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Norm Merz

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It’s time for festive fun in Haldimand County!

It’s time for festive fun in Haldimand County!

The snow has fallen, Christmas music is playing, and here in Caledonia and surrounding area, the holidays are in full swing. What better way to take advantage of this beautiful time of year than at one of these exciting events?

Christmas Tours at Ruthven Park National Historic Site

Enjoy an afternoon stroll through the principle rooms of the Thompson family home. Visitors will experience a variety of time periods that the family celebrated over the years. On December 10, don’t miss the Scottish Tea and Tour beginning at 2 p.m. There will be a Tia McGraff Christmas Concert on December 15 at 6:30 p.m. Back by popular demand, the Christmas at Ruthven Candlelight Tours will take place on December 17 and 21 beginning at 7 p.m. Price of admission varies for each event. Call all 905-772-0560 or visit the website at www.ruthvenparknationalhistoricsite.com for more info.

Hagersville Santa Claus Parade – December 8

Line the streets with family, friends and neighbours to help usher in the holiday season! The parade will begin at 6 p.m. The procession will follow Parkview Road to King Street East to Main Street South.

Breakfast with Santa – December 9

Meet the man in red at the Jarvis Community Centre and enjoy a delicious breakfast with family, neighbours and friends. Hosted by the Jarvis Lions Club. Call 519-587-4849 to register.

Cottonwood Mansion Christmas Dinner – December 17

Step back in time at beautiful Cottonwood Mansion and enjoy a fabulous catered meal just in time for Christmas season. Price per adult is $25 and $12.50 for children twelve and under, and includes a full Christmas dinner. Reservations are required. Call 905-776-2538 before December 12 to book your table at the mansion!

Caledonia Christmas Farmer’s Market – December 21

Shop local for all sorts of local products at the final Farmers’ Market of 2017. Held in the Canadian Tire parking lot from 3 – 7 p.m.

Tim Hortons Free Public Skate – December 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31

Head to arenas in Caledonia, Dunnville, Cayuga and Hagersville to ring in the New Year with a free family skate! Check the website at www.haldimandcounty.on.ca for skate times.

Do you need a mortgage broker?

Do you need a mortgage broker?

When it comes to buying a home or renegotiating your mortgage come renewal time, you have a couple of options. You can visit the bank that currently holds your mortgage and speak with a mortgage specialist. Or, you can visit a mortgage broker, who will look at current rates from lenders across the country and offer you a few options to choose from.

So which is better?

It’s really a personal preference. A mortgage broker is a trained professional who will represent you and find the best borrowing rates from hundreds of lenders such as chartered banks, credit unions, trust companies and private lenders. Their services are free to homebuyers as they are paid by the lender, and therefore privy to the lowest borrowing rates.

A broker may be particularly beneficial to buyers with lower credit or high debt as brokers are often able to secure loans from alternative lenders. In addition to their connections and experience, they also offer convenience. Brokers do the legwork for you. They can help with every aspect of a mortgage, from determining out how much you can afford, to choosing the best mortgage product, to finding ways to save money and pay off your mortgage faster. Something to keep in mind: since brokers are paid by the very lenders who you are trying to get the best deal from, lenders may pay financial incentives to brokers who send them a certain amount of volume. In addition, if you are a long-term customer with a financial institution, you may have already developed a strong relationship with your own bank. As a loyal customer, you may be rewarded with lower borrowing options, special interest rates or waived home appraisal fees, as gratitude for committed service.

When it comes to choosing a mortgage broker, talk to someone in the know. Ideally, contact your real estate salesperson and ask who their preferred vendors are. They will be able to provide you contact information for one or two reputable brokers in your area.

Getting pre-approved

Getting pre-approved

With interest rates on the rise and many housing policy changes over the past year, it’s more important than ever for first-time home buyers to have their mortgage pre-approval in hand when beginning the search for a new home.

