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Why a Cooler Housing Market is Good

March 19th, 2018 by freemanrealty

Take a breather, Toronto. Now more people can afford to buy real estate.

That’s right. With the number of residential home sales down considerably and selling prices lagging behind the record highs of 2017, buyers should be able to gain back a bit more control in Toronto’s formerly unruly real estate market.

The Toronto Real Estate Board reported that the number of Toronto area homes that sold in February was down 35 per cent from the previous February. Perhaps more importantly, the prices of homes also dropped, though not as significantly. The average selling price of all residential sales fell by 12.4 per cent to $767,818.

Rising interest rates, a new financial stress test for buyers and restrictions on foreign buyers have clearly all impacted the GTA’s market. But a more moderate real estate market is not something we should be afraid of. In fact, as real estate professionals with nearly a half-century of experience under our belts, we think a less volatile market than what we’ve been experiencing recently is a good thing.

A less explosive market means buyers and sellers are more evenly split when it comes to their negotiating clout. As a nation of home owners, many of us grew up thinking we would simply own a home one day. But recent activity in Vancouver and Toronto has made that dream something of a fairy tale for some.

A more controlled market means bidding wars would lose their fierceness and prices would be more in line with actual market value. It means buyers wouldn’t get caught up in overpaying for subpar inventory just so they can dip their toe in the market. It means buyers can make purchasing decisions based on sound judgement and request important conditions on offers. It means sellers no longer become ensnared in the prospect of making a quick buck only to realize they have to pay more to make a lateral move.

A temperate market won’t make you rich overnight but it sure helps you curb your blood pressure.  And in the end, isn’t that the kind of balance we’re all looking for?


Top 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Renovating

March 7th, 2018 by freemanrealty

Nothing gets a homeowner’s juices flowing quite like the prospect of a remodelling job or major home renovation. You’ve been paging through magazines for years and checking out Houzz and other online home design and architecture websites so much, in fact, you feel like an expert.

Here’s the thing: you’re not. You may know precisely what it is you’re after but there are obstacles that no amount of studying can prepare you for.  And while the thought of hearing workers inside your home sawing, hammering and drilling fills you with excitement, be cautious and don’t jump into a project feet first.

Here’s a list of don’ts you should avoid if you want a fairly uncomplicated dream renovation project.

Don’t Hire Harry the Handyman – Unless he comes with stellar references from folks you know and trust using your sister-in-law’s unemployed step-cousin to remodel your ground-floor bathroom is probably not a good idea. Sure, he’s super handy, reasonable and can refinish hardwood like nobody’s business, but his limited or non-existent experience leaves you in doubt. Best to keep on looking.

Know that your Reno Budget will Grow — Like death and taxes, it kind of goes without saying that spending more on your remodelling project is a sure thing. There are online resources that will help you hammer down the precise cost of your renovation, spreadsheet and all. Know that it’s best to have a budget for your budget. According to Scott McGillvray, surprises invariably happen so homeowners should squirrel away a sizable contingency fund. The home reno guru recommends in the neighbourhood of 15 to 25 per cent of your budgeted renovation, depending on the size of the project and the condition of your house.

Don’t Expect a Punctual Contractor – It’s not that builders and contractors enjoy falling behind time-wise, it’s just that issues arise due to the wild unpredictability of transforming an existing structure into your dream home. Don’t look to house-and-home shows on television as your yardstick because that is flat-out unrealistic. Since there is no way of knowing if the job will be completed by the estimated time, bear this in mind and expect a later date. And who knows? Your contractor might surprise you. Just don’t hold your breath.

Don’t Think Your Day-to-Day Routine will be Unchanged – Having strangers in your house can be unpleasant and disruptive, especially if you’re somewhat of an introvert who enjoys peace and quiet. Expect the objectionable: noise, dirt, dust, disarray and disruptions to your regular way of living. If your kitchen is being remodelled or a heavily used bathroom, you need to find alternatives. Can you use your fridge in another room of the house and cook on a hot plate or in a microwave oven? Eating out is well and good but that can add up in dollars, calories and diminishing health. Think ahead about potential disturbances and how you can best deal with them.

Don’t Assume Your Contractor is Certified – If you’re a little casual when it comes to rules, this might be a good one to jot down. Ask to see your contractor’s certification. You want to ensure they have liability insurance and are covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board so that if a worker gets injured, the contractor is covered and you’re not at risk of being sued.

