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Archive for the ‘Buying a Home’ Category

The Right Way to Investigate a New Neighbourhood

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Your kitchen is too small and awkward for even the simplest of meals. Three kids and two adults fighting for a single bathroom put undue stress on your family’s morning routine. The neighbours regularly hold weekend jam sessions in their yard and not only do you hate the music you also work shifts.

These are all good reasons to think about moving. But a move comes with certain fears and apprehensions, a big one of which is wondering if you will like living in the new neighbourhood. Are there things about the neighbourhood that might affect the resale value of your home down the road? Will you enjoy the vibe?

Never fear because there are ways you can investigate a neighbourhood before signing on the dotted line. Here’s how:

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Question Potential New Neighbours – While that might seem a bit intrusive, so is spending your life’s savings on a house in a neighbourhood you don’t enjoy. So buck up and introduce yourself and tell them flat out why you’re investigating the neighbourhood. They’re bound to understand. Ask the neighbours if they know of any problem neighbours. Ask them their opinion of the neighbourhood. Do they know of people who have home businesses on the street such as a daycare that might impact noise levels or other businesses that might take up street parking? Ask them if they know of any other neighbours who might be considering selling their home. Who knows? That place may be even better.

Drop by at All Hours – Okay not really but you should see what your neighbourhood is like at different times of the day. Is your street noisy or quiet in the evening? Do cars use it as a thoroughfare during rush hour? It’s a good idea to visit the area on weekends too. If you can, also check it out in early morning.

Visit the Town Crier – Neighbourhood news might be available in a local newspaper or online blog or newsletter of some kind. Find out. Read up on the community and find out its stories, its highs and its lows.  Pay close attention to crime stories or reports of break ins and sexual assaults. Read the classified section if there is one. Surprisingly, you can learn a lot about a community thanks to the wide assortment of ads found usually at the back of the paper.

Find the Crimes – Last year, the Toronto Police Service unveiled a new tool for tracking crime throughout the city. The Toronto Police Service Maps and Data Portal provide an interactive map of the city and show a variety of major crime indicators for each week. The map includes information about such crimes as sexual assault, robbery, break and enters and auto theft, among others.

Schools – Whether you have kids or not, don’t underestimate the value of good schools. You may eventually have a family and you’ll want them to get a good education. But even if children aren’t in your plans, schools, especially good ones, add value to your home. There are plenty of websites on which to explore the best city schools.

There is nothing like living in a neighbourhood to get a real sense of what the community is all about. While that’s usually not possible, doing your homework before you move into a new neighbourhood is the next best thing.

 

Window of Opportunity for You and Your Home

Friday, July 15th, 2016

If it’s true that windows are like the eyes of a house, then it’s time to take those peepers a little more seriously.

At Freeman Real Estate, we’re a bit obsessive about windows and eaves, so much so, in fact, that we’re offering a 20 per cent discount on window and eaves trough cleaning when services are purchased through Maple Window & Eaves Cleaning.Image result for cleaning windows

“Windows really lend character and aesthetics to a home,” says Elden Freeman, president of Freeman Real Estate.”And while their shape, size and colour all contributes to the overall appeal of a home’s exterior, one of the easiest and cheapest things a homeowner can do to improve the look of their house both inside and out is to clean their windows.”

The FreemanTeam, which comprises more than 30 full-time realtors, is sponsoring the discount offer, which expires July 31, 2016. Ranked number one for real estate services in midtown/downtown, according to sales data from the Toronto Real Estate Board, the acclaimed real estate team is co-headed by broker Daniel Freeman and broker of record Elden Freeman.

The family-run boutique realtor has been a fixture in Toronto real estate since 1972 and is part of an exclusive community as one of a small number of family-owned and operated brokerages in Toronto.

The FreemanTeam offers a different approach to the Toronto real estate market, specializing in the unique homes, character properties, and condo developments that make up the city’s downtown, midtown, and uptown areas.

The team’s style is distinctly urban in flavour, and its team of professionals are in tune with the diverse lifestyles and opportunities that make up Toronto’s most colourful communities in the core of Canada’s largest city.

Call 647-222-5678 or visit www.maplewindowcleaning.com to schedule an appointment. The discount is available only when doing both window and eaves trough cleaning to your home.

