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Archive for the ‘Rentals’ Category

The Benefits to Buying & Selling in Fall

Monday, September 10th, 2018

There’s a time-worn saying in real estate that location, location, location is everything but anyone who has bought and sold property once or twice knows that success in the market also hinges on timing, timing, timing.

If you missed the hot spring market, you’re in luck as fall runs a close second in terms of being the most desirable time to buy or sell your home. Here’s why:

Buyers are serious

It’s true that there are fewer buyers in fall, no doubt, but those that are out there tend to be more serious about the practice of purchasing a home. Not to discredit spring buyers, but when the real estate market heats up into a whirling frenzy you invariably end up with buyers who are simply caught up in the tumultuous trend. A number of them enjoy touring homes and kicking tires. Fall buyers aren’t as affected by the whirlwind of activity as they otherwise would be joining their counterparts in spring.  These home buyers are ready to put their money where their mouth is and they are interested in investing in a home or property instead of merely checking out how well or poorly a home is staged.

Fewer irons in the fire 

We all know competition can be fierce during a spring market. That’s when the majority of sellers list their homes in order to accommodate summertime moves thanks in large part to school-aged children and other family needs. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages to selling your home in the fall is the fact there is far less inventory available, which puts your property in greater demand.

Before the snow flies 

If you buy or sell early enough in fall, you could be settled into your new home before any inclement weather begins knocking or just in time for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. In addition, a fall move will likely go easier on your wallet than a move in spring or summer.

Families aren’t the only buying demographic 

It makes sense why families with children choose to buy or sell in the spring. Their kids need not be uprooted during the school year and moving in summer is simply easier and less disruptive for little ones. But there are plenty of childless consumer groups who buy and sell real estate. Young professionals, seniors and empty nesters, to name a few.

The beauty of autumn 

It’s true that one of the reasons the spring market is so popular is because that’s when properties are at their most captivating. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding and lawns look lush and green. But the fall is clearly no runner up in the home beauty pageant department. Trees display a magnificent variation of colour in fall. Certain flowers are still in blossom or just emerging then. Add to your exterior’s curb appeal with a beautiful wreath or door swag. Given that Thanksgiving and Halloween occur in October, there are plenty of visual cues from which to draw inspiration for outdoor decorating.

Smaller Condo Buildings May be the Answer

Monday, August 20th, 2018

If you’re a millennial hoping to build your life and grow a family within the city, you will likely know that Toronto’s condo boom is also in short supply of family friendly units.

While developers have spent the past decade or so building smaller condo units with single folks or investors in mind, a 2017 housing report by Ryerson University and Urbanation points out that developers and city planners need to look at the changing demographic landscape to help guide the housing development of tomorrow. The report notes that as millennials mature and begin to raise families and as baby boomers age and decide to move out of their homes and into condos, the city will require more family-oriented housing units for these groups.

Yet condos are getting taller and smaller overall. Proportionately speaking, developers are building fewer two-bedroom condo units than ever before. The size of so-called family units is shrinking when compared with, say, a three-bedroom condo from a decade or two ago. Many condos buildings are towers, and as such, considered unliveable by some. At the same time, affordability has also taken a hit. For example, in 2007, the price gap between a detached house and average condo was $205,000. In 2017, the difference jumped to over $600,000.

The report titled Bedrooms in the Sky calls for a shift in how developers meet the housing needs of the future and the so-called “missing middle” housing options that fall somewhere in between a detached home and small condo apartments.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“This missing middle includes low-rise walk-ups and stacked townhouses that can infill low-density neighbourhoods predominated by single-family homes,” says the report. “Mid-rise buildings can also help bridge the gap between detached houses and small apartment units. Mid-rise buildings tend to include larger units and can be more attractive to families than high-rise buildings due to their moderate scale and better integration into existing communities.”

At the time of the report’s release in November, 2017, just three per cent of condos slated for development in the GTA were in buildings under five storeys and only seven per cent were for five to eight storeys.

Buildings under six storeys can be built using wood-frame construction, a feature offering developers greater flexibility, according to the report.

Building bedrooms in the sky for growing families may be the way of the future for those who want to own property in the GTA. In order for families to stay put, developers need to make condos that are spacious and family friendly. That requires political will and the recognition that if condo prices continue to climb, good families will be forced to relocate outside the city.