Why Raising Kids in a Condo Works

March 7th, 2018 by freemanrealty

There’s this set of rules that exist for many Canadians and it has to do with living in a single-family home.

Many of us grew up in decent-sized homes, where the views were backyard pools, trees, swing sets and maybe a hint of siding from the neighbour’s house. Smaller family sizes meant you’d at least have your own bedroom, evenif your house was modest. We had space back then. Land was more affordable because it was less in demand.

Move forward 30 or 40 years and our urban living spaces have gotten smaller. Many of us live vertically now in high-rise buildings in the city. We share amenities and that helps us live with less space. But we often think condos are for young buyers or older ones interested in downsizing. We regularly think they are the perfect set-up for childless households. But what’s wrong with this picture? Why can’t children grow up in condos?

In the past year or two, magazines and newspapers have tried to grapple with the question with one Globe & Mail story running the headline, Is it bad parenting to raise children in a condo? All of the stories dig at this issue by asking readers to rethink age-old stereotypes that suggest a child will somehow be in harm’s way if they aren’t raised with their own family room, bedroom and backyard.

But evidence suggests quite the contrary. It’s believed city kids gain valuable street smarts earlier than their suburban counterparts. In fact, some say their exposure to diverse peoples and cultures gives them an added edge helping them develop greater social skills than their country cousins.

The other obvious benefit for city-dwelling kids is exposure to arts and culture, from the performing arts and theatres to museums, galleries and libraries. In comparison to small communities and the cutbacks in arts education, cities simply pulsate with an assortment of resources that feed those hungry for arts and culture.

Many condos are filling up with young families due in large part to the high cost of housing in Toronto. According to Statistics Canada, 2017 census data showed that 129,000 or 13 per cent of Toronto’s families lived in condos in 2016. Those numbers are, up nearly nine per cent from 2011 and well above the national average of 8.4 per cent.

There are also a good number of environmental and emotional attributes to raising your family in a condo. Being closer to work and school means less money and time going to transportation. Think of what that might do for climate change. Think how living without the commute will benefit you and your family. You’ll have more time together. Thanks to communal spaces such as parks and pools, you and your family will be able to hang out without worrying about pesky household chores like cutting the grass or cleaning the pool.

Condo living also fosters a minimalist approach, which fights the longstanding notion that bigger is better. Given the condition of our planet, we need to rethink that view and embrace a less-is-more philosophy. Not only will our planet be happier, so will our bank accounts and stress levels.

Is a High-Efficiency Water Heater Really Worth It?

February 14th, 2018 by freemanrealty


The term high-efficiency typically appeals to our pursuit for products that show quality, speed and effectiveness. It also speaks to goods that are kind to the environment or at least kinder than their predecessors were.

When it comes to water heaters, there are a number of choices available and for good reason. Did you know that warming up your at-home water supply comprises nearly 20 per cent of your home’s energy use? Heating your water supply ranks second, albeit a distant second, to the amount of energy used to heat your home, which clocks in at 63 per cent. Hot water is an expensive proposition as it accounts for between 15 and 25 per cent of your household energy bill.

While the natural thing is to replace your broken down water heater with the exact same model, you should at least consider the different types of water heaters that are on the market. Next to the standard storage model, there are tankless or on-demand, heat pump models and those that are solar assisted. Then there are the different fuel types used by water heaters such as electric, natural gas, propane and oil.

Storage or tank water heaters, which are the most commonly used appliances, are also the most inefficient. That’s because anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons of water is being kept hot and ready for use at all times. That sucks a good amount of energy. Insiders call this energy-out-of-the-window formula ‘standby losses.’

Demand or tankless water heaters are a good alternative because the supply of hot water is made on demand or as needed. As a result, standby losses are eliminated.

Heat pump water heaters somehow transfer energy from the air to water in the storage tank.

Solar water heating is another alternative. While the initial costs are high with this choice, the long-term costs of operating a solar water heater can save you up to 90 per cent. The only stipulation with this system is that you also need a conventional water heater as backup should the solar system fail to operate.

There is a myriad of considerations to think about when investing in a high-efficiency hot water tank. What you ultimately choose depends on your budget and needs. Let’s take a look at an efficiency comparison of common types:

A standard storage water heater has low initial costs and a life span in the neighbourhood of eight to ten years. Energy savings are the lowest at 10 to 20 per cent. A tankless water heater can last up to 20 years and provides an unlimited water supply. The heat pump water heater is the most efficient for those using electricity. They generally last about ten years. Solar offers the best energy savings, in the range of 70 to 90 per cent and last up to 20 years.

