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Archive for March, 2018

Why a Cooler Housing Market is Good

Monday, March 19th, 2018

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

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

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

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

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.

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.