Thinking of Buying? What are you waiting for? Read me :)

Thinking of Buying? What are you waiting for? | Keeping Current Matters

If you are planning on becoming a homeowner, or moving up to the home of your dreams in 2015, here are four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting until spring.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.7% (most pessimistic) and 27.5% (most optimistic). The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of 2015. An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait? Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.


If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.



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It’s those little things in life…

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With the pressures of being a mom, dad, wife, husband, employee, taxi service, care giver and all the other things we do in life, it’s hard to take a moment to enjoy a little peace, quiet and happiness. 


Many of us look for big, monumental occasions to give us meaning, to provide us with happiness. It’s the birthday celebrations, the anniversary parties, the big holiday to-dos that we look forward to where we can finally say: “I’m happy”. In the end, though, those a just events and once the lights go down and the party is over, it’s time to get back to living life doing what we do each and every day. 

The good news is that there are small moments that happen in our every day lives that can bring us happiness and either put a smile on our faces or a little lightness in our heart. Sometimes we don’t see them. So, to help all of us recognize when the great “small” things happen in our lives that can bring us some happiness, joy and satisfaction, we’ve decided to provide a list of the little things.

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Here’s a big list of the little things in life we can enjoy:


1.     You wake up before your morning alarm goes off and you can still get more sleep.

2.     You give Mother Nature the slip and get inside or in your car just before it starts raining.

3.     Someone holds the door open for you for what appears to be an awkwardly long time, just so you don’t have to open it.

4.     The person in front of you in the drive thru pays for your order.

5.     You fast-forward through your recording to miss the commercials and you stop just as the next part of your show starts.

6.     You get an unexpected compliment from someone –even a stranger.

7.     Someone re-Tweets or forwards what you post on Facebook unexpectedly.

8.     You’re just sitting there in your chair and you realize that things are great just the way they are.

9.     Finding money that you forgot you had in a coat you haven’t worn for a while.

10.  Hitting the timing perfectly on a bag of popcorn

11.  Popping bubble wrap.

12.  The elevator arrives just as you push the button.

13.  Ordering coffee and hot chocolate at the right temperature.

14.  Your cell phone staying charged long enough for you to finish your conversation.

15.  Getting in your car and seeing that you had more gas than you remembered.

16.  Your favorite song coming on the radio just as you’re thinking about it.

17.  Seeing trees turn green as the weather gets warmer.

18.  Peeling the perfect hard boiled egg.

19.  Bed linens that just came out of the dryer.

20.  Taking a long shower or bath without being interrupted.


There are lots of little things in life that can make us happy. We just have to look for them.

 New York Real Estate Experts Blog Enjoy your day.


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2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity

2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity | Keeping Current Matter

Many believed that when the housing market crashed, so too would the desire of American’s to own a home again. Many reports have shown that, especially among younger generations, the American Dream of homeownership is still very much alive. Julián Castro, Secretary for HUD, recently summed up what it means to own a home in a speech at the National Press Club.

“Homeownership is still the cornerstone of the American Dream — a fact you can see in the lives of everyday folks. It’s a source of pride. It’s a source of wealth, providing both a nest and a nest egg. And it strengthens communities and fuels growth in the overall economy.”

Castro appropriately named his speech, “2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity”, a theme that rang true throughout.

“Opportunity is not an abstract concept – it’s a path to a more prosperous life, and housing often serves as its foundation. T.S. Elliot once said that “home is where one starts from.” “A home is often a primary source of wealth in a family… Having a home is generational way to pass that wealth on. We want people responsible enough to own a home to have that opportunity.”

Bottom Line

“Over the years-through decades of economic downturns and wars-the American people have always held on to this Dream, and always will.”


As the economy continues to improve, more and more Americans will qualify for homeownership, allowing more families to obtain the American Dream.


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9 Habits That Will Help You Build Wealth


While a six-figure inheritance or high-paying job can land you in the top 1% of earners, it’s the little things — your money habits — that often make the difference between a life of prosperity and one of constant financial stress.

Just ask CFP® David Blaylock, who doesn’t simply advise his clients on the merits of good money habits — he practices what he preaches.

For example, “I do a periodic review of all the subscriptions I have — the ones that hit my credit cards each month,” says Blaylock. “You’d be surprised at how many subscriptions we all have and how many go unused. You could create some significant savings each month just by looking at those things.”

Taking inventory of your recurring subscriptions and services is just one habit that can get you on the road to better fortune.