Brexit & Canadian Real Estate

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Instability in the UK in the wake of the recent Brexit vote could actually crank up the heat on Toronto’s real estate market, say experts.

The uncertainty in global markets thanks to England’s decision to leave the European Union could serve to fuel Canada’s red-hot housing market because interest rates will likely remain low, according to BMO Nesbitt Burns.

“In that event, the Fed will remain on ice even longer and Canadian rates will again probe all-time lows, keeping mortgage rates at an extremely low ebb and thus further fanning the flames in the domestic housing market,” said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter and senior economist Robert Kavcic.

The pair issued the warning in their latest report, which dealt with the various factors driving the out-of-control price increases in Vancouver and Toronto.

Brexit could be good news for those interested in investing.  According to Mortgage Broker News, there is a phenomenal amount of capital looking for commercial real estate and those foreign investors think an investment in Canadian real estate is a sure thing. Expect foreign investment in Vancouver and Toronto to continue.

As for how Brexit will impact mortgage rates, Toronto’s mortgage planner David Larock suspects the vote would not have any damaging effects on Canadian borrowers, at least not for the foreseeable future.

“Over the longer term, while the Brexit heightens global financial risks and raises the potential for increased volatility in financial markets, any related flare ups should trigger a capital flight to safety that would be expected to put downward pressure on our bond yields and therefore our mortgage rates,” the analyst wrote.

Given the state of Canada’s economy, which the Bank of Canada warned will push the country back into a recession in the second quarter, it’s very likely interest rates will remain at historically low levels.

“As we’ve grown to expect, rock bottom interest rates are expected to keep mortgage lenders busy for the foreseeable future,” wrote Sam Bourgi at www.canadianmortgages.ca

 

Be True to Your School

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

A private school may be too costly, a public school too basic and a catholic school, too religious. There are clearly a number of options parents have today when choosing a school for their little ones. But the question we want to address is whether or not the quality of a school should affect your decision to purchase a home.

Believe it or not, this is a growing trend among home buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors in the U.S., proximity to top schools is one of the most influential factors in making a decision to purchase a house. The association found that 29 per cent of buyers listed school quality and 22 per cent cited closeness to schools as deciding factors in purchasing a home.

Often a good school means the neighbourhood in which it resides is also a good one. Look for safety stats and services such as Neighbourhood Watch programs, access to public transportation, and amenities such as parks, restaurants and places of worship.

It’s said a great school district can buoy a neighbourhood’s prices even when the market turns down so there is good reason to choose an area based on its schools.

A good school often means you can ask a higher selling price.  Though resale values and home equity may seem like far-off notions to you now, they are something you should always be thinking about when buying a home. Homes situated in good school districts are not only valued higher, they also take less time to sell.

But perhaps the best reason that should influence you buying in an area known for its schools is your children. It’s natural to want a better life for your kids and school is a defining part of their formative years so choose wisely.

Thanks to the introduction of standardized testing in Ontario schools in 1995 parents have an easy way to evaluate schools, though educators and non-educators alike will tell you that EQAO results shouldn’t be the only determining factor of a school’s quality.

Still, the scores are worth noting when schools are a top consideration for which neighbourhood you will choose to live in. Once a year, the Fraser Institute publishes a national report card on elementary and secondary schools across the country. Thanks to data gleaned from mandatory province-wide literacy and math tests the FI awards public schools a ranking out of 10 with 1 being the lowest.

For the full FI report visit https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/ontario-secondary-school-rankings-2016.pdf

For info about its interactive school website rankings visit  http://ontario.compareschoolrankings.org/secondary/SchoolsByRankLocationName.aspx

The Empty Nest Solution

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Isn’t it funny how that space you so wanted 30 years ago seems all a bit much today?

Welcome to the empty nest, that stage in life where your kids have flown the coop and where you and your partner are examining your next phase in life. You may be looking at retirement or far from it. One thing’s for sure, you’re starting to wonder if the house you’re in is too big for your reduced family size.

Renting out a basement apartment or a bedroom is a great option for empty nesters. Not only does it provide added income, but it can also offer solitary empty nesters company or at the very least a psychological buffer knowing that they’re not home alone.