 

 

Weird Gardening Terms You Need to Know

Monday, August 6th, 2018

There are still a few good months to go in our efforts to manage and maintain our lawns and gardens.

While simply keeping on top of your vegetable garden and grass trimming can be work enough, August is a good time to get to know your garden a little better. So let’s explore those vaguely familiar, weird-sounding lawn-and-garden chores that you can begin applying. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find one you really like doing.

Deadheading:

This, quite simply, is the process of removing dead or dying blossoms from flowers and shrubs. The purpose for doing so is that it encourages the growth of more blooms.

Aerating:

This process pokes small holes in your grass so that air, water and nutrients can more easily penetrate the grass roots. This makes your grass stronger and greener.

Dethatching:

If healthy grass is important to you, you may want to take this step. Thatch is that layer of dead grass that sinks down into the soil line. As thatch builds, it prevents water and nutrients from leaching down into the roots.

Aphids:

These small insects are likely not an avid gardener’s favourite creature. Aphids suck sap from plants and they can cause heavy-duty damage to plants, shrubs and crops.

Biodegradable:

This word applies to natural substances that break down or decompose quickly thanks to the work of microorganisms. Food, leaves, wood, paper and cotton are all examples of biodegradable products.

Dibble:

These smallish tools might save your finger nails as the point makes holes in the ground for seeds, plants or bulbs.

Heirloom:

When plants are called heirloom, this refers to old fruit, flower and vegetable plants that have been grown by gardeners and farmers since before World War Two. These plants are generally grown in small-scale operations.

Hydroponics:

This is the art and science of growing plants without soil.

Irrigation:

This essentially means delivering water to your lawn and garden. When you sprinkle water on your flowers, whether with a watering can or hose, though there are many other methods, you are irrigating.

Symbiosis:

This is the relationship that occurs when life forms interact with each other. Sometimes it is beneficial, sometimes not. For example, marigolds release a chemical that wards off a type of worm. Beneficial, right?

Succulent:

All the rage right now, this often thick and fleshy type of plant retains water in dry climates.

Xeriscaping:

This is a type of water-saving garden that works well in drought conditions. Native flowers, plants and shrubs are ideal for this as they are accustomed to our climate. These gardens tend to be less maintenance and attract birds and beneficial insects.

Is Toronto’s Condo Supply Family Friendly?  

Friday, July 27th, 2018

Young families hamstrung by the lack of affordability within the city’s freehold housing market are looking to condos to raise their children in more affordable living spaces.

For the estimated 13 per cent of Toronto families that often means family-sized or three-bedroom condos. But good luck finding them. Many of today’s newer condos comprise some pretty un-family friendly traits: high carrying costs, meagre layouts and small quarters. As a result, these units end up being rented by students or young professionals who share the costs with their roommates.

According to Bedrooms in the Sky, a 2017 report by Ryerson University and Urbanation, Toronto may be experiencing a condo boom but it is not building enough family-friendly condos to meet demand. Even though condo construction is geared toward one-bedroom units, developers are building fewer two-bedroom units proportionately than ever before. Urbanation, a high-rise condo development tracking consultancy, says only 38 per cent of condos in development in November 2017 were two bedrooms and larger.

That condo developments are enjoying a boom period is without question. Census data shows that 129,000 of Toronto’s families lived in condos in 2016, up 8.9 per cent from 118,000 in 2011, and well above the national average of 8.4 per cent.

But Toronto doesn’t lay claim to the highest number of condo dwellers. In Vancouver more than 30 per cent of the population lives in condos, this, according to the CBC, is far and away the highest percentage in the country. In Calgary, nearly 22 per cent of residents call condos home, followed by Abbotsford-Mission, Kelowna and Toronto, all of which have more than one out of every five households living in a condominium.

The problem, many say, comes down to simple economics. Large, family-sized condos aren’t favoured by developers because it’s difficult to keep them reasonably priced. They also earn more per square foot on smaller condo units.

The report by Ryerson and Urbanation states that there may be some hope for family-friendly condo units of 3+ bedrooms as they are trending upwards, however, these dwellings generally have a resale price of more than $900,000, making them far from affordable.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The report’s authors warn that if these construction trends continue, the number of family-friendly housing units available in neighbourhoods close to transit, school and other services will continue to decrease, likely along with affordability.

Changing Lanes

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Toronto is finally poised to embrace laneway housing.

