{ Create an Account }   { Login }   { Contact }

Archive for September, 2016

A Foreclosure Ain’t What it Used to Be

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

At one time in Canada finding a power of sale or foreclosed property could provide deep discounts for buyers wanting to pick up real estate for the cost of a car. Okay, not always quite the cost of a car, but certainly bargain- basement prices.

On the heels of the 2008 financial crisis, Americans were losing their shirts in the real estate market. Homes were going for much less than the mortgages people held on them so what did they do? They walked away. Some left behind big palatial houses, while others were more modest. Either way, at the height of the housing crisis streets were lined with vacant homes and the only run on anything was for plywood used to board up windows.


But that saying that from tragedy comes triumph certainly applies to those who snapped up foreclosure sales in the U.S. for a song. And plenty did. But foreclosure sales south of the border are quite different than in Canada. There, foreclosed homes need only collect the amount that’s outstanding on the loan and buyers stand to make sweet deals at cut-rate prices.

Selling real estate far below what it’s worth won’t cut it in Canada. That’s because lenders are mandated to sell power-of-sale properties for fair market value following strict guidelines that prove the foreclosed building is being sold for a fair and reasonable price.

Buyers of foreclosed properties in Canada bear more of the burden because these homes are sold as is, with no warranty or representation. That means you get what you see so hidden deficiencies, chattels such as appliances and issues around encroachments or land surveys all fall on your back. While these issues can happen with any purchase, a buyer can list these items as conditions in the offer to purchase, which pushes the responsibility back onto the seller. Ensuring all appliances are in working order, disclosing the home’s serious defects and allowing the buyer the time to obtain home inspections and reports that check for encroachment and building codes then become the responsibility of the seller.

While there’s no guarantee, foreclosed homes are often in sub-standard shape in terms of coming with appliances, fixtures and other items you might expect in a regular home purchase. Often this is because the when homeowners are alerted that their lender is foreclosing on their home, angry homeowners sometimes respond by damaging the home and taking everything with them.

The courts typically give the foreclosed homeowner six months to repay the loan and reclaim their property. Sometimes, though, a home will go on the market in that time so the new buyer could be left high and dry if the original owner pays up.

That power of sale you’ve been thinking about isn’t as appealing as you may have thought. Unless you’re buying south of the border, you may be better off purchasing a fixer-upper that’s been on the market for a long time.

Smaller Families = Smaller Homes

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The 1950s might have been a good decade for traditional families comprising a mom, a dad and, let’s say, two or three children.

But today, the family that gathers around the kitchen table comprises a diverse make-up of individuals that include common-law couples, a stepfamily, gay couples, single parents, and a household with grown kids and grandparents, according to the 2011 census.

It’s perhaps no surprise that families have grown smaller.  In 1961, the average family size was 3.9. In 2011, that number shrank a full percentage point to 2.9. In fact, the most typical family in the census was a couple with no kids, which represented 44.5 per cent of Canadian families.

This may surprise you but did you know one of the fastest growing family sizes are those Canadians that live alone? One-person households comprise 27.6 per cent of all homes. The census showed that there are more people living alone in Canada than there are couples with children.

So what does the country’s shrinking family size mean for real estate? Believe it or not, but in the early 2000s, Canadians lived in some of the world’s biggest dwellings, even though the typical family size was one of the world’s smallest. Those monster homes of the 1990s will ultimately fade away or exist only for the very wealthy. House sizes are getting smaller and less elaborate. According to the National Post, the post-2008 U.S. housing crisis resulted in the elimination of mud rooms, home theatres and outdoor living rooms. In Canada, builders are witnessing the slow demise of walk-in closets and hobby rooms. Living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens have morphed into great rooms. And, unless you’re Donald Trump, forget large landings and grand sweeping staircases.


McGill architecture professor Avi Friedman told the newspaper that homebuyers are physically and psychologically ready to live in smaller spaces. He predicts more growth in condo towers and row houses. And as baby boomers retire, moving out of their larger suburban dwellings, he foresees apartments, duplexes and laneway houses in their place.

According to the Toronto Star, Vancouver is the leader in Canada with more than 1,000 downsized laneway homes, many of which are located where unattractive garages one stood. The building concept, which was approved by Vancouver in 2009, allows for smaller homes to be built on pre-existing lots, typically in backyards. They are named laneway houses because they open onto back lanes.