There are a few reasons why getting pre-approved is so important as you begin the journey towards home ownership. For one, it takes the guesswork out of house hunting! There’s no sense in viewing and falling in love with a home you can’t afford. You can streamline the process and keep only true contenders in the running when you are aware how much you can afford to spend on your new home. Another reason to get pre-approved is that it shows that you’re a serious buyer. Both real estate sales persons and sellers will recognize that you have done your homework and are truly ready to buy. In fact, having a pre-approval in hand may give you negotiating power over another buyer who has not been pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will also help things move along quicker and smoother during a negotiation. It will allow you to act fast when placing an offer on a home. By getting pre-approved you have started the application process for the mortgage. They will provide you with a pre-approval letter, though it is important to remember that this is not a guarantee of financing. Most realtors will still recommend that you include a condition on financing in any offers you submit. What is a mortgage commitment letter? A little more in-depth than a mortgage pre-approval, a mortgage loan commitment letter means that a full mortgage application was taken, the loan has passed through underwriting and the borrower was approved. A commitment letter is a document that lets everyone in the real estate transaction (real estate sales persons, sellers, etc.) know that the lender is prepared to take on a loan that will cover the cost of a home.

The simple step of getting pre-approved will make your home buying experience run smoother.

Organizing your closet

Organizing your closet

While we were fortunate to enjoy some unseasonably warm days during October, November has arrived and it’s only a matter of time before the snow starts falling. With the arrival of frosty weather comes the need to switch over our wardrobes from summer to winter, presenting the perfect opportunity to organize closets and dressers!

The first step is purging. As you sort through clothing, be honest with yourself and look at which items did not get worn this summer. If an item doesn’t fit or is no longer fashionable, throw it away or set it aside for donation. The same goes for accessories. Take some time to sort through shoes, belts, scarves and jewelry, tossing items that have seen better days or just aren’t your style anymore. If you have a smaller closet and extra storage space elsewhere, move off-season clothes to a separate location. There’s no need to take up space with bathing suits, cover ups, beach hats and sandals so if it’s an option, store these items elsewhere until the spring.

Once you have pared down your wardrobe, decide if your closet would benefit from an organization system. When you have a proper place for everything, and put everything back where it belongs, you will have success in keeping your closet clean and organized all winter long. When setting up your new system, keep the items you use the most accessible and put things used less frequently at the back or on a top shelf out of the way. Set up clothing by colour, type (work, casual, active wear etc.) or by category (pants, dresses, shirts, etc.) – choose what works for you. Whatever you decide, keep the system simple so it can be easily maintained on a daily basis.

Another storage space that will likely need some attention is your front hall closet. Pack away sandals and water shoes, light spring jackets and anything else that has gathered over the past six months. Go through your winter wear items and be sure that gloves and mittens have a match and items are in good shape before adding them back into the mix. Now is also a good time to replace hangers or your shoe rack if needed.

November events in Haldimand County

November events in Haldimand County

Get set for holiday fun in Haldimand County If you’re looking for something fun to do this month, you’re in luck. There are some exciting events coming soon to Caledonia and surrounding area that are sure to get you feeling festive, so mark your calendars and take advantage of all the city has to offer!

A Soldier’s Christmas At the Front Edinburgh Square Heritage and Cultural Centre will have this exhibit on display until February. Explore and discover more about the experiences had by soldiers battling on the front during the holiday season. Admission is by donation. Call 905-765-3134.

Craft Show and Sale – November 5 More than 40 vendors will be in attendance at the Caledonia Lions Hall offering the perfect opportunity to shop local! Find that one-of-a-kind gift for someone special on your Christmas list. Sale will run from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Remembrance Day Parade & Services

Selkirk: November 4 – Parade will commence at the Selkirk Firehall at 12 p.m. and travel to Selkirk Park. Dunnville: November 11 – Service and parade will take place at Central Park beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Caledonia: November 11 – Ceremony will take place at 11 a.m.

Along the Grand Christmas Tour of Homes & Bazaar – November 17 – 18 This 18th annual event is presented by the UCW of Grace United Church. Guests will be able to tour three distinctive homes professionally decorated for the holiday season. Start or end your tour at Grace United Church and enjoy refreshments, a silent auction, shopping the many handcrafted items and more. Tours will take place Friday from 1 – 4 p.m. and 6 – 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Tickets are $12. Call 905-765-2686.

Christmas in Caledonia – November 23 -25 The holiday festivities kick off at the gazebo in Kinsmen Park on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. with the annual light-up event! Walk to Santa’s Village at the Fairgrounds and be sure to stop by the Old Town Hall at Edinburgh Square Heritage & Cultural Centre for surprises and a mystery guest! Local merchants will offer deals all day Friday and Saturday and a Santa Claus breakfast will happen on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. After breakfast, find your spot curbside to enjoy the Santa Claus Parade beginning at 11 a.m. It’s going to be an incredible weekend for everyone in the family!

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