The move to approve laneway houses across the old City of Toronto has been hard fought and a long time in the making. In 2006, the city rejected laneway housing imposing strict conditions that virtually made it impossible for most homeowners to build a separate dwelling in their back alley.

But the bull real estate market of recent years, which resulted in a housing crisis in terms of affordability, is credited with transforming the thinking on laneway housing and finally opening city planners’ eyes to creative housing alternatives.

Only a handful of examples of these secondary suites exist in the city now. The directive, if approved by council, means about 250 kilometres of Toronto laneways could be used as possible laneway housing projects. Currently, these back lanes are lined mostly with garages but under the new rules, they could be replaced by houses up to two-storeys high.

In early June, the Toronto East York Community Council voted to amend the city’s Official Plan and Zoning By-Law to allow laneway suites in Toronto and East York. The issue must now be considered by the full Toronto council.

A laneway house is a small dwelling at the back of a residential lot that is detached from the main house. Its services such as water, electricity, garbage and mail all come from the front street that the primary house is on, not the laneway. Laneway homes can be used as residences for family members or as rental units. These dwellings cannot be severed and sold separate from the main house, however.

The advantages to laneway housing are numerous: it increases the quality of affordable rental housing, it lets people stay in pretty, well-established and low-rise neighbourhoods, it intensifies neighbourhoods and makes urban lanes more green, liveable and safe, it allows people to live near where they work, shop and play and they provides living space for household members at different age and stages of life.

Since 2009, Vancouver has been home to over 500 laneway homes. Ottawa has recently launched a laneway housing policy and Regina is close to doing so also.

 

 

 

Summertime and the Living Needs Real Estate

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

When the days are at their longest, warmest and most sun-drenched, we often feel like taking it easy.

This is the time to sit on the verandah with a tall glass of ice tea, or maybe it’s a good time to putter around your yard, extracting the odd weed and deciding what perennials need to be divided. The heat seems to slow us down a notch and force us to focus on the minutiae of life. If you’re a proponent of meditation, gurus might say it’s an ideal time to live in the moment.

Unfortunately, living in the now is not how most of us buy and sell houses. And while many think summer is a time for chilling, the commerce of everyday life often gets in the way. If you’re thinking of holding off the sale or purchase of a home until the fall, you may want to think again.

Did you know that estimates peg home sales during summer at somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent?  There are a number of reasons for this. The fact that these reasons all converge in summer is likely why. Let’s take a look:

Mild Weather

Say what you will about the weather but it’s a big factor in how we behave. Warm temperatures generally mean we’re out and about much more, possibly taking holidays or just enjoying the heat from our back patio.

If you’re taking vacation during the summer months, this gives you more time to house hunt or to get your home ready for the real estate market. If your windows need washing and your hallway could use a fresh coat of paint, now is the time to do it. If you can’t take holidays during June, July or August, you can at least take advantage of the long weekends summer offers to get some of these chores out of the way.

Boost curb appeal

Houses and neighbourhoods, in general, look most attractive in summer. Blossoms are in full bloom, trees are lush and full and lawns are green. Make sure you keep shrubs and bushes trimmed, weeds at bay and your windows washed. You might want to place some inviting furniture on your porch or a decorative wreath on your front door. This makes potential buyers feel more welcome and at ease.

Ideal time for moving 

For families with school-age children, summertime is the easiest and most convenient time to move. But it may also be a good time to hunt for a house or to sell one.  While children aren’t the main decision makers in a household, their opinions do count so it stands to reason that they should attend showings and open houses. On the flip side, if selling your house in summer, perhaps your kids can help you get your house ready for showings? Give them age-appropriate jobs like sweeping the walkway or straightening the pillows on the sofa. Remember details count and children can appreciate the finer points.

 

Grass alternatives are greener and better

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

As our climate heats up every year, the matter of lawns invariably creeps into our consciousness.

As spring approaches, homeowners’ heads fill with questions and concerns about their grass. Is aerating worth the money? Can I keep pests away in a manner that is eco-friendly? How can I find the extra time to maintain my lawn and keep it looking like a lush green emerald carpet? My neighbour paved over his grass. Can I do the same?

Our view toward lawns is changing. Not the ultimate landscape material it once was, grass is less popular compared to its heyday as homeowners now look for ways to save time, money and the environment.

