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Why Condos Are a Good Investment

February 8th, 2018 by freemanrealty

You’ve been saving and a small nest egg has accumulated and now you’re wondering if the real
estate market is good place to invest your money.

The condo market is a good place to start. Not only have condos posted year-over- year gains,
making them an attractive investment opportunity, they are also likely the most affordable
piece of real estate money can buy in the GTA.

Purchasing a condo as an investment is a wise move now for a number of reasons. Vacancy
rates in Toronto are extremely low, somewhere below one per cent. As with any supply-
demand scenario this inevitably means renters will need to pay more and competition for
desirable rental space will be stiff. With rental prices on the higher side and a low supply of
rental space, tenants are reportedly engaging in bidding wars by offering landlords extra
months of rent up front just to secure a space.

It’s said that the majority of condo investors look to a formula of 25 per cent in and 75 per cent
rent coverage. What that means is if you invest 25 per cent into the price of your condo, the
rent you charge should cover your remaining costs, including property taxes, mortgage and
maintenance fees.

If you are buying a condo as an investment, try to buy in the very best location you can afford.
Make sure the condo is close to transit, multiple forms are even better, as many renters don’t
own vehicles.

There are plenty of advantages to condo living that you don’t always get in a single-family
home. Your access to community is virtually built-in given the closer quarters design of most
condos. Many possess an added level of security that is non-existent in other homes. And
finally, the condo lifestyle frees up your time for other pursuits as grass cutting, snow shovelling
and window washing are chores that are relegated to someone else to take care of.

Don’t ignore what amenities are in your condo simply because you won’t be living there.
Renters will pay attention to what your building offers and they want to benefit from some of
the amenities they enjoyed when living in a single-family home. Many condos feature patios,
pools and party rooms for entertaining larger groups. Barbecues are often available. And just
think what renters can save on their fitness club memberships once they start using the gym
provided by your condo.

Finally, pay attention to the cost of utilities as well, since your renters will want some idea of
these costs.

Why Selling in Winter is a Smart Move

January 8th, 2018 by freemanrealty

Just because your house in covered in snow and ice doesn’t mean you need to wait for spring to put it on the market.

In fact, some real estate experts believe the December-through-March months actually pay off when selling your home because at least one study by an online brokerage firm suggests that’s when sellers net more above asking and that’s also when houses move more quickly. The reason? Buyers trudging through frost and snow piled knee-high are motivated. They are looking at houses during the deep freeze because they have to. It’s as simple as that.

With fewer homes on the market in winter, your house could become a hot commodity, particularly if it’s in a desirable neighbourhood or if it has good bones and features today’s home buyers want.

Another big advantage to selling in winter is that the outdoor maintenance on your house is much reduced. With the exception of shoveling snow and keeping walkways clear and slip-free, you save time on the grass cutting and weed pulling typically done in spring and summer.

Be sure to keep pathways, stairs and driveways clear of snow and ice. Nothing is more off putting to a potential buyer than having to slip, slide and slog through ice and snow. If need be, make sure you scrape up the ice especially in areas where potential buyers might walk. Be sure to clear a path in snow banks and snow drifts that form due to shoveling and plowing. So whether they’re parking on your driveway or on the street try to clear an area so they can step out of their vehicle easily. You don’t want to annoy house hunters by forcing them to climb over a three-foot mound of snow.

It’s a good idea to warm up your home during viewings. While setting your thermostat above 20 degrees C might seem wasteful and not the most eco-friendly thing to do, keeping your space a degree or two warmer than usual is good practice for showings as buyers will enjoy the warmth and coziness of your home. If you have a fireplace, light it. That adds warmth and ambiance. Just be sure not to leave a wood fireplace unattended for too long.

Winter buyers will be especially on the watch for issues relating to heating so it’s a good idea to have your furnace and HVAC inspected. Be sure to change air filters and weather strip windows and doors. As heating costs will be on their minds, don’t leave signs around that your house is cold and drafty. For example, hide those piles of heavy blankets in your living room and tuck away that draft stopper you keep at the foot of your door.

Add a pop of colour to your home to compensate for the dull, gray days of winter. A seasonal wreath on your door or topiaries at your entrance can lend some excitement. Also ensure your windows are clean as the disappearance of summer foliage means your home is put under the glare of winter sunlight which shows every mark, fingerprint and scuff.

Sources: www.time.com, www.thebalance.com, www.realtor.com

Why Condos Are Having a Moment

January 8th, 2018 by freemanrealty

Condos often fit the bill where other housing is either too large, too expensive, too far from the action and often, for many, too much work.

