Sustainable housing and real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo Region


My Two Top Service Picks for K-W

Automotive repair:

I was referred to Christine’s by a good friend of mine who told me a lovely story of the service he had received here. When my old car needed new brakes, I called for an appointment. I was met with a friendly voice that was able to squeeze me in and help me almost immediately for my own safety. Christine was not only trustworthy (no unnecessary “fixes” or upcharges here), but extremely knowledgeable and caring.

Christines’s Automotive

38 Hanson Avenue, Unit 2 (just south of Homer Watson and Ottawa), Kitchener

Tel. 519-772-5044

Computer Repair:

All I can say is Notebook Galaxy. I love these guys! After bringing my broken laptop into three different shops and being told three different stories of what was wrong with it, then requesting work at one shop only to be told they don’t have to parts and I would have to purchase them myself separately, I finally found Notebook Galaxy. I walked in and it was crowded, but I was greeted immediately none-the-less with a friendly welcome and inquiry into my computer’s status. One man was sitting on a couch, a computer taken apart in front of him. The other man was multi-tasking and assisting three people at once behind the desk. I figured it would take a while, but I did not want to leave my computer at another place again. So I waited. To my surprise, they moved through the crowd quickly and efficiently and I was served within 5 minutes. The man on the couch quickly looked at my computer, made a few minor adjustments, and to my surprise, said “it’s fixed”. And it was. No insane prices or elaborate labour charges. Simple fixes, in front of your face. He also showed me how to maintain my computer, get free spyware, and other handy little tidbits that I still use. They have since been the only people I trust to touch my computer!

Notebook Galaxy

347 Weber Street North, Unit B (near the corner of Weber and Columbia), Waterloo

Tel. 519-886-1112



Leaving Canada
March 3, 2010, 1:31 am
Filed under: Rebecca Sargent

Hello all!

I love this city, but sadly, I will be leaving it shortly!

I am heading to parts of West and Central Africa for the next two years to work and do research on the connections between the extraction of metals and violence which I will be writing on at my other blog A Peace of Conflict. During this time, I will not be available to help you with your real estate needs.

If you need real estate assistance, please contact my trusted friend Judita. She will gladly assist you with all your needs!

I will still occasionally be writing on one of my favorite topics, sustainability. Due to time constraints, this will not be regular. Judita will still be posting here on current real estate issues, so please watch for her upcoming posts.

Thanks to all my readers!

Rebecca



Rebuilding in Haiti using Sustainable Housing (Earthships)
January 29, 2010, 5:21 am
Filed under: Rebecca Sargent, Sustainability | Tags: , , ,

This is the best idea I have seen for rebuilding Haiti so I have decided to pass it on in hopes that the organizers can reach their funding goals and provide the maximum assistance to those in need.

Those at Earthship Biotechture intend on teaching the people to build their own sustainable housing (earthship technologies) using locally found materials.

Currently the organizers are in need of:

– Camping food, Camping Gear
– Money
– Vaccines
– Connections with people and organizations in Haiti to partner with.

Please check out their website and pass this information on to everyone you can!

Thinking of those in Haiti. Our hearts and minds are with you.



Market Update- September 2009

The market remains steady with sales starting to close in on last year’s totals. As Karen Shartun of the K-W Real Estate Board explains, “After the first quarter of 2009 sales were down on a year-to-date basis by 25% compared to last year, by the end of the second quarter that gap decreased to 10% below, now after the third quarter the decrease is only 4.2%. The recession appears to have had its greatest effect during the first part of the year and now the market has returned to near normal levels.

There was a total of $108,337,581 in real estate sales in Kitchener-Waterloo region in September 2009. $62,476,342 of that was in single family detached homes, and $32,069,126 of that was in other single family dwellings. There was $8,075,800 in sales in multi-family units, $242,000 in land and $5,474,313 in commercial sales in September.