Why Condos Are a Good Investment

February 8th, 2018 by freemanrealty

You’ve been saving and a small nest egg has accumulated and now you’re wondering if the real
estate market is good place to invest your money.

The condo market is a good place to start. Not only have condos posted year-over- year gains,
making them an attractive investment opportunity, they are also likely the most affordable
piece of real estate money can buy in the GTA.

Purchasing a condo as an investment is a wise move now for a number of reasons. Vacancy
rates in Toronto are extremely low, somewhere below one per cent. As with any supply-
demand scenario this inevitably means renters will need to pay more and competition for
desirable rental space will be stiff. With rental prices on the higher side and a low supply of
rental space, tenants are reportedly engaging in bidding wars by offering landlords extra
months of rent up front just to secure a space.

It’s said that the majority of condo investors look to a formula of 25 per cent in and 75 per cent
rent coverage. What that means is if you invest 25 per cent into the price of your condo, the
rent you charge should cover your remaining costs, including property taxes, mortgage and
maintenance fees.

If you are buying a condo as an investment, try to buy in the very best location you can afford.
Make sure the condo is close to transit, multiple forms are even better, as many renters don’t
own vehicles.

There are plenty of advantages to condo living that you don’t always get in a single-family
home. Your access to community is virtually built-in given the closer quarters design of most
condos. Many possess an added level of security that is non-existent in other homes. And
finally, the condo lifestyle frees up your time for other pursuits as grass cutting, snow shovelling
and window washing are chores that are relegated to someone else to take care of.

Don’t ignore what amenities are in your condo simply because you won’t be living there.
Renters will pay attention to what your building offers and they want to benefit from some of
the amenities they enjoyed when living in a single-family home. Many condos feature patios,
pools and party rooms for entertaining larger groups. Barbecues are often available. And just
think what renters can save on their fitness club memberships once they start using the gym
provided by your condo.

Finally, pay attention to the cost of utilities as well, since your renters will want some idea of
these costs.

Why Selling in Winter is a Smart Move

January 8th, 2018 by freemanrealty

Just because your house in covered in snow and ice doesn’t mean you need to wait for spring to put it on the market.

In fact, some real estate experts believe the December-through-March months actually pay off when selling your home because at least one study by an online brokerage firm suggests that’s when sellers net more above asking and that’s also when houses move more quickly. The reason? Buyers trudging through frost and snow piled knee-high are motivated. They are looking at houses during the deep freeze because they have to. It’s as simple as that.

With fewer homes on the market in winter, your house could become a hot commodity, particularly if it’s in a desirable neighbourhood or if it has good bones and features today’s home buyers want.

Another big advantage to selling in winter is that the outdoor maintenance on your house is much reduced. With the exception of shoveling snow and keeping walkways clear and slip-free, you save time on the grass cutting and weed pulling typically done in spring and summer.

Be sure to keep pathways, stairs and driveways clear of snow and ice. Nothing is more off putting to a potential buyer than having to slip, slide and slog through ice and snow. If need be, make sure you scrape up the ice especially in areas where potential buyers might walk. Be sure to clear a path in snow banks and snow drifts that form due to shoveling and plowing. So whether they’re parking on your driveway or on the street try to clear an area so they can step out of their vehicle easily. You don’t want to annoy house hunters by forcing them to climb over a three-foot mound of snow.

It’s a good idea to warm up your home during viewings. While setting your thermostat above 20 degrees C might seem wasteful and not the most eco-friendly thing to do, keeping your space a degree or two warmer than usual is good practice for showings as buyers will enjoy the warmth and coziness of your home. If you have a fireplace, light it. That adds warmth and ambiance. Just be sure not to leave a wood fireplace unattended for too long.

Winter buyers will be especially on the watch for issues relating to heating so it’s a good idea to have your furnace and HVAC inspected. Be sure to change air filters and weather strip windows and doors. As heating costs will be on their minds, don’t leave signs around that your house is cold and drafty. For example, hide those piles of heavy blankets in your living room and tuck away that draft stopper you keep at the foot of your door.