That the Toronto condo market is having a moment right now makes sense. With an average selling price of just over $500,000, condos are a very affordable option for buyers seeking to own their own living space.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), approximately half of those hunting for a house in the city are comprised of first-time home buyers. It can be assumed then that these buyers are typically younger and, as such, possess less money and earnings to carry a single-family home in the million-dollar range. Condos are the perfect entry point to owning real estate in Toronto. As you pay off your mortgage, the value of your investment goes up, allowing you to eventually use your increased capital to buy a larger home or perhaps fund a vacation home or some other such comfort.

The average selling price for condos in the city was $510,206 in the third quarter of 2017, up by nearly 23 per cent compared to the average price of $415,894 that condos sold for during the same period a year earlier.

“The condominium apartment market segment has exhibited the strongest average rates of price growth since the spring, relative to other major market segments,” says TREB president Tim Syrianos. “Competition between buyers remains strong, as listings remain below last year’s very constrained levels.”

Syrianos also touched on the fact that the condominium apartment housing market is not protected from the ravages of a listings shortage. And this factor is also likely driving the condo market.

According to TREB, there were 5,684 condominium apartment sales reported through the MLS system in the third quarter of 2017. This was down from 7,991 sales reported during the same period in 2016.

New condominium apartment listings were also down on a year-over-year basis by 10 per cent to 9,845 in the third quarter of 2017 compared to 10,967 in 2016.

A consumer poll taken for TREB by Ipsos last spring indicated more interest in buying condos.

“Condominium apartments will likely account for a greater share of home sales as we move forward,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis. “With this in mind, it is not surprising that we have continued to see robust price growth, as demand has remained strong relative to available listings.”

As with any type of housing, there are issues with these vertical homes, but if you’re looking for a space that is centrally located, low-maintenance and affordable, condos can’t be beat.

See Freeman Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – Condos to learn more about our condo listings.

How Technology Helps Green Our Homes

January 3rd, 2018 by freemanrealty

There’s no doubt that when historians look back on this time it will be deemed the Age of Technology or some such name that indicates the era as a whirlwind of rapidly changing automation.

Perhaps nowhere is that revolution more evident than in our homes with how technology has served to make them warmer yet more eco-friendly. Let’s take a look at some of the tech advances that are helping green our homes:

Temperature-Controlled Living

Saving us money and time, but perhaps most importantly, saving our planet from environmental ruin are home automation systems that allow you to cool or warm your home remotely. What’s unique about smart thermostats is that technology allows you to be eco-smart so that you are not heating or cooling a space when you’re not there. Sync these thermostats with your iPhone so that your habits are remembered. Some tech companies allow you to use your smartphone to link your temperature controls with your lighting for added savings. Just think: no more fiddling with tricky timers or leaving lights on at all hours to fool people into thinking you’re home. With this technology, you can easily control the timer from anywhere with a simple click.

Tiny Bubbles

While laundering your clothes will never be a snap, there are smart washing machines now that don’t guzzle energy like their predecessors. Equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities, these machines also allow you to use your smartphone to detect any issues that crop up with your washer.

Ditch the Dryer

While that is much easier said than done, dryer chugs through an inordinate amount of energy that rivals your washer, dishwasher and refrigerator combined. Try using folding racks to hang and air dry your laundry or simply hang clothes such as shirts from hangers. Or consider hanging half your laundry and machine drying the other half. Just be sure to air dry the heavier items and let the lighter loads in the machine, which will cut down drying time.

Skip to the Loo

Dual-flush toilets are all the rage and with good reason. Instead of flushing away six gallons of water with each flush, dual-flush toilets only use up either.8 or 1.6 gallons. Let’s say a family of three each uses the toilet five times a day. If they are using an older style toilet then they are flushing nearly 100 gallons of water down the drain each and every day. Dual-flush toilets allow you to select the level of water required for each flush. Another great technological advancement is the toilet that uses gray water from your bath and shower in order to flush.

Eco Padding Your House

While spray polyurethane foam insulation is a workhorse of a product in terms of helping keep homes draft free and temperature controlled, environmentalists don’t look too kindly on it for its greening properties. Soybean-based spray foam is a good alternative as it does not contain the chemical (MDI or diphenyl diisocyanate) that causes off-gassing. Castor-oil based lcynene is also a good option. Cotton denim batting is a good green insulation, though it can be expensive to install and not nearly as easy as foam. Similarly, sheep’s wool is a good eco-friendly alternative, but like denim, it is not as easy to install.

Sources: Mother Earth News, Better Homes & Gardens, Organic 4 Greenlivings, Eco Building Pulse, Green High Five

Top 4 Green Gifts Types

December 26th, 2017 by freemanrealty

Are you at that point in your life where you think what more do I really need? Where it’s more about the giving than the receiving? Likely the same could be said for many of us.

