhood – Danuta Smiechowski, Head Coach of Olympium RGC

Good day, Everyone!

Please, welcome exceptional Lady, Danuta Smiechowski, Head Coach of Olympium Rhythmic Gymnastics Club!
Danuta lives in Toronto, ON and has been the Head Coach of the Club for almost 30 years now. Wife, Mother and hush… Grandmother, she is strict and kind, loving and demanding and so modest! She never says "I achieved" or "I made it happen", but rather "I was blessed"


Danuta Smiechowski

And I was truly blessed by being able to present Danuta's life story to you!

Danuta, where are you originally from and how did you get started in gymnastics?

I was born in Central part of Poland, then I moved with my parents to Gdansk. That’s where I was introduced to Rhythmic Gymnastics. I started when I was 7 and I was doing it till University years. Gymnastics was very different at that time – it was mainly individuals. Groups started to appear when I was leaving Poland, the first group was created to go to the championships – that was very exciting time.

Do you remember any gymnasts or coaches from your “back home” time?

Well, this was very long time ago. The funny thing is, the lady who was a president of FIG (International Federation of Gymnastics) for the last 3 years – she competed when I was little. When I am trying to remember what gymnastics looked like at that time – the gymnasts used to be more mature, like ladies, women in their early 30s, as gymnastics was by far less demanding. I remember beautiful, attractive forms. First of all there was a huge difference in the audience, you could see so many gentlemen, because on the carpet you could see mature ladies, not skinny babies. I remember one beautiful lady, in white suite, she had lovely blond pony tail, very attractive. She had a very simple hoop routine, and she threw her hoop may be 1 meter high, and the entire audience went “Ahhhhh”, and she caught it and placed very high. So you can imagine what and incredible transition this sport went through.

Danuta and kids
Danuta presenting the awards to the gymnasts

Yes, same as modeling and dance and figure skating, I guess. What was your highest achievement as a gymnast?

I was in the National Team, top 3 at that time. It was called Master of Sports Level, this is like High Performance these days.

When did you move to Canada?

We moved in 1982 and it was an accident how I started working at the Olympium. We were learning English and getting adjusted, and we met a Lady, Miss Koop.

Sorry, Mrs. Hoop? That’s a good name for Rhythmic Gymnastics.

No, no, Mrs. Koop. She started Kalev Club in 1956 or around that time. So, I started working there, but the gym was so far from the place we used to live. Then my son started swimming at the Olympium, as my husband used to be a swimmer for Poland. When taking my son to the pool, my husband saw a sign, offering rhythmic gymnastics for City Toronto, so he asked who was teaching it. It appeared, that they just lost the coach and the position was wide open. And this is how I started.

So, how old is the club actually?

I started in 1986.

So, in 3 years we will have a 30 years anniversary – we should have a big celebration.

We definitely should! Actually 30 years ago the facility was not that busy, we started working downstairs, where the fitness club is, and then slowly made our way upstairs. We got some talents emerge and I started asking for the big gym – it was once a week, then twice a week, so Mike, the facility supervisor used to say: “You are like a Russian Army taking over!”

Olympium team

Danuta, Margaret and Olympium Gymnasts

Do you see any difference in gymnasts 30 years ago and now?

Yes, even 10 or 15 years ago. I am not sure what the reason seems to be, either the TV or new technology. Kids used to live their lives through the sport, they did not mind cancelling their dance party or birthday party to come for competition or practice. If someone would approach me and say “I won’t be in tomorrow, I have a sleep over” I would just make big eyes and they would immediately say “No, no that’s ok, I will just be a little late!” (Danuta laughs). They did not have that many parties or school events before….

So, you are saying they don’t have this burning desire to achieve something?

No, they do, they just don’t realize they have to work hard for it.

You mean they are getting everything too easy, everything is given to them?

Yes, even at school the program is easier. They are going from grade to grade. Before, we had to pass the exam to move to the next grade and you always had a fear that you would fail and have to stay in the same grade for another year. But then parents weren’t that busy before, we always had a few stay-at-home moms, but now when both parents are working it is quite challenging to coordinate the events.

What do you think is the most important for the girls to get more involved in gymnastics?

Well, I can’t say girls come here every day just because of pure love for gymnastics – they have to like the coach and they have to make some good friends, then gymnastics becomes a big part of their lives.

What is the most enjoyable part of working in the club?

To see the interest in learning. I was never concerned with the kids who just can’t get it at once, as long as they want to do it, to make it happen. My biggest fear ever was to see a gifted gymnast, able to learn, able to do, but she is not interested. It is such an incredible joy to see these new girls, I call them baby octopus, because they are all over the place, to see when all of a sudden little gymnast appears out of this little octopus.