We’re not trying to dump on traditional lawns, but there are clearly some great alternatives available that look attractive and are more environmentally sound than traditional turf grass. Just think of the time and money you’ll have for other pursuits.

Here are some options worth considering:

Fake grass 

It’s green, it’s even, it’s soft. What’s not to like? Artificial turf can easily be mistaken for the real deal. No cutting or weeding required, the turf can last up to 15 years. Your only maintenance is keeping it clean by hosing it down or vacuuming it. Artificial grass is expensive to install but you’re initial investment is rewarded in time and money saved from not having to water or fertilize the lawn or to cut it.

Hardscaping your lawn 

This technique essentially describes the addition of elements to your lawn and garden that consist of paved areas, decks, wood chips, stones or fountains. These dry gardens are further enhanced by adding any combination of native ornamental grasses, plants and shrubs alongside hard elements such as stone chips, pea gravel and larger decorative rocks.

While folks either love or hate the look of a paved-over front lawn, there are plenty of environmental reasons for not turning your grass into a tarmac. And, according to the Toronto Star, the process of getting approvals for paving your front yard is not an easy one.

Garden of Edibles

Talk about eating the fruits of your labour. Installing a garden that yields fruits and vegetables has its own set of benefits, perhaps the foremost being the sense of satisfaction you get from growing your own food.

Native plants and ground covers

The beauty of these species is that they survive, and thrive even, with very little outside help. Ground covers come in a variety of shapes, colours and blooms. Consider Creeping Potentilla, a drought tolerant low-growing plant that produces yellow flowers, Scotch Moss, perfect for growing in the cracks between stones or Thyme, which attracts insects and can withstand moderate foot traffic.

If you prefer taller plants, try indigenous flowers and shrubs. Asters, Coneflower, Milkweed and violets make for a colourful garden that will attract bees and butterflies. For bushes and shrubs and to fill bigger spaces, try Chokeberry, Dogwood, Honeysuckle and Yew.

While the transition may take some getting used to, know that you are free to pursue more enjoyable pastimes than lawn maintenance. Know also that you are doing your part for the environment as half of all residential water usage in summer is due to lawn watering with much of that water lost to evaporation and run-off, according to Environment Canada.

 

Buying a Condo Resale versus Pre-Construction

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Now that your heart is set on purchasing a condo you need to decide if you want to buy resale or one that hasn’t yet gotten off the ground.

Each has their pros and cons. What you select probably depends on your personality. So let’s examine both.

Resale

I can see it 

This option allows you to visualize what you are buying up close and personal. No guessing, no trying to picture yourself walking through the condo based on a 3-D rendering and wondering if you will truly like the layout, space and design elements. Same goes for the neighbourhood. You will get a sense of the kind of commercial activity and green spaces currently in your area as opposed to projecting possibilities with a pre-construction condo that can take years to materialize.

Waiting Game 

With a resale condo, you can move in right away or as soon as you close so there is little waiting, if at all. This is perfect for the patiently challenged among us.

Math Made Easy 

Calculations are a breeze as your mortgage is pre-approved and you can then figure out your monthly payments so you know what you’re dealing with.

Room to Breathe 

Older resale condo units typically contain more square footage in terms of living and storage space. If size matters to you, this may be a factor worth considering.

Renovation Expenses 

Odds are if you unit was lived in for any length of time, you may want to invest in some home renovations and repairs.

Pre-Construction

It’s Tailor-made 

One of the big benefits to buying a condo before it’s built is that you can customize to your heart’s content. Being able to select that bamboo flooring you’ve always loved or certain appliances and cabinetry can really add to the charm of buying this way.

Save Your Pennies 

Pre-construction gives you more time to save for your condo. This is because you pay the builder a number of payments which total a deposit in the neighbourhood of 20 to 25 per cent of the purchase price.

Appreciation 

There are no guarantees, of course, but often the value of your condo increases from when you buy it to when you actually move in.

Delays

It’s not uncommon to experience setbacks that impede the progression of construction so being sure you have a stable place to hang your hat as your condo is being built is important.

What are the Fees? 

With pre-construction you don’t know what your maintenance fees and property taxes will be. Of course, you can guess but they will likely change by the time your building is ready. Also, pre-construction units are subject to HST.

Dust, Dirt & Chaos 

You might have the keys to your unit, but the builder still have lots of work to do. If you don’t mind the commotion and the mess and can handle living in a condo that still needs some tweaking, this may not be a problem for you.