The average sales price for a single family detached home in September was $289,242, a 1.6% decline from the numbers this time last year. The average sales price for a semi-detached home was $204,428. The average price of a freehold townhouse unit was $247,326. The average price for a condo unit was $185,447. The average price for a co-operative unit was $136,000. The average price for a link home was $219,000. The average price for a mobile home was $68,000.

There were 408 unit sales last month in the Kitchener-Waterloo region; with 216 single family detached homes sold, 29 semi-detached homes sold, 38 freehold townhomes sold, 89 condominium units sold, 1 cooperative home sold, 1 link home sold, 1 mobile home sold, 14 multi-family dwellings sold, 1 land property sold, and 18 commercial properties sold.

Of the 375 residential sales, 342 were resale homes and 33 were new construction homes. The majority of these residential sales (177 or 342 sales) were in the $200,000 to $299,999 price range. There were 10 residential sales under $100,000; 81 residential sales in the $100,000-$199,999 price range; 69 residential sales in the $300,000-$399,999 price range; 19 residential sales in the $400,000-$499,999 price range; and 10 residential sales in the $500,000-$749,999 price range. There were no residential sales above $1,000,000 in September.

The majority of residential sales (155 units) happened in Kitchener West of King Street. 80 units were sold in Waterloo West of King Street, 72 units were sold in Kitchener East of King Street, and 68 units were sold in Waterloo East of King Street.

There were a total of 691 new listings processed in September, with 1,666 listings still on the market. This means there are still plenty of homes for you to choose from to find the home of your dreams and expectations that the value will still steadily increase over time. Sellers are getting still high values for their homes and are still selling fairly rapidly. The market will likely start to slow over the winter, as it normally does, picking up again in the early spring.



The accidental environmentalist.
September 13, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Rebecca Sargent, Sustainability | Tags: , ,

Now you may be surprised to hear this, considering that I write a blog about sustainable housing, but I do not consider myself an environmentalist. I do not feel like I am one of the green, tree-hugging folk.

I do live what most would consider a fairly green and simple life. I haven’t really been shopping in a few years now, aside from groceries and the occasional need for office supplies for my business (mostly 100% recycled paper and re-filling the ink cartridges in my printer). I think very carefully before I make a purchase and try to research its impact whenever possible. My clothes are all second hand from the thrift store or handmade creations by friends. I live in a very minimum square footage, use all non-toxic cleaners (thank goodness for baking soda), and take great measures to reduce my daily energy usage. I grow some vegetables and herbs for the fresh goodies through the harvest and to preserve to last me as far as I can get through the winter. Aside from chocolate (which I can’t imagine ever giving up!), I try to eat mostly a localvore diet, although I’m not extremely strict on this. I dream of the day when I will be able to live in a fully self-sustaining home, off the grid, growing all my own food myself.

So why do I write about sustainable housing, and why do I seem to care about environmental issues so much?

I’ve always considered myself a fairly good person. It has never been my intention nor want to cause another being harm and I have always been concerned with human rights and freedoms. It is with this purpose that my so-called “environmentalism” came to be.

I was once a fairly heavy consumer. I desperately wanted the latest and greatest, and coveted these goodies with great lust. I dreamt of a high-tech, gadget-filled existence and thought the tree-huggers to be unrealistic idealists with their head in the clouds.

That all began to change– slowly, but surely–after extensive world travels and years at university studying about global affairs began to really open my eyes. I read (and write) constantly about human rights and have for at least most of the past decade. I dream of a day where the basic human rights (you know, like those ones agreed upon by many nations–including our own–through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over 60 years ago) are actually ratified and guaranteed by the governments of the world. A world where everyone has the basics they need to live a healthy and happy existence.

For me, environmentalism coincides with this dream. Pollution, in my opinion, violates my human rights. It affects my health and well-being and the health and well-being of my family. I should not have to endure a barrage of toxins if I don’t want to do so willingly.

Unfortunately, we have little choice in the matter. Our air and water is filled with toxic pollution and it is only getting worse. In some places, people are experiencing severe health problems due to the high toxicity levels in the air, ground or water. Their right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their families is being infringed upon by polluters.