Here, according to real estate investor Don Campbell, are some aspects you need to consider before hanging up the ‘For Rent’ sign.

Privacy

You will likely have to forgo some of it. Is that something you can live with? Will the extra income be worth your diminished privacy? You need to decide if you can handle having a renter in your residence especially if your rental space doesn’t come with its own separate entrance.

Family not so much

It’s difficult to enforce eviction or collection rules with a family member without it ruffling feathers throughout the family. Avoid if at all possible.

Sign a lease

A properly written lease signed by you and the tenant or tenants is a must. Make sure it outlines the rules, late rent penalties, expectations, and length of term.

Don’t lowball

If you offer the lowest rent you attract tenants whose only focus is on dollars. This will likely lead to quick turnovers as your renter leaves for the next lowest rental. Look online at other similar rentals in your area and set your price in the middle or higher end.

Do your research

Read up on landlord-tenant legislation so you know the rules. You should also bone up on local municipal bylaws and learn about guidelines and standards for fire and building safety, zoning and permits. Call your municipal office or go online to find out more.

Inform insurance

Be sure to let your home insurer know that you are renting out a portion of your home.

Research the tax repercussions

Once you become a landlord you have to claim your rental income on your taxes.  Also know that a portion of the capital gain when selling the property could be deemed taxable.


Being a landlord isn’t for the faint of heart. You will want someone who pays their rent on time, leads a reasonably quiet life and respects your property as if it was their own. While that may sound like a tall order, how you seek out a tenant can make a difference.

Advertise your rental with a sign on your property or house. Consider placing a classified ad in newspapers or post a flyer in grocery stores, libraries and places of worship. Be sure to let your friends, family and neighbours know that you’re on the hunt for an ideal tenant because sometimes word of mouth is the best advertising.

If you are looking for a student, contact campus housing offices at colleges and universities near your home. And don’t forget online platforms.

The Ultimate Top 5 No-No’s when Selling

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Brisk real estate markets like Toronto or Vancouver are great for sellers because of the high level of interest among buyers, many of whom are hungry, perhaps desperate some might say to capture their own properties.

Given this seller’s market, it’s understandable that a seller might be inclined to slack off a bit when it comes to keeping their home in tip-top shape. That’s never advisable. When buyers observe signs of neglect and carelessness they begin to question a property and suddenly your highly sought-after house is not so hot to trot any more.

With that in mind, let’s look at the Top 5 No-No’s sellers need to correct or address before putting their house on the market.

  1. Filth & Junk – Even though the dirtiest of messes can be eventually cleaned up, this has to be one of the top sins. Hide your dirty laundry from plain view. If you don’t have time to wash dishes, put them in the dishwasher.  If that’s not an option hide them temporarily in a bin in your oven. Take out the trash; make your beds and scrub sinks and toilets. As for clutter, it comes in varying degrees. Ask your realtor for suggestions about what areas you need to tackle first.
  2. Doggy Do’s & Don’ts – As cute, lovable, fun and furry as your pets may be, others are apt to approach pets with a high degree of caution. There are a wide range of reasons why strangers won’t like your pets, from matters around cleanliness and safety to everything in between. Some buyers find pets and their messes a huge turn-off so knowing that your house houses one can be cause for concern. It may take some effort, but you’re best to hide any signs of animals, especially when it comes to property damage such as scratch marks on doors or urine stains in carpeting.  Take care of pet-related issues before listing your house and try to take your pets with you during showings.
  3. Don’t Be a Stalker – Interested buyers feel the need to keep their distance from the seller so don’t be tempted to shadow them as they tour your home. Nothing could be worse. You are not being helpful by pointing out technical features of your basement sauna or interesting gossip about the celebrities that live on your street. This is the job of the realtor. Use your agent to communicate selling features. Having the seller linger around the house while it is being shown is detrimental as the purchaser will never feel 100 per cent at ease, which will encumber how they feel about your house in general, no matter how beautiful and reasonably priced.
  4. Stinkeroo – The thing about bad smells is that the only way to escape them is by leaving the dwelling. This is not a good message to convey to a prospective buyer. And yes, you may love garlic and eat it at every meal, but the smell can be overpowering and, believe it or not, offensive to some people. Other olfactory insults can include such cooking smells as bacon and fish. Try not to cook those strong-smelling foods right before or even the day before a showing.  Even more disgusting is the smell of cigarette smoke. Take your butts outside. Animal smells from litter boxes and dirty pets are also highly off-putting.
  5. Reality Bites – Don’t be unrealistic about your house. Yes, it’s a hot real estate market but that doesn’t mean a way-too-high asking price coupled with a property that is rarely available for showings will get you what you want. Try to take the emotion and ego out of selling your home. Price it realistically and make it ready and available for showings.