What are you still trying to achieve? What is your Golden Goal?

You know what? I was blessed, I had and still have so many wonderful gymnasts, like Erica was my little jewel and many more, not every coach gets this lucky. Erica was the first one I took to international level – and it was hard, to come from Canada and introduce Canadian gymnast in Europe. We were always trying to be different – different music, different choreography, something new that was not expected in Europe.

Erika and Danuta
Danuta and Erica

Hopefully you will have many more International Gymnasts!

As I said I was blessed, I see joy in every gymnast, growing and developing, and don’t have a need to achieve more, as I already have it.

Do you like to travel?

I do, I travel a lot. We were in South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Portugal, Spain. But again, I can say I went to all these places and what did I see – Gym! (Danuta is still laughing). I remember we were in South Africa and organizers were really smart – they combined Rhythmic and Artistic Gymnastics competition. So, there were guys from artistics would do the vault or bars and girls from Rhythmics performing their routines one after another. Our girls were trying extra hard!

Where would you still like to go?

China! And also visit all the places as normal tourist!

You have a son. Is he still swimming?

Peter already has his own children.

Children? How many?

Hush-hush, he has 3. So I am triple-grand-ma, but I will ask them to just call me by the name so no one can guess, LOL. Actually Peter was doing ok in swimming, not brilliantly though, then we moved him to water polo. And he was so incredibly successful there! I was always laughing and saying that he got his good swimming technique from swimming and his great ball techniques from his Mama.

How old are your grandchildren?

Sophia is turning 8 soon, Nickolas is 5 and little Stella just turned 3.

2 girls and a boy. You are really blessed – you got all of it
And what is home for you?

I was thinking about it – I have 2 homes, one back in Poland and one here, in Canada! I am trying to maintain Polish traditions here – food, holidays, celebrations. I am not trying to be less Canadian, just want to keep our best traditions. I am blessed again!

Great, thank you very much, Danuta, this was a wonderful life story and we all learned so much new!

Please, stay tuned interview with Erica Leigh Howard is coming up soon!

All photographs – courtesy of
Olympium Rhythmic Gymnastics Club

Summer Camp will be running for another 3 weeks – feel free to call and register, all levels welcome.
Registration for the new season will begin end of August – keep in touch!

Olympium logo

Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk
Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty
and Rhythmic Gymnastics Meet Director

More Success Stories:

Lisa D'Avino – Mortgage Broker
Matin Saliev – Chef
Yevgen Aleksyeyenko – Truck Driver, Owner Operator

10 Things About Lockbox You Need to Know When Selling Your House

I know many Real Estate Agents are offering their sellers a lockbox when listing a property, but not many explain what kind of a beast this is. Just to help with some possible concerns – 10 Things you need to know when agreeing (or disagreeing) to place a lockbox on your door.


1. When putting your house on sale, the seller shall not be present at the showings. Nothing like a hanging around owner of the house will prevent a potential buyer from relaxing, feeling the atmosphere of the home and imagining being at home.

2. Lockbox got its name from the locked box, meaning there will no unauthorized access

3. A lockbox is a hollow metal box that attaches to the front doorknob or some secure place nearby. Inside the hollow area is another matchbox sized box that contains the key to the house.

4. Full time real estate agents will provide the lockbox to the seller free of charge, while some part time or discount agents will charge you for the use

5. Lockbox allows easy showings, the owner of the house does not need to be present

6. Homes with lockboxes will show more, giving them this much needed market exposure

7. Lockbox is safer than just having the selling agent carry the key, or have the key hanging in the office

8. There might be a concern, that lockboxes can possibly attract burglars. Not very accurate, as it will take a while to arrive at the code combination fast enough, most burglars do not want to call attention to themselves at the front door. They prefer a more concealed entry.

9. There was a move towards usage of electronic lockboxes, but many agents still prefer old school mechanical.

10. And the last but not least: how this actually works. Lockbox containing the house key is placed on the front door knob or other safe place. Buyer agent calls the listing agent OFFICE, not the agent direct, to book an appointment, identifies him/her self and his/her brokerage. Listing agent confirms the convenient showing time with the seller client, preferably when seller and family are not home. Listing agent informs his office. Listing office calls the BUYER agent OFFICE and provides the time and lockbox code. In turn, Buyer’s agent office calls, pages or e-mails the buyer’s agent to provide the code. There is quite a chain and all for the client’s security. Shall a stranger decide to call a listing office and get a code – the info will be never given away.

So, Dear Sellers! Get yourself a good full time real estate agent, agree to a lockbox and sleep tight – your house will be SOLD in no time!