High levels of consumerism are having an immense impact on pollution levels. We live in a society where we are expected to shop. We are expected to have a home computer and a cell phone and a big screen TV. We are taught from a young age to value material things. Unfortunately, this value for the material happens to contradict with many people’s value of doing no harm. It was this contradiction that led to my gradual life change.

Not only does the need for the latest-and-greatest cause tremendous pollution, which will harm the planet and the beings living on it, but many of these latest-and-greatest are also incredibly human rights abusing in their production. Now, I’m not just talking about sweat-shops, even thought almost every store in North America probably has at least one product created by sweat-shop labour. The abuses go much deeper.

Think about where your products came from and what it took for them to get from raw materials in and on the ground to your home. They have probably traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles, creating mass amounts of pollution along the way only to wind up in a landfill at the end of it.

If the product has metal components, it is possible that this metal was mined by slaves and you would never even know it. It is quite possible that it also provided financing for a murderous warlord to continue warring. For example, you’d be hard-pressed to find an electronic product such as a cellphone or laptop computer that hasn’t helped in some way to finance civil war or helped to continue the rape, torture or death of innocent civilians.

It is with this in mind, that I began to look into what I was consuming, why I was consuming it and how it was impacting the world. It is with this in mind that I became an “accidental environmentalist”. I started searching out the sources of the products and services I was using daily and whenever I found one that didn’t meet my ethical standards– I stopped using it. As I stopped using all the products and services to such a high degree– I noticed that I didn’t need or miss them after they were gone for a while. As I started looking into environmental issues more and how they were affecting the people of this planet, I started reading about the different renewable and sustainable technologies that exist. I starting thinking– why aren’t we using these? They make so much sense, not only from an environmental standpoint, but they are also more cost effective and efficient.

Reversing or slowing climate change has never been a prime goal for me. Not infringing on other people’s human rights, however, IS.

The next time you think about going green, think about this. Probably the number one greenest thing you can do for this planet and the beings living on it is to STOP CONSUMING SO MUCH STUFF!!

Everything you consume had to be created. It had to use goods mined or extracted from the earth, causing pollution and depleting often non-renewable resources, and is perhaps even using slave labour or causing war and death along the way. When you throw it away at the end of its usage it will probably wind up in a landfill leaching into our water supplies. So think before you buy– do I actually need this? Chances are, you probably don’t, and after a while, you probably won’t even miss it.



Condos are moving… August market remains fairly steady.

There were 520 unit sales in the month of August in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, a 19.3% increase from August of the previous year, with an average sales price of $255,311 for residential properties. Of the 482 residential properties sold, 278 were single family detached homes, 46 were semi-detached, 33 were freehold townhomes, 122 were condos, 1 cooperative home, 1 link home and 1 mobile home sold during this period.

The incentives for first time home buyers appear to be affecting the market as both condominium and semi-detached home sales were significantly up from last year with a 62.7% increase and 31.4% increase respectively.

Of the 482 residential properties, 454 were resale homes and 28 were newly constructed homes.

The volume of sales was highest in the $200K-$300K price bracket, which constituted nearly 49% of all sales (235 units). There were 9 sales in the under $100K price bracket, 131 sales in the $100K-$200K price bracket, 69 sales in the $300K-$400K price bracket, 23 sales in the $400K-$500K bracket, and 12 sales over $500K. There were no sales over $1 million this month.

Kitchener west of King Street topped the sales again this month with 208 units sold in August. Waterloo west of King Street followed this with 102 sales during this time period. Waterloo east of King Street had 79 sales, while Kitchener east of King Street had 93 sales. Kitchener east properties seem to moving more quickly as sales volumes were up 78.8% from last year’s numbers and nearly 20% from last month’s.

In total there was $131,995,819 in sales in real estate in the Kitchener-Waterloo region for August, up nearly 15% from last year. Residential sales accounted for the majority of these sales, with $119,428,287 of sales recorded ($80,282,630 in single family detached homes and $39,145,657 in other single family dwellings). Multi-family unit sales were worth $4,529,500, vacant land sales were worth $1,356,000, and commercial sales at $6,682,032.

