2nd Annual Brantford Beer Fest

2nd Annual Brantford Beer Fest

Brantford ‘s enthusiasm for craft brew is showing no signs of slowing down just because the summer is. The second annual Brantford Beer Fest will be taking place Saturday, September 9 at Knights of Columbus, from 3-11pm. I had the chance to catch up with Ben Feuerstein, who along with friend Chris Wagner, is one of the organizers of this growing event. Popular in cities like Toronto and Hamilton, they felt that Brantford was deserving of their own festival to celebrate and promote our local contributions to the beer scene. Both guys, lifelong Brantford residents, are home brewers themselves and drinkers of craft beer. Last year took they took a chance and decided to create the festival.

Home Prices In The Greater Golden Horseshoe

Home Prices In The Greater Golden Horseshoe

On of the biggest factors causing the rapid rise in prices in Brantford is the cost of housing compared to our neighbouring communities. To make a fair comparison I selected similar style homes in all the neighbouring cities to show you just how affordable Brantford is - and why people are leaving the GTA and KW area to relocate to Brantford.

Getting Hands On with Art in Brantford

Kim and Aliki

Kim and Aliki

Recently I was lucky to join some friends and spend a very relaxing and enjoyable evening with Brantford’s own Paint Club. Started in 2013 by Kim DiFrancesco and Aliki Mikulich, Paint Club is ‘passionate about seeing art become accessible to everyone’. Both Kim and Aliki have degrees in fine arts from the University of Guelph and UofT/Sheridan College respectively, but their very popular paint nights are designed for all levels of experience.

When we arrived at Blue Dog Coffee Roasters on Brant Ave, the evening’s venue for Paint Club, all our supplies were ready- canvas, brushes, paints, and even a great little apron. Step by step we worked together to bring our creations to life- the instructions were easy to follow and a lot of laughs were has as the night went on thanks to the relaxed teaching style of Aliki (Kim was away that evening). A glass of wine helped, too.

Ready to go at Blue Dog!

Ready to go at Blue Dog!

Not only are Aliki and Kim involved in Paint Club, they are also beginning the first (hopefully annual) Holmedale Art Crawl. After checking out the website and Facebook page I was very happily surprised to see all of the artisans that live in the Holmedale area.

“Yes, which is exactly why we thought we’d start this. We’ve all been here for years, and all been aware of each other, and realized while a lot of us have participated in the Brant Studio Tour  there are actually a lot of us congregated in this area. Often we have people out walking or on bikes and touring our neighbourhood. So we thought we could do something and include other artists that might not be part of the studio tour. We are hoping to attract makers- even if you make jam, or soap, anything! It’s a nice way to connect with each other and show Brantford what we have.”

The common thread that connects much of Aliki and Kim’s efforts is bringing art to people and bringing people to art.

When I asked Aliki how so many creative minds ended up living in Holmedale, her reaction was sincere- “It’s just a ‘neighbourhood feel’”  For her, it’s the connection with nature, and it’s reflected in the art she makes. Holmedale is one of Brantford’s more unique neighbourhoods, with classic cottage style homes and plenty of mature trees. The proximity to the Grand River makes it an ideal area for being out on the trails. Set for Saturday, May 27, the art crawl will have 21 makers at 16 locations in Holmedale. There is a great variety of mediums too:  acrylic painting, knitting, mixed media, wooden scroll saw work, candles and soaps, music and song, felted animals and pottery. 

The art crawl provides those who attend with the oppourtunity to put a maker’s work in their hands. “When we had the Brantford Arts Block, we had a gift shop with 100 local vendors- you need to have a retail space to show your work so people can feel and experience it. There’s a creative energy that goes into something that’s handmade. Online stores are great, but as far as local shopping goes we need to fill in that gap. It’s only a one-day event, but it could be the start of something!”

"There’s a creative energy that goes into something that’s handmade!"

Myrtleville House in Spring, one of the paintings taught at Paint Club

Myrtleville House in Spring, one of the paintings taught at Paint Club

The common thread that connects much of Aliki and Kim’s efforts is bringing art to people and bringing people to art. Mostly, they are busy with their very popular Paint Club. Started in 2013, and gaining in popularity each year, the club getting a great reputation for a fun night out. “We started at Blue Dog on Monday nights- we know Marie (who owns the coffee shop) and she embraced it.” Blue Dog, a favourite Brantford hub known for great coffee and baked goods, is also home to an ever-rotating hanging art show that gives local artists a chance to exhibit and sell some of their work. Also on Brant Ave is the Healthy Rabbit, another homegrown venue for great vegetarian/vegan food, live music, and art.

Brantford is once again embracing a more personal approach when seeking out restaurants and businesses as more local start-ups are enjoying success- the Starving Artists Café, our local breweries Bell City and Mash Paddle, and restaurants like The Kitchen and On The Lam. “We have such a wealth of talent and ability here, we need to foster that creative energy- little businesses that are offering things that are ours! You have to come to Brantford if you want some of that!”

Aliki and I agree that much of what’s offered locally is attended well by those who know- one’s social calendar could be full! Part of the mandate of activities like the Holmedale Art Crawl, Brant Studio Tour, and even We Love Brantford is to reach a wider audience. She believes that the success of Paint Club is largely due to Facebook- while social media can be considered ‘global’ it can also be very effective locally. “We’ve got all the makings of a really cool city and we have good people- we really do have all the ingredients! There is so much happening, it’s very exciting!”