“If you look at the average amount of money you will earn over your lifetime, and figure out how many years you are working — most people earn more than a million dollars over their working life but very few people become millionaires,” says Nancy Butler, a Certified Financial Planner™. “How they manage what goes through their fingers usually makes the difference.”

So what are these easy changes that can help move you further along the road to prosperity? We asked two financial planners for their favorites.

1. Reverse Your Thinking

We know: After taxes are taken out and the bills are paid, your paycheck can seem a little anemic — which can make the idea of having to save for retirement too seem like a real stretch. But to build wealth, a change in mindset is required. Namely, instead of spending the rest of your take-home pay, you’d actually take another cut of your paycheck and put it toward your biggest financial goals.

“Most people spend some money, pay their bills and save what’s left,” says Butler. “And that’s backwards: You should be saving for your financial goals first, paying your bills and and then consider spending the money you have leftover.” Another trap is putting your good money habits off till “later,” when life will get easier. The thing is, somehow the minute your income increases, the demands on your money seem to as well.

Now, keep in mind, we’re not suggesting you sock all of your money away and live on rice cakes. As Blaylock puts it: “I’m not asking you to put $1,000 away a month, I’m asking you to put away $50, or a small amount that you can afford. We really can’t underestimate the power of starting small, because most of the time that momentum builds, and once we see progress, we tend to repeat behaviors.”


2. Look Where You Want to Go

Just as performance athletes imagine themselves making the shot over and over again — check out this study for how goal setting improves motivation in athletes — knowing what you want your money to do for you gives your goals a better chance of being reached.

To get going on saving for the future, financial experts often suggest having a five-year plan, where you create specific money goals you’d like to achieve in five years and what you need to achieve those goals.  For example, saving six months of income for an emergency fund, or saving for a big event, like a down payment on a house.

“Anytime we have a specific goal in mind, that helps us to save,” says Blaylock. “Whether that goal is emergency savings, or saving for a trip, or saving for college, it doesn’t matter.”

3. Adopt Your Own Private Mind Tricks

What if not spending $1,000 on a designer purse or new must-have gadget were as easy as following a rule that dictates you can’t spend more than $300 on something that isn’t essential to your life? The good news is you can create financial rules just like that for yourself; in fact, doing so can be a great habit to get into.

Also known as “heuristics,” these rule-of-thumb strategies we create for ourselves — such as not spending more than $15 on an item of baby clothing, or more than $50 on a pair of shoes — can help simplify the many choices we make in a day. Behavioral economists believe that adopting good heuristics can help one develop good money habits.

If creating a great heuristic seems like an overwhelming task, Blaylock suggests starting with something simple, such as eating out only twice a week, or “not getting a cart at Target,” a heuristic that helped one of his colleagues save money.

4. Live Like a “Secret” Rich Person

For some, the image of a millionaire conjures visions of sprawling mansions and shiny Bentleys. But most millionaires don’t live large like that — rather, they tend to live well below their “means” and do more saving than spending. In other words, they’re not flashing their money, according to Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, co-author of “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy.” Stanley’s book, which details more than two decades worth of surveys and personal interviews with millionaires, reveals that much of the wealth in America is more often the result of hard work, diligent savings, and living below your means.

Las Vegas–based David Sapper, who owns a successful used car business, and his real-estate broker wife make a combined income of $500,000 per year. Yet they live like “secret” rich people, only spending $2,500 per month on all bills and extracurricular expenses like eating out, unlike many of their peers. By putting 90% of his income into savings and investments, Sapper says he’ll be able to retire early.

His advice? “Find the point that you get what you need and you’re happy and comfortable, and just stay there,” says Sapper. “I had an ‘aha!’ moment when I was watching MTV, and LL Cool J was saying, ‘I lease a Honda Accord for $399 a month,’ while other rappers are going broke.”

5. Tackle Retirement Now

If you’re in your twenties or thirties, retirement can seem eons away — and saving for it might not seem like a priority. It’s easy to understand: In between paying to attend weddings (which average something like $600 per guest), saving for a down payment on a home, and using anything leftover to put toward “necessities” like vacation, how are you supposed to save anything for retirement?

Unfortunately the later you start saving, the more you’ll have to save. But the sooner you sock money away, the more time it has to compound and grow.

If, for example, you’re 30 and putting $50 a month into a retirement account with a 7% rate of return, that $50 a month would turn into $56,000 in 30 years, says Blaylock. Should you wait to age 40, you would need to contribute $110 per month to get to that same goal. This is because your money has less time to grow which minimizes the impact of compound interest.