The average sales price for a single family detached home last month was valued at $289,829, down about 3.4% from this time last year. The average sales price for all other single family dwellings was valued at $193,790, up about 2% from last year. The average semi-detached home sold for $210,510, while the average townhome sold for $224,399. The average condo unit sold for $180,968, the average cooperative unit for $132,900 and the average link home for $229,900. The average mobile home sold for $21,500.

There were a total of 599 new listings processed in the Kitchener-Waterloo region in August, 327 new single family detached homes, 182 other single family homes, 26 multi-family units, 6 vacant land properties, and 58 commercial properties. There are 1,665 active listings still available to search from, with 710 single family detached properties, 421 other single family properties, 78 multi-family units, 53 vacant land properties, and 403 commercial proeprties still on the market.

If you have any questions about any of these statistics or require further information– please be sure to ask me at rebecca.sargent@century21.ca.



Visions of integrative-sustainable housing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been dreaming of building my own earthship on a large acreage (enough for a woodlot, orchard and gardens)  for many years now. I think about this all the time and hopefully someday in the no-so-distant future it will become a reality. I love growing vegetables/gardening, and definitely love the idea of living in a home that can provide me with self-sustaining renewable supplies of food, energy and water.

Integrative Sustainable city

I also have dreams of a more integrative city in the future. A city where green spaces collide with living spaces and buildings can “live” on their own. Buildings that can collect and store energy, collect and clean water, and even grow food for their occupants, not to mention help clean the air.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe climate change is “hype”– these types of building and designs make sense in many other ways. In a world where security is an issue and people are told to create “emergency preparedness kits” for their homes, it makes good sense to not have to rely on a grid that could be possibly unreliable. It also saves money, create oxygen and creates a more natural looking setting.

It makes good sense to have a way to feed cities within the cities. This ensures that in case of emergency there are still food sources available to the population. It’s also much, much cheaper to grow your own produce from seeds than buying it and it tastes so much better because it hasn’t ripened on a truck or sat in storage at some facility before being shipped. There are even services out there now in some cities that you can hire to come and tend your vegetable garden for you if you don’t want to grow them yourself. They can be grown on roofs, sidewalks, and any space big enough to hold a pot. The spaces on roofs and boulevards can also be rented out to others for them to grow produce or flowers.

city gardening

It makes good sense to have energy available on a renewable individual basis without having to be attached to some massive grid. Again it’s cheaper– much, much, much cheaper. Installation costs can be returned on utility savings in short periods of time and if you are collecting enough energy, you never pay for utility costs again. You only have to worry about maintenance and replacing the systems every 15-25 years. Again– in the case of emergency– you still have power. Makes sense.

reed bed waste treatment

It makes good sense to have a way to clean and collect water. We all need water to live, and we use a LOT of it. There are many creative ways to reduce, collect, treat and clean water that have been converted to home use and could be done on a much larger scale. Reed bed waste water systems,  for example, have very low operational costs compared to other types of waste treatment options because they use gravity for the main pumping instead of coal-burning fuel. They also look better from the outside, because instead of a massive treatment facility spewing out sludge there is only a space full of plants (creating more green space).

green roof

The city I imagine uses space wisely– more efficiently and thoughtfully. It integrates and maximizes spaces like the roofs and walls of buildings in innovative ways. It diversifies the usages of the land– combining retail space with business space, with residential space, with farm space, with industrial space, with recreational space, and making them all work together, reducing the need to travel for daily activities.

green wall

These types of initiatives are starting to happen all around us. The more we invest and use these types of systems– the better they will become. Ontario has started to implement Smart Growth policies in an attempt to redevelop the land to help prevent urban sprawl.

sustainable city growth

So let’s start creating energy, creating useful space and creating clean air instead of using energy, destroying useful space and polluting the air. It just makes sense!