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Aliki and Kim are bringing Paint Club to Harmony Square this August as part of a fundraiser for the Brantford General Hospital. The event will also include some of the local businesses and restaurants. “Harmony Square does a great job (for local events)- I take part every year in the Haunted House and it’s so much fun! I always enjoy the movies in the square- it’s like a drive-in without the car. And we faithfully attend the Jazz Festival!” The vision of a downtown that connects our city is gaining popularity. Construction of the amazing new recreational complex proves that the investment is genuine. “The Tragically Hip show brought so many people together,” recalls Aliki. “It was a really nice night- we walked around from place to place. How nice would it be to do that annually- that would be a great summer event, to broadcast a Canadian concert.”

The crowd at Harmony Square enjoying the Tragically Hip's final concert.

The crowd at Harmony Square enjoying the Tragically Hip's final concert.

Huge thanks to Aliki for taking the time to speak with me!

Brantford’s Arts Ecology

Brantford’s Arts Ecology

Recently I was lucky to have a great talk with Wiktor Kulinski, Ph.D. Candidate in Performance Studies & Anthropology at York University and Principal Researcher for the Arts Ecology Initiative, Brantford/Brant. Although I had some questions for him he had an even better one for me: “How do we make our community more special?” As a life long resident of Brantford, as many of you reading may also be, I got thinking- Brantford has seen quite a bit of change over time and depending on how far back you can go, Brantford has seen some great times…and some not so great. 

The 3 Best Ways To Increase Your Home's Value

The 3 Best Ways To Increase Your Home's Value

The 3 Best Ways To Increase Your Home's Value

Here are the 3 best (and cheapest) things you can do to get your home ready for sale. Full article back on our website: http://www.brantfordhomes.com/blog/category/the-3-best-ways-to-increase-your-homes-value

Posted by The Brantford Homes Team on Friday, November 25, 2016

There is so much confusion in the market today about the best way to prepare your home for sale. HGTV would have you believe that any home owner can tackle their own renovations and flip their home for big profits. The reality is- unless you are a professional contractor, it can be extremely frustrating and expensive to tackle major renovations. Many homeowners spend too much money and waste too much time on renovations that do not return them any additional money on the sale. Here are the top 3 ways to increase your home's value when getting ready to sell.

1. Paint

A fresh coat of paint throughout your home is the absolute best investment you can make when getting your home ready for sale. Studies have shown that painting your home can provide you a 500% return on investment. Choose neutral colours and keep the palate consistent throughout the home. 

2. Clean

Nobody wants to pay top price for a dirty house. Buyers pay for cleanliness. Just like fresh paint, a clean home shows buyers you care about the little things and cared for your home. If cleaning isn't your thing, a professional company can be hired for a few hundred dollars to scrub your home top to bottom- including windows, walls, cabinets, and appliances. Don't forget to shampoo carpets and scrub the areas that normally get missed like baseboards, light fixtures, and unfinished areas of your home.

3. Pack Up

You don't need to move out (in fact, studies show that vacant homes sell for less than furnished homes), but you should consider packing up about half of your stuff when getting your home ready. Bigger homes sell for more money - and the more 'stuff' in a home, the smaller it feels. Try to get each room reduced to the necessary furniture and a few decor items. Horizontal surfaces should be clear of unnecessary clutter - this includes tables, shelves, the top of cabinets, counters, and even the floor. Items that don't have a 'home' in your home tell they buyer you don't have enough storage space.

 

A whole home can be painted for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, a professional cleaning service can take care of your whole home for a few hundred dollars, and a storage bin can be brought right to your door for another few hundred dollars. These are things that combined can cause your home to sell for tens of thousands of dollars more! It's a no-brainer!

Getting ready to sell? Ask us about our premium home selling service which includes cleaning, painting, and decluttering!

3 Ways To Find A Deal This Season

3 Ways To Find A Deal This Season

The Brantford residential real estate market has been extremely competitive for buyers this year with low inventory levels pushing prices up and causing bidding wars on many homes.

If you have been shopping for a home this year and feel frustrated with the lack of choice, how quickly the market has been moving, and getting outbid on homes - we have some good news for you!

Here are three opportunities right now in the local real estate market:

Save $4,000 on Your First Home!

Real estate purchases in Ontario are subject to a provincial land transfer tax. This tax is paid by the buyer of the property and it is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price (use this free tool to calculate the amount of land transfer tax on a specific property).

For example a home that sells for $300,000 will owe $2,975, and a home that sells for $400,000 will owe $4,475 in Ontario land transfer tax.

Since 2007 the Ontario government has offered a rebate to eligible first time home buyers for up to $2,000 of the land transfer tax. In November of 2016 the Ontario government announced that the maximum amount of the rebate will increase to $4,000 starting in January 2017. 

This means you can purchase a home up to $368,000 and receive a rebate for the full amount of the Ontario land transfer tax! Homes sold over this price will receive the maximum $4,000 rebate and the purchaser will be required to pay the remaining tax.

Toronto Star article on the new rebate

To receive the rebate you must meet the following conditions:

  • You must be 18 years or older
  • You must occupy the home within 9 months of purchase
  • You cannot have owned a home or interest in a home anywhere in the world
  • Your spouse cannot have owned a home while being your spouse (but may be a previous home owner)
  • If the home is newly constructed, it must be eligible for home warranty 
  • Home buyers must apply for the refund within 18 months of purchase

Typically your lawyer will apply for the rebate during your purchase and the rebate will be applied immediately to your tax bill. Alternatively, if the rebate is not claimed at the time of registration, the full tax is paid and a refund claim can be made to the Ministry of Finance within 18 months.

Famous Brantfordians

Famous Brantfordians

Nestled in Armouries Gore park is Brantford’s Prominence Point- you may call it Brantford’s Walk of Fame. Originally a collection of memorial plaques located on several downtown streets, the idea grew into a more permanent place of reflection. Completed in 2013, now residents can spend time walking through the garden and learning about fellow Brantfordians who have made an outstanding contribution to the community or achieved significant recognition in their field.