6. Know What’s Coming in, and What’s Going Out

Most of us have good intentions when it comes to saving money. But if you don’t know what’s coming into your bank account and what’s going out, chances are you don’t know how much you can devote to your goals. And most people generally don’t track their income and spending, says Blaylock. “It really is shocking to me that clients I work with don’t always review their pay stub,” he says.

You can track your expenses that helps you budget, set goals and save. Remember: Knowledge is the first step to lasting change.

“If I don’t know how much you spend on eating out, how can I expect you to change that?” says Blaylock. “You kind of have to become the chief financial officer of your household.”

7. Getting Out of Debt

Everyone has debt at some point in their life. But if you have bad debt — not student loans and mortgages, but credit card debt, where you’re paying high monthly interest rates — nixing it and getting out of the habit of being a debtor — should be priority number one. “I want somebody to develop a plan to have them out of that debt in 36 months or less,” says Blaylock. “It’s hindering you from making progress on your other goals.”

At the same time, emergencies happen — and a $600 car repair can hit anytime. That’s why Blaylock advises putting half the money you could put into paying down debt into an emergency savings account. So, for example, instead of paying $600 toward credit card debt, consider putting $300 toward emergency savings and $300 toward credit card payments. While this means it will take longer to get out of credit card debt, you’ll have money stored up for an emergency.

“Credit card debt is a result of the ‘uh-oh’ moments,” says Blaylock. “We still don’t have any savings built up because we put it all toward our credit card. So while you’re also working to pay your credit card down, you should consider putting an equal amount to an emergency savings account. I often tell clients that their emergency savings are their insurance policy against falling into credit card debt ever again.”

After you get out of debt, Butler suggests only having one credit card, and come to an agreement with yourself (or your significant other) that it will only be used during an emergency. “Let’s say the car broke down and you can’t fix it — that’s an emergency,” says Butler. “Something’s on sale, and I know I’m going to need it in six months — that’s not an emergency.”

8. Increasing Your Earnings

There are two ways to increase your net worth: Spend less or save more money. “And spending less is only part of it — you have to save, and when appropriate invest, the rest,” says Natalie Taylor, a CFP®.“Earning more often doesn’t lead to higher net worth because lifestyle expenses grow along with it.”

But if you grow your income, and set some of those earnings aside, you can grow your bottom line. Aside from getting a raise or winning the lottery, there are a few ways to get more money flowing in.

One suggestion: Diversify your income streams by working a second, part-time job doing something you love. As far as earning more, there are a few things one can do. “For those who cannot cut their expenses enough, I love the idea of working part-time,” says Blaylock. “I have a great friend who is an attorney. She has a big travel habit that she is unwilling to pull back on. So, she works at a flower shop on Saturdays during wedding season. It’s a win for everyone: The flower shop has a dependable employee, and my friend loves flowers so she does not think of it as work.”

Another idea: Look for investment opportunities — perhaps with the help of a financial planner — or other ways to get income to come to you. “I think retirement income should come from multiple sources such as rental income, part-time income and retirement assets,” says Blaylock.

9. Consider Consulting an Expert

There are times in life when consulting an expert pays you back in spades. Even if you’re doing everything you can to start good money habits, using a qualified financial planner can help keep you on track — and help you see the big picture.

“Often times most of us are too emotionally involved in our finances to make really good decisions,” says Blaylock. “So what you’re looking for when you’re getting a professional is accountability and an outside view of what you’re doing. I look at your finances very objectively, where you can’t because you’re that person.”

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Net Worth: A Homeowner’s is 36x Greater Than A Renter!

Net Worth: A Homeowner's is 36x Greater than a Renters! | Keeping Current Matters

Over the last six years, homeownership has lost some of its allure as a financial investment. As homeowners suffered through the housing bust, more and more began to question whether owning a home was truly a good way to build wealth. Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups.

Some of the findings revealed in their report:

§The average American family has a net worth of $81,200

§Of that net worth, 61.4% ($49,856) of it is in home equity

§A homeowner’s net worth is over 36 times greater than that of a renter

§The average homeowner has a net worth of $194,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,400

Bottom Line


There are many reasons why owning a home makes sense, the Fed study shows that owning is still a great way for families to build wealth in America.


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What women(and men too!) really want on Valentines’ Day

For men:


Guys, it turns out that it really is the thought that counts after all. Yes,flowers, candy and expensive stuff does show that you are thinking about your lady. But the real secret has more to do with how much thought you put into the gift. The more creative you are and the more you give a gift that show how much you’ve been paying attention is what’s key.


