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Archive for the ‘Selling a Home’ Category

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.


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.


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.

Revive Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Revive Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Whether you’re thinking of selling your house or staying put, creating curb appeal is something every home owner seems to aspire to. Having an admiration worthy home is something many of us yearn for and some of us spend serious time and money trying to achieve.

There’s no better time than now to dust off the cobwebs, pack up winter gear and roll out springtime. Here is our must-do checklist for adding a bit of curb appeal:


The Front DoorFront Door

As the home’s focal point, your front door should be inviting and attractive. It should say, ‘You’re welcome here.’ Make sure it’s clean for starters. Paint it a pretty, eye-catching colour. Think of changing the hardware or adding an attractive door knocker. Finally, consider adorning it with an attractive spring wreath or door decoration.


What’s Your Number?

Is your house number clear and easy to read? Walk across the street to see yours. You don’t want the numbers blocked by shrubs or trees and it’s best if they’re placed near an outside light housenumberso the pizza delivery person can find you in the dark. Also, try to position the numbers horizontally because they are easier to read than if laid out vertically.



Garden in a Pot

gardenpotAdding to that welcoming feeling is a grouping of spring plants near your front door. Depending on your space place one great big pot or three various sized ones on your porch or the walkway near your front door. Providing your steps are wide enough, you can also use the sides of your front stairs to arrange pots bursting with spring blooms. Hanging pots of plants also lend curb appeal.


Pretty Up Your Porch

Many older city houses have a front porch ideal for watching the world go by or just being a nosy neighbour. Regardless, your porch can be an extension of your summertime living space so throw down an outdoor rug, a table and some patio furniture. Decorate your space with favourite colours and tchotchkes such as lanterns, pillows and candles. You’ll never want to go indoors.


Grass & Flower Beds

Is your lawn looking a little tired after winter’s abuse? You may need to reseed your graflowerbedss or replace patches of it. Cover your flower beds with natural mulch such as leaves, sawdust or shredded bark so they retain moisture longer and look even and finished.

Wash Windows & Siding

There’s nothing like clean windows and spotless siding to draw the eye. Try using a power washer or simply a regular hose with a washing attachment.

Look Up

Your roof should get a once over. Curling shingles or those that are crumbling should be looked at by a professional.


Predictions on the Lighter Side of Real Estate for 2015

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Put your hand up if you’re tired of hearing about bursting bubbles. My, there are a lot of you out there. Is it any wonder? untitled untitled1

Prognosticators have long been predicting that the sky is falling. For years, we’ve heard doom and gloom about rising interest rates and the dire consequences that will have on Toronto’s smoking hot real estate market.

As lifelong realtors who have been there, done that and just about seen it all, we’d like to offer our thoughts on what we think should take place in the real estate sector for 2015. Keep in mind that we make these suggestions with our tongues firmly planted in our cheeks.

Tip Your Realtor: That’s right, we said it first. You tip your hairstylist, your doorman, your newspaper delivery person. You offer gratuities to wait staff, taxi drivers and gardeners. If you feel you’ve received top-drawer service from your realtor why not give them a little extra? Or perhaps tickets to a theatre or sporting event or a weekend away at your cottage? We’d probably fall over but your kindness would be most appreciated.

Stop Talking about Rising Interest Rates: We’ve heard it for years and now it’s simply annoying. This reminds us of the self-proclaimed trendsetter who prides himself or herself in repeatedly saying red is the new black until – several years pass – and finally it is. We propose a new rule when it comes to making forecasts: the act of making predictions is punishable by death unless uttered six months before said incident is to happen.

You Drive: Clients would be better behind the wheel as that would allow realtors more opportunity to sweet talk you into a deal you hadn’t bargained for. While the realtor would naturally help navigate (turn left at the light, for example), clients, it could be argued, would begin to warm up to certain houses and neighbourhoods much sooner by experiencing the feeling that they are driving ‘home.’

Only Lookers Need Apply: Realtors will no longer be unattractive as this can be repugnant and off putting to some clients. Instead, they will have movie-star good looks with smooth skin, big bright eyes and a full, glossy head of hair. This rule will be implemented by January, 2016, which gives agents who no longer fit the bill a full year to find other work.

Full-Service Realtors Expand Horizons: Full service shops will really give discount brokers a run for their money in 2015. They will do so by offering a multitude of services that assist the prospective home buyer or seller. In addition to looking after your traditional real-estate needs, agents, depending on their speciality, will also offer feng shui, house cleaning, psychotherapy and home repair services. To get your business, others may throw in hair cuts for the whole family, dog walking and even violin playing. This may even prompt a trend in which clients begin picking realtors based on what they did in previous careers.