Do Home Renovations Hike Property Values?

Friday, February 5th, 2016

As with just about anything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. When it comes to remodelling your home, you need to consider a number of factors, which are often complex and challenging, before deciding if a home renovation is of value.

It’s a good idea to start off by thinking about how long you plan to live in the house. Do you intend to raise your children there? Or is this home simply a stepping stone to something bigger and better? Perhaps you want to downsize now that the kids are gone or maybe your house is outdated and a little tired and in desperate need of some TLC?

Next consider your budget. Are you willing to spend $5,000 or $50,000 on that main-floor bathroom reno?

Now you need to devise a plan that honours your purpose and your budget. If you’ve always dreamed of cooking meals in a deluxe, restaurant-style kitchen and you have the funds to support this costly renovation and you think it’s well worth the expense, go for it. But be aware that changes you make today may not net you great gains five or ten years from now when you go to sell your house.  If, however, you’re updating your kitchen with the hope of selling quickly, nix the gourmet kitchen and go for something more modest and economical.

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There is plenty of online information about how to determine the dollar value of a renovation. But there is no easy formula. Most of us know that in-ground swimming pools, wall-to-wall carpeting and sunroom additions aren’t the best remodeling projects, investment-wise. Getting the most bang for your home-improvement buck can be influenced by many factors, including your local real estate market and the style of home in which you live.

Knowing your neighbourhood before setting out to refurbish your home is critical. This will help you in your decision making and prevent you from making an alteration that may cause your house to stand out like a sore thumb. Also, understanding your neighbourhood will stop you from installing a $75,000 home theatre in a house that’s worth $400,000.

The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) warns homeowners about spending too much for a home renovation:  “If the value of your house exceeds the average market value in your neighbourhood, your renovations will not yield much return. But if your house value is below the average, you can recover a larger part of the renovation costs.”

The AIC recommends choosing renovations that have a long life expectancy such as roofing and new windows, updating your kitchen and bathroom, cheaper upgrades such as paint and landscaping, and energy-efficient improvements.

It’s something of a real-estate mantra that reasonable kitchen and bathroom improvement projects tend to offer the highest rate of return on your investment. But remember not to overdo the remodel. Refurbishing your home to accommodate a separate apartment is also a good idea that will likely increase the value of your house in addition to your earnings thanks to the rental income.

In the end, you need to evaluate your finances and your current and future housing needs. And know that the only sure thing when renovating is having a home improvement project that will be anything but easy, cheap or fast.

January is the Right Time to Sell

Monday, January 18th, 2016

It`s hot. It`s cold. It`s slumping. It`s smoking.

Each of those descriptors has described the Toronto real estate market at one time or another. And while it`s important to pay the market its due, know also that if you`re thinking of selling your home now is probably one of the best times to do so.

If you are thinking of waiting for warmer temperatures when the blooms on the daffodils and forsythia cast a gorgeous golden glow on your home and invite prospective purchasers far and wide, think again. Springtime is when the bulk of homeowners will also decide it`s best to sell their homes. Yes, your blossoms will look pretty, but your house will have much more in the way of competition if you wait for spring.

While January may not seem like the ideal month to show your home, there is much less inventory on the market right now so your real estate is apt to stand out more. Besides if buyers are house hunting in January, they are likely very serious and motivated purchasers and not your run-of-the-mill tire-kicker types. Would you trudge through cold temperatures, ice and snow just to check out someone`s mudroom reno? Didn`t think so.

Bear in mind, too, that if you list your home in January, it will be viewed as a debutante, of sorts. Much of your house`s competition will be older listings that came on the market in November and December so with your house being the new kid on the block, that`s sure to drive and generate even greater interest.