Here are a few tips from (believe it or not) on how to make your girl feel special this year:


Show a special feature: Invite her to your place for a special movie night, complete with popcorn and hot cocoa. Show that you’ve been thinking of her by buying her favorite romantic movie online (again, it’s OK to ask her for movie suggestions without revealing your entire plan).


Say it in your own words: Who needs Shakespeare? Many women, including Fawn Fitter of San Francisco, say a heartfelt card is worth its weight in gold. “Not some verse from Hallmark,just something sweet in his own handwriting. That’s all it takes,” she says.

Eat in: Consider making a romantic dinner at home for your sweetie instead of going to a pricey restaurant on Valentine’s Day. If you’ve got even a shred of culinary talent, get up early and prepare her favorite — pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream, perhaps, with hot coffee, a carafe of mimosa and two champagne glasses.


Check here for more cool ideas:


For women:


Ladies, men DO have other things on their mind when it comes to the gifts they want from you on Valentine’s Day. Author Nancy Eshelman from Penn Live did a little research on Facebook and got some surprising – and completely amazing – answers.


From the men who gave her feedback, it seems that many of them “seem to have what they already want” said Eshelman.


Here are some of the responses she received:


·        ”If we need told on this day you need to be reminded you love each other, then you don’t really know or understand what ‘True Love’ is. Love isn’t a one-day wonder.


·        ”True Love means you’ll go the extra mile every day if that’s what it takes. So we don’t celebrate our relationship, we celebrate what it’s produced together … two kids and lots of happiness. So we do something together as a family.”


·        ”My favorite Valentine’s Day gift,” he wrote, “is when my dear wife wakes me with a kiss and a happy Valentine’s breakfast.”


·        ”A stay cation.”


·        ”Time … nothing fancy …time.”


·        ”Real men know this is a ladies holiday. Our reward is in knowing we made our ‘special lady’ less angry with us for a few hours.”


Hopefully that clears it up for you. If you’d like to see the full article, go to:


Enjoy and have a Happy (and meaningful) Valentine’s Day.


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Spano: Yonkers Provides Rent and Tax Relief For Seniors

YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers is a city on the move. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2008, home sales and sale prices are up, new businesses are opening and more people are shopping and supporting the local economy.

It’s great news for Yonkers, but as the city’s economy starts to rev up, we’ve got to remain focused on ensuring that Yonkers remains affordable for our seniors.

Years ago in the State Legislature, I helped create the STAR property tax relief program and Enhanced STAR program for seniors, which saved Yonkers seniors up to $2,200 on last year’s tax bill. As Mayor, I’m proud that we’ve passed three consecutive bi-partisan budgets that kept property taxes under the 2 percent cap. And last year, Yonkers became the first big city in the state to provide veterans with a new exemption on school taxes.

Now Yonkers is poised to become one of the first municipalities in New York to expand important rent benefits that ensure fixed-income seniors can continue to afford to rent and live in our city. Under the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program, passed unanimously by the City Council, which I will sign into law, Yonkers will nearly double the income threshold to $50,000 to qualify for rent benefits. It will keep seniors in their homes and protect them from year-to-year rent increases.


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Big buys boost bronx multifamily market to $2.4B

Bolstered by large multifamily portfolio transactions and several game-changing commercial and development deals, the dollar volume of investment sales in the Bronx rose above $2.39 billion, a 39 percent increase from the previous year, according to Ariel Property Advisers’ Bronx 2014 Year-End Sales Report.

Investment sales transaction volume increased by 11 percent to 342, and the number of properties traded increased 20 percent to 577 in 2014 compared to 2013.

The Bronx development market remained in high demand during 2014 and saw an 88 percent increase in dollar volume to $129.7 million over 40 transactions comprised of 73 properties with 2.99 million buildable square feet.

Twenty-four properties totaling nearly 2 million buildable square feet traded in the South Bronx neighborhoods of Hunts Point, Mel-rose, Morrisania, Mott Haven, and Tremont.

“Developments in the Bronx gained momentum in 2014 and that interest is expected to continue,” said Scot Hirschfield, vice president, Ariel Property Advisory.



“A leading indicator of this new activity was the Chetrit Group’s fourth quarter closing of 101 Lincoln Avenue in the South Bronx, which the developer plans to combine with two adjacent sites and uild at least six residential towers.

“This project is within the Lower Grand Concourse Waterfront project along the Harlem River south of 145th Street where the boroughs leadership is seeking to create a commercial and residential comples offering up to 4,000 residential units.”