Just Cause it’s Cold Outside Doesn’t Mean a Deep Freeze for the Housing Market

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

We naturally understand that the holidays place a huge stress on our time given all the commitments the festive season creates. Yet we’ve always believed that real estate should carry on like usual though many consumers opt to put the brakes on the buying and selling of real estate during the holidays.

We’ve said it here before that those who continue shopping throughout the festive season are more inclined to realize a good buy as opposed to those who wait till winter’s thaw.

And it appears that our message is starting to get through.  According to a survey by Ipsos Reid, two-thirds of prospective home buyers in Ontario are planning to continue their search for the perfect home over the holidays. A majority of buyers feel that shopping for a home during the holiday season could mean less competition among potential buyers and, possibly, a better deal on the price of a desired home.

With the thought that potential sellers could be worried their home will sit on the market while prospective buyers are enjoying the holiday season with their families, a majority (55%) of likely buyers believe that sellers are more willing to negotiate on the price over the holidays, compared to two in ten (19%) who don’t believe sellers will be in a negotiating mood over the holidays.

If you’re a seller, less competition is a good thing for you. You are competing in a much smaller inventory over Christmas and New Year’s so that means more buyers’ eyes on your property. Ensure that your house is priced well and that your home is always ready for a viewing.

If you’re looking for a home over the holidays, you’re obviously very motivated.  Since time constraints from seasonal commitments and miserable cold weather make people want to hibernate, sellers need to be flexible about showings.

Festive decorations can make a home look merry and bright. Just don’t overdo it. Christmas lights are pretty but not in the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation way. When strangers traipse through your home they want to feel cheerful and comfortable so don’t assault them with stinky food smells, ugly décor and too much clutter. Bake gingerbread and light a fire to add to the warm and cozy feel.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid, a leading public opinion researcher, on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).


What to Avoid When Showing Your Home

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014


If you’re selling a home in Toronto, you’re lucky. A sale likely won’t take that long in today’s red-hot market so putting up with the inconvenience of having strangers parade through your bedroom shouldn’t last too terribly long.

There are ways to make the showing more productive for all involved. And remember what worked years ago, may be somewhat redundant today. For example, hanging around your house while a prospect is being shown through is not going to win you any prizes no matter how excellent the hor d’oeuvres and cabernet.

Curiosity can get the best of us, but you are best to corral up the residents in your home and head to the nearest coffee shop to wait out the viewing. Prospects never feel fully at ease knowing that the seller is lurking around the corner. They’re not as apt to express interest or apathy about a certain feature if they think you can overhear them and as a result they are likely to sweep quickly through your home without giving it the proper time and attention it deserves.

If you have to be home during a showing, be as inconspicuous as possible. If the weather is nicer, perhaps you can wait outside. No matter how winning the prospects are don’t follow them from room to room. Since house hunting is time consuming work, you don’t want to get engaged in drawn-out conversations about the pluses and minuses of the neighbourhood – that’s the realtor’s job.

In fact, if there are certain traits about your street – perhaps Peter Mansbridge lives three doors down – tell your realtor and he or she can pass on the info. Engaging in too much chit chat with a client is unwise as you could end up saying the wrong thing without even knowing it.

There are other rules to follow that will help you sell your house. When it comes to smells watch out. Yes, you can bake bread or muffins before a showing. This lends a homey atmosphere to your kitchen, but given the rash of allergies people suffer today you might want to do so with restraint. Plenty of people have gluten sensitivities and that could affect their olfactory glands, too. Freshening your home with deodorizers and other fragrances can also offend prospects that prefer a scent-free atmosphere. Try not to cook anything too terribly aromatic or spicy just before a showing.

If pet smells are an issue try to air out your space well before the scheduled showing. In addition, be sure to clean up after your pets by wiping the dog slobber off the screen door and emptying the kitty litter box. If you can, try to take your pets with you. Prospects don’t easily warm to your yappy cocker spaniel no matter how cute and cuddly.

Though time is tight try to tidy up. Make your beds as this always makes a room so much more inviting. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Hide them in your dishwasher and if you don’t have one, gather them into a bin and place them inside your oven – just don’t forget about them later.

Keep lights on both inside and outside your house as this lends a happy and welcoming vibe. Open your curtains and blinds unless, of course, your view is an eyesore. If you have a gas fireplace, light it. Play soft music.

All of these guidelines contribute to setting a mood in your house. The more welcoming and cheery, the quicker the sale. It’s as simple as that.


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.