Add a pop of colour to your home to compensate for the dull, gray days of winter. A seasonal wreath on your door or topiaries at your entrance can lend some excitement. Also ensure your windows are clean as the disappearance of summer foliage means your home is put under the glare of winter sunlight which shows every mark, fingerprint and scuff.

Sources: www.time.com, www.thebalance.com, www.realtor.com

Why Condos Are Having a Moment

January 8th, 2018 by freemanrealty

Condos often fit the bill where other housing is either too large, too expensive, too far from the action and often, for many, too much work.

That the Toronto condo market is having a moment right now makes sense. With an average selling price of just over $500,000, condos are a very affordable option for buyers seeking to own their own living space.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), approximately half of those hunting for a house in the city are comprised of first-time home buyers. It can be assumed then that these buyers are typically younger and, as such, possess less money and earnings to carry a single-family home in the million-dollar range. Condos are the perfect entry point to owning real estate in Toronto. As you pay off your mortgage, the value of your investment goes up, allowing you to eventually use your increased capital to buy a larger home or perhaps fund a vacation home or some other such comfort.

The average selling price for condos in the city was $510,206 in the third quarter of 2017, up by nearly 23 per cent compared to the average price of $415,894 that condos sold for during the same period a year earlier.

“The condominium apartment market segment has exhibited the strongest average rates of price growth since the spring, relative to other major market segments,” says TREB president Tim Syrianos. “Competition between buyers remains strong, as listings remain below last year’s very constrained levels.”

Syrianos also touched on the fact that the condominium apartment housing market is not protected from the ravages of a listings shortage. And this factor is also likely driving the condo market.

According to TREB, there were 5,684 condominium apartment sales reported through the MLS system in the third quarter of 2017. This was down from 7,991 sales reported during the same period in 2016.

New condominium apartment listings were also down on a year-over-year basis by 10 per cent to 9,845 in the third quarter of 2017 compared to 10,967 in 2016.

A consumer poll taken for TREB by Ipsos last spring indicated more interest in buying condos.

“Condominium apartments will likely account for a greater share of home sales as we move forward,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis. “With this in mind, it is not surprising that we have continued to see robust price growth, as demand has remained strong relative to available listings.”

As with any type of housing, there are issues with these vertical homes, but if you’re looking for a space that is centrally located, low-maintenance and affordable, condos can’t be beat.

See Freeman Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – Condos to learn more about our condo listings.

How Technology Helps Green Our Homes

January 3rd, 2018 by freemanrealty

There’s no doubt that when historians look back on this time it will be deemed the Age of Technology or some such name that indicates the era as a whirlwind of rapidly changing automation.

Perhaps nowhere is that revolution more evident than in our homes with how technology has served to make them warmer yet more eco-friendly. Let’s take a look at some of the tech advances that are helping green our homes:

Temperature-Controlled Living

Saving us money and time, but perhaps most importantly, saving our planet from environmental ruin are home automation systems that allow you to cool or warm your home remotely. What’s unique about smart thermostats is that technology allows you to be eco-smart so that you are not heating or cooling a space when you’re not there. Sync these thermostats with your iPhone so that your habits are remembered. Some tech companies allow you to use your smartphone to link your temperature controls with your lighting for added savings. Just think: no more fiddling with tricky timers or leaving lights on at all hours to fool people into thinking you’re home. With this technology, you can easily control the timer from anywhere with a simple click.

Tiny Bubbles

While laundering your clothes will never be a snap, there are smart washing machines now that don’t guzzle energy like their predecessors. Equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities, these machines also allow you to use your smartphone to detect any issues that crop up with your washer.

Ditch the Dryer

While that is much easier said than done, dryer chugs through an inordinate amount of energy that rivals your washer, dishwasher and refrigerator combined. Try using folding racks to hang and air dry your laundry or simply hang clothes such as shirts from hangers. Or consider hanging half your laundry and machine drying the other half. Just be sure to air dry the heavier items and let the lighter loads in the machine, which will cut down drying time.

Skip to the Loo

Dual-flush toilets are all the rage and with good reason. Instead of flushing away six gallons of water with each flush, dual-flush toilets only use up either.8 or 1.6 gallons. Let’s say a family of three each uses the toilet five times a day. If they are using an older style toilet then they are flushing nearly 100 gallons of water down the drain each and every day. Dual-flush toilets allow you to select the level of water required for each flush. Another great technological advancement is the toilet that uses gray water from your bath and shower in order to flush.