 

Sources: www.sunlife.ca, www.baystreetblog.com, www.lowestrates.ca

 

How to integrate condos and pets

Friday, May 11th, 2018

There are a million considerations to mull over before deciding to buy a condo. One you should not neglect centres on your furry and feathered friends and how warmly they’ll be welcomed, if at all, in your new digs.

Not all condominium corporations love domesticated animals equally. So if bringing your four-legged friend or pet turtle with you is a priority that is definitely something you need to discuss with your realtor, who should be able to advise you. If they can’t or won’t, it’s time to get a new agent.

At Freeman Real Estate, where we encourage staff to bring their pets to work, we’ve even dedicated part of our website to finding the perfect pet-friendly Toronto Condo. We know the public loves their pets and will go to great lengths to accommodate them. In fact, a CBC.ca report from 2017 cited a city estimate that there are between four to eight pets living on every high-rise floor in the city.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The thing to know is that every condo building varies in its rules about pets with some banning them altogether. In order to get the low-down on a particular building you need something called a condo status certificate which outlines the dos and don’ts of your condo. Your real-estate agent may already have copies of the certificates but if not you can get them for a small fee.

So what kind of regulations do condo boards typically have? They vary and cover a wide assortment of items. More common restrictions include rules about leashing pets and ensuring that they are registered and guidelines as to how many pets you can have in your unit and what size and weight your pets can be. There are even some that govern the type of pet so goats or chickens are forbidden because they would be deemed to be livestock.

If you’re something of a rebel and you think the condo board members will fall in love with your 90-kilo English Mastiff and disregard their weight restrictions, think again. Unless you can prove that your pet is with you for medical reasons (as recognized by the Human Rights Code), you may be in for a bitter and pricey fight. In 2015, The Toronto Star reported on a case that ended when the dog was ordered to be removed from the condo. The judge awarded $47,000 in court costs to the condo corporation “which can be collected by way of a lien” against the condo unit in question. The legal costs incurred by the condo dwellers could have easily doubled their bill, the story reported. They argued that their dog, Peaches, should be permitted despite weighing 15 pounds more than what the bylaws allowed.

It just goes to show you that it’s important to be mindful of the rules. Besides there are plenty of GTA condos that are very pet friendly, offering a host of amenities such as nearby parks, pet-washing stations and pet spas.

Sources: www.torontostar.ca, www.zoocasa.com, www.cbc.ca

Should Retirees Buy or Rent?

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

A spate of recent news reports have suggested that Canada’s seniors and retirees would be better off to rent their living space rather than to own it.

Proponents say there are a lot of freedoms that come with renting: it frees up your finances and your time from all of the indoor and outdoor maintenance that comes with owning a home. The other perhaps equally big benefit is the amount of equity homeowners can have access to upon selling.

Using that equity to pay for rent and some of life’s pursuits such as travel, cars and dining out are an added bonus. Oftentimes, senior homeowners might have enough equity stashed away that the returns on their invested funds nicely cover the cost of rent.

According to Moneysense.ca, 68 per cent of Canadians are homeowners with the rate rising as people age. The home ownership rate peaks to 75 per cent at about age 65. Rates level off until age 75, where they begin to decline.

But being a renter isn’t all fun and games. As a tenant, you have far less control than an owner about such pursuits as decorating, remodelling and owning pets. Growing accustomed to that loss of control can be frustrating and hard to handle, especially for someone who has owned their own home most of their adult life.

And being a cash-poor retiree whose assets are largely tied up their home’s equity isn’t the doom-and-gloom scenario it once was. With home equity lines of credit and reverse mortgages, seniors can tap into their home’s equity so they can enjoy the kind of lifestyle they’ve come to expect.

The other advantage is that your fixed housing costs likely won’t rise, unlike your rent. This, of course, does not hold true for property taxes and maintenance costs but it will for your mortgage especially if your rate is fixed. In fact, many senior homeowners live mortgage free so mortgage payments aren’t even an issue.

If you’re still uncertain and your decision comes down to dollars and cents, do the math. For buying, factor in mortgage costs, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance. Compare those numbers to rents in the area you’re interested in.  Use online websites to assess the rate increases that come with renting and be sure to include that in your calculations.

In the end, there really is no right or wrong answer to renting versus buying. Weigh the pros and cons of each and decide which suits you better.

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.