With many affordable housing groups looking for housing and an increasing number of private developers looking to build new market rate housing, it is expected that demand for Bronx development sites will continue, further pushing up pricing.

The 101 Lincoln Avenue site occupies the entire block with a lot size of 133,810 SF. There is 518’ on the Harlem River and 333’ frontage on Bruckner Boulevard.
The 101 Lincoln Avenue site occupies the entire block with a lot size of 133,810 SF. There is 518’ on the Harlem River and 333’ frontage on Bruckner Boulevard.

This demand could be bolstered even more with the city’s propsal to upzone a new Bronx neighborhood called “Cromwell Jerome” and target it for affordable housing development.

Multifamily dollar volume year-over-year rose 67 percenet to $1.8 billion, transaction volume increased 24 percent to 225, and the number of multifamily properties trading jumped 45% to 401 compared to 2014.

The multifamily market accounted for 65 percent of the borough’s investment sales transactions volume and 77 percent of its dollar volume. As a further indication of the strong market, the average cap rate compressed from 7.71 percent in 2013 to 6.16 percent in 2014.

Additionally, the average gross rent multiple grew from 7.24 to 8.54 over that same period.

“Last year, the multifamily market in the Bronx caught the attention of well-known real estate companies and saw several institutional transactions drive multifamily dollar volume higher,”
said Jason M. Gold, associate vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

“In one of the largest multifamily deals of the year, the Related Companies purchased a porfolio consisting of 35 buildings in various North Bronx neighborhoods for $253 million, as well as a 237-unit building in Parkchester.”


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The Difference Between A Home’s Cost vs. Price

The Difference Between A Home’s Cost vs. Price | Keeping Current Matters

As a seller, you will be most concerned about ‘short term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As either a first time or repeat buyer, you must not be concerned only about price but also about the ‘long term cost’ of the home.

Let us explain.

There are many factors that influence the ‘cost’ of a home. Two of the major ones are the home’s appreciation over time, and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase their home. The rate at which these two factors can change is often referred to as “The Cost of Waiting”.

What will happen in 2015?

nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists project that home values will appreciate by almost 4% by the end of 2015. Additionally, Freddie Mac’s most recent Economic Commentary & Projections Table predicts that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will appreciate to 4.5% by the end of 2015.

What Does This Mean to a Buyer?


Here is a simple demonstration of what impact these projected changes would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today: Cost of Waiting | Keeping Current Matters


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Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day


Yes indeed, it’s that time of year. Today is Groundhog Day in the United States, Canada and other places around the world. As you know, if the groundhog sees his shadow today, he’ll burrow back into his hold and that means another six weeks of winter. If not, then, well, it means that spring is surely on its way.


 Virtually all of us know the routine, but most of have no clue where it came from, how the groundhog got so much “power” and how it go so popular. To help clarify everything once and for all, we decided to share some of the interesting tidbits around the lore of Groundhog Day. 


(Have you ever seen the movie “Groundhog’s Day”? It stars Bill Murray as a man who keeps living the same day (Groundhog’s Day) over and over.)


The groundhog, sometimes called a woodchuck or marmot, is believed to make weather predictions relating to winter and spring,which is rooted strongly in superstition. Thousands of years ago when animals and nature worship were all the rage in Europe, citizens in the area currently known as Germany believed that the badger possessed the ability to predict the coming of spring. In fact, they believed in this power so strongly that they watched the badger to determine when to plant their crops.


In 1886, settlers brought this tradition over to North America, predominantly in Pennsylvania (Punxsutawney to be exact),where it was the groundhog, not the badger, who became the famous“prognosticator”.  It is now the home of Punxsutawney Phil, likely the most famous Groundhog in the entire world.


The Groundhog Day concept became popular in Canada in 1956 when Wiarton Willie became well known for these same February“weather predictions”. There’s even a Wiarton’s Groundhog Day festival thatgrew as Willie’s celebrity increased; in fact, Wiarton Willie became a big enough celerity that he has his own statue in Wiarton. It became one of the largest winter festivals in Bruce County, Canada.


Not to be outdone, there are also other groundhogs in different parts of Canada. For example, Schubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia is reportedly the first groundhog in Canada to stick its head out on Groundhog Day. Other groundhogs include: Gary the Groundhog in Ontario, Brandon Bob in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta.


Who knew that being a groundhog carried so much authority?Here’s to groundhogs around the world NOT seeing their shadow today. Bring on the sun!


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