In Vancouver, where single-family house prices have skyrocketed well beyond affordability, the city receives 50 new applications each month for laneway houses, says the National Post.

While laneway houses are a tougher sell in Toronto, proponents believe this form of small-scale housing is an affordable means to help people live near transit.

Prepare Your Home for Winter Savings

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Now is the time when we slowly begin to close up shop on our lawns and gardens, and start to prepare for winter’s big chill. But given the warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing, it may seem more like the start of summer as opposed to the end.

Still, as we wait for the show of fall colours and the leaves to drop, there are still plenty of chores we can tackle in anticipation of winter.  And with the rising costs of energy, let’s focus our attention on those jobs that help use conserve energy and trim costs.


 Weather stripping should be installed now. If yours is old, bent and/or loosened replace it with new material. Double-pane windows may not need weather stripping but if you feel cool air coming in, head down to the nearest hardware store.

Seal cracks and crevices in which mice can enter. Now is the time to inspect your home’s exterior and foundation. Look for openings large and small and be sure to cover them properly. Use a strong screening material or hardware cloth to cover exterior vents. Consider installing door sweeps to prevent pesky bugs and critters from invading your residence and preventing warm air from escaping.

Clean and install storm windows. They will help you prevent warm inside from escaping outdoors and they are a good deal less expensive than installing brand new double- and triple-pane windows.

Inspect your furnace and chimney. If this isn’t something you’re comfortable with hire a professional. Chimney fires can be especially dangerous so don’t give in to temptation on a chilly night before have your fireplace checked and, if needed, cleaned.

Dress up your windows with heavier window treatments. Thicker fabrics and materials will help your home retain its heat and save on your heating bills. Consider layering curtains over your blinds or swapping out lighter window coverings for heavier materials.

Install a programmable thermostat. These help you save on heating and cooling because the thermostat can be set to automatically change your home’s temperature, allowing temperatures to reduce when you’re not home or sleeping

Host a yard sale. Take advantage of the milder temps to rid your home of unwanted clutter. You likely won’t earn boatloads of money, but you will free up space in your home and garage and recycle once-loved items. If you are so inspired, get your neighbours in on the action and hold a mass end-of-summer lawn sale.

Earlier this year the province of Ontario announced a new program to help Ontarians improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The province is investing $100 million from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to provide rebates for home owners who conduct an energy audit on their property and then complete retrofits recommended by the auditor. See http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/saving-energy-for-home/energy-saving-rebates-and-resources/ for more info.

In addition, many of Ontario’s electricity and natural gas utilities also offer incentives to help you save energy and save money on your electricity bill. Contact your local electricity or natural gas provider to learn more.

Falling For Fall

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

You’d have to be living the life of a hermit to not know that when it comes to buying and selling residential real estate the spring market is a fierce one.

There are a number of reasons for this, perhaps the largest of which is that most families want to move into their new home by summer. But September and October can also be great markets and a prime time to sell or buy a home. Here are the reasons why:


The Beauty of Autumn – They say spring is the optimum time to show off your house thanks to springtime blooms but we beg to differ. At no other time is our landscape a gorgeous kaleidoscope of colour than in fall. Rust, gold, red, green, orange are nature’s way of giving back and transforming neighbourhoods into picture-perfect communities. In many ways, the show of colour is evocative of fall’s many pleasures – fires, crisp cooler temperatures, warm sweaters, football and brandy.

The Rascals are Occupied – We’re referring to school-aged children, of course. There’s a fair bit involved whether buying or selling a home and having children to contend with only makes it more complicated. A lot can be done while they’re occupied at school or with extracurricular activities.

The Living is Easy –While fall has its fair share of festivities and holidays what with Labour Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween, these celebrations aren’t too disruptive or intrusive such as, say, Christmas. So your day-to-day living is actually pretty normal. What better time than to sell or buy a home?

Less Competition – The bulk of sellers list their properties in the springtime so that means there’s less on the market if you’re thinking of selling during the fall. That puts you in the driver’s seat, especially given the crush of buyers clamouring for a home.

Move in Dates are Flexible – Many people buy in September and October with the hopes of being in their new home by the Holidays. Typically, though, sellers tend to be more flexible because they understand families don’t want to move on Christmas Eve so expect more wiggle room on dates and deadlines.

Motivated – Homeowners who list in fall are known to be more motivated. They are also more likely to negotiate a little more with buyers.

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.