Eco Padding Your House

While spray polyurethane foam insulation is a workhorse of a product in terms of helping keep homes draft free and temperature controlled, environmentalists don’t look too kindly on it for its greening properties. Soybean-based spray foam is a good alternative as it does not contain the chemical (MDI or diphenyl diisocyanate) that causes off-gassing. Castor-oil based lcynene is also a good option. Cotton denim batting is a good green insulation, though it can be expensive to install and not nearly as easy as foam. Similarly, sheep’s wool is a good eco-friendly alternative, but like denim, it is not as easy to install.

Sources: Mother Earth News, Better Homes & Gardens, Organic 4 Greenlivings, Eco Building Pulse, Green High Five

Top 4 Green Gifts Types

December 26th, 2017 by freemanrealty

Are you at that point in your life where you think what more do I really need? Where it’s more about the giving than the receiving? Likely the same could be said for many of us.

During this season of giving, it’s a little awkward to show up empty handed. Besides, people enjoy showing their loved ones that they’re thought of and cared for in the form of physical gift. With that in mind and so you don’t come off as a Grinch this holiday season, why not consider some of the following suggestions for green gift giving:


These make a fabulous gift for the pragmatist on your list. Does he like movies or the ballet? Get him tickets for a show. Is she into fair-trade organic coffee? How about a gift certificate to her favourite gourmet java shop? The list can be quite endless with presents you consume: chocolate, a gift certificate for a pedicure, wine, a cooking class or a professional organizer for the unorganized person in your life.

Homemade Goodies 

No eye rolling allowed. Gifts made from own hands can be some of the most treasured. Are you an especially talented potter? Do you enjoy baking? How about knitting or jewelry making? A personal gift certificate entitling the bearer to breakfast in bed, a foot massage or a weekend bike ride is a highly individual gift. Your personal touch will earn high praise.

Recycled Gifts 

And no we don’t mean Aunt Sally’s doilies. Thankfully, the world is starting to catch on because the amount of recycled gifts you can acquire is quite amazing. Try Etsy or Uncommon Goods. That’s where you’ll find recycled wine glasses, wine bottles flattened into serving trays, clothes repurposed as bags, belts and wallets made out of fire hose and picture frames fashioned from tires.

Your Time 

When everyone is frantically trying to get 16 things done in a 30-minute window and never managing to clear their to-do list not even for a minute, you know time is of the essence. Why not offer some of yours? Your sister-in-law with the triplets might appreciate a break. Your uncle who is care giving for his ailing wife might, too.  Maybe even your teenager might appreciate a bit of downtime from school, jobs and social media. Let them know you’re there and willing to lend a helping hand.



December 12th, 2017 by freemanrealty

Freeman Real Estate is reprising its community giving this holiday season with a charitable gift that is even bigger and better than last year’s.

The family-run boutique realtor is stepping up its contribution to the community this year on Sunday, December 17 with a GREAT TURKEY GIVE that will see some 9,000 pounds of turkey given to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

This is the second annual turkey giveaway for the Bathurst Street realtor, which launched the GIVE in 2016 as a way of giving back to the community and keeping the tradition of Ed Mirvish alive.

Freeman is located at 988 Bathurst Street, just four blocks north of the former Honest Ed’s store, which gave away free turkeys during the holidays for many years. Freeman is a company with a reputation for supporting community causes, charities and interests.

“For over 40 years, starting with my father, the Freeman family has been practicing real estate at this very location on Bathurst Street,” says Elden Freeman, Broker of Record. “The community we serve means a lot to us. Giving away turkeys is our way of saying thank you, engaging with those we serve and hopefully inspiring others to spread generosity and goodwill during the holiday season.”

Freeman has partnered with Bathurst Street organizations Spirit of Math, 918 Bathurst and A Nerd’s World for the giveaway. Spirit of Math is a leader in after-school mathematics education. Located in the Annex, 918 Bathurst is a centre for culture, arts, media and education. A Nerd’s World is a one-stop shop for all your online marketing needs.

The turkeys are completely free of charge and for each turkey given Freeman plans to donate to St. Alban’s Boys & Girls Club, an organization that offers programming for children and youth.

On hand to help give away the turkeys will be Toronto city councilors Mike Layton, Joe Mihevc, Joe Cressy and a number of other political figures and local celebrities.

The GIVE begins at 9 a.m. at Freeman Real Estate located at 988 Bathurst Street.



The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.