Because there`s less inventory in January and February, bidding wars can be ferocious. And naturally, as the seller, that`s good news for you.

A Bird’s Eye View of Toronto Neighbourhoods

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Since the business of real estate is a big part of our DNA at Freeman Real Estate we are always looking at new ways to showcase our products and services.

And what better way to do so than with videos that capture the essence of a neighbourhood and bring life to buildings, houses, condos and commercial spaces. That’s precisely what you’ll find at www.annexrealestate.com, Freeman’s latest website featuring the videos of ten key neighbourhoods thanks to a high-flying drone camera. The videos, which are set to music, feature both wide aerial shots of neighbourhoods and close-up views of houses, businesses, parks, public spaces, institutions, people and streetscapes.

“The vantage point you get is just spectacular,” says Elden Freeman, president of Freeman Real Estate. “The videos really do tell a story of each neighbourhood. I think people who aren’t particularly familiar with certain areas will definitely want to view these short films. They give you a better feel for an area and might help you decide if you would want to live or do business there. And if you are familiar with these neighbourhoods, I suggest viewing them as a reminder of how amazing, vibrant and beautiful our city really is.”

While nothing surpasses visiting a neighbourhood in person, the aerial views in each of the two-minute videos can’t be beat. Neighbourhoods featured include the Annex, Hillcrest, Casa Loma, Wychwood Park, Humewood-Cedarvale, Oakwood-Vaughan, South Annex, Little Italy, Seaton Village and Christie Village.

The website also includes plenty of information that will help you make an informed decision about your next real estate venture. Each neighbourhood’s average list price and sale price are posted in addition to the number of homes for sale and the number of homes that sold during the previous month. You can also search listings based on price and the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms you require.

Happy watching.

Considering the Life of a Landlord? Take this Quiz

Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Like Fred and Ethel Mertz, those madcap but lovable landlords of I Love Lucy fame, you may have dreamt of managing a property with tenants or maybe just renting out the upper or lower floor of your house or perhaps buying a condo and having someone else pay off the mortgage.

 

So what’s holding you back? Are you afraid you’ll get the tenant from hell? Or maybe you fear you’ll be too soft on tenants who can’t pay their rent on time. Maybe you just don’t like people well enough to want to surround yourself with virtual strangers. With interest rates as low as they are, with Toronto’s red-hot real estate market and given the numbers moving to the city each year, now might be the time to consider diving in.

 

We designed a very unscientific test to see if you’re cut out to manage a rental property. Give it a try:

 

  1. Handyman is a word that: _________
A) Gets your heart pumping with happy thoughts of many visits to Home Depot.
B) Is properly used for your skills as a grass cutter, eaves-trough cleaner and window washer.
C) Gets overused. I like repairman, as in phone one.

 

  1. You and your partner’s financial goals are: _________
A) Completely simpatico.
B) On the same page 40 per cent of the time.
C) News to me. I had no idea my partner had financial goals.

 

  1. Your idea of a rainy-day fund is: _________
A) Two per cent of the purchase price for maintenance and repairs plus more in reserves for unforeseen occurrences such as tenants failing to pay their rent.
B) Putting aside a few bucks for upkeep when it’s convenient for me.
C) Money you spend to lift your spirits during a downpour.

 

  1. You see tenants as: _________
A) Valued and respected members of society just like me.
B) Good people for the most part.
C) Cash cows.

 

  1. As a landlord, being hassled by tenants would mean: _________
A) Continually having to chase down those who didn’t pay their rent on time or having abusive renters who destroyed my property.
B) Sending out rent receipts on a regular basis.
C) Having to speak to them.

 

  1. In conflict situations, you: _________
A) Always remain cool, calm and collected, handling each quarrel decisively with firm resolve and fairness.
B) Hesitate and change my mind several times when dealing with big issues.
C) Yell

 

Results:
If most of your answers were a’s, congratulations, you’ve got what it takes, you, landlord, you. Property management is right up your alley.

 

If you mostly answered b’s, you have some positive landlord qualities, but you might want to take a course to brush up on the rest. Workshops and courses are available. Check online in your area. You also might want to consider joining the Ontario Landlords Association, which offers discounts on credit checks plus other benefits.
If you scored mainly c’s, well, maybe you should leave your money in the bank.
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.