During this season of giving, it’s a little awkward to show up empty handed. Besides, people enjoy showing their loved ones that they’re thought of and cared for in the form of physical gift. With that in mind and so you don’t come off as a Grinch this holiday season, why not consider some of the following suggestions for green gift giving:

Consumables 

These make a fabulous gift for the pragmatist on your list. Does he like movies or the ballet? Get him tickets for a show. Is she into fair-trade organic coffee? How about a gift certificate to her favourite gourmet java shop? The list can be quite endless with presents you consume: chocolate, a gift certificate for a pedicure, wine, a cooking class or a professional organizer for the unorganized person in your life.

Homemade Goodies 

No eye rolling allowed. Gifts made from own hands can be some of the most treasured. Are you an especially talented potter? Do you enjoy baking? How about knitting or jewelry making? A personal gift certificate entitling the bearer to breakfast in bed, a foot massage or a weekend bike ride is a highly individual gift. Your personal touch will earn high praise.

Recycled Gifts 

And no we don’t mean Aunt Sally’s doilies. Thankfully, the world is starting to catch on because the amount of recycled gifts you can acquire is quite amazing. Try Etsy or Uncommon Goods. That’s where you’ll find recycled wine glasses, wine bottles flattened into serving trays, clothes repurposed as bags, belts and wallets made out of fire hose and picture frames fashioned from tires.

Your Time 

When everyone is frantically trying to get 16 things done in a 30-minute window and never managing to clear their to-do list not even for a minute, you know time is of the essence. Why not offer some of yours? Your sister-in-law with the triplets might appreciate a break. Your uncle who is care giving for his ailing wife might, too.  Maybe even your teenager might appreciate a bit of downtime from school, jobs and social media. Let them know you’re there and willing to lend a helping hand.

 

Second Annual GREAT TURKEY GIVE

December 12th, 2017 by freemanrealty

Freeman Real Estate is reprising its community giving this holiday season with a charitable gift that is even bigger and better than last year’s.

The family-run boutique realtor is stepping up its contribution to the community this year on Sunday, December 17 with a GREAT TURKEY GIVE that will see some 9,000 pounds of turkey given to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

This is the second annual turkey giveaway for the Bathurst Street realtor, which launched the GIVE in 2016 as a way of giving back to the community and keeping the tradition of Ed Mirvish alive.

Freeman is located at 988 Bathurst Street, just four blocks north of the former Honest Ed’s store, which gave away free turkeys during the holidays for many years. Freeman is a company with a reputation for supporting community causes, charities and interests.

“For over 40 years, starting with my father, the Freeman family has been practicing real estate at this very location on Bathurst Street,” says Elden Freeman, Broker of Record. “The community we serve means a lot to us. Giving away turkeys is our way of saying thank you, engaging with those we serve and hopefully inspiring others to spread generosity and goodwill during the holiday season.”

Freeman has partnered with Bathurst Street organizations Spirit of Math, 918 Bathurst and A Nerd’s World for the giveaway. Spirit of Math is a leader in after-school mathematics education. Located in the Annex, 918 Bathurst is a centre for culture, arts, media and education. A Nerd’s World is a one-stop shop for all your online marketing needs.

The turkeys are completely free of charge and for each turkey given Freeman plans to donate to St. Alban’s Boys & Girls Club, an organization that offers programming for children and youth.

On hand to help give away the turkeys will be Toronto city councilors Mike Layton, Joe Mihevc, Joe Cressy and a number of other political figures and local celebrities.

The GIVE begins at 9 a.m. at Freeman Real Estate located at 988 Bathurst Street.

 

 

Move over Toronto, Vancouver has you beat

December 1st, 2017 by freemanrealty

When it comes to a city as great as Toronto it’s easy to have a little hubris. And with that, its inhabitants are sometimes accused of the short-sighted belief that the city is the centre of the universe.

And while on some level that may hold true, it doesn’t when it comes to house prices. In fact, a recent study by Century 21 Canada shows that seven out the country’s 10 most expensive neighbourhoods belong to our friends out west in and around Metro Vancouver.

Downtown Toronto made the number three spot on the list, while Oakville placed fifth and Richmond Hill, tenth. All the remaining seven spots belong to our friends in Vancouver.

The study measured price-per-square-foot (PPSF) for typical homes in cities and towns across Canada. Using information from Century 21’s independently owned and operated franchise offices, the study gathered information on house prices in the years 1997, 2006 and 2017.

Downtown Montreal ranked as the 12th most expensive neighbourhood, while Victoria was 18th, Saskatoon placed 31st, and Ottawa was 41st.

According to the study, Oakville leads the pack when it comes to escalating house prices, outstripping every other Canadian area. The price for a detached home in Oakville in 1997 was $105.77 PPSF. By this year, that number had ballooned to $627.33, a 493 per cent jump in 20 years. After Oakville, downtown Montreal is the community that claims the second fastest PPSF house growth with hikes in that city of 468 per cent over the same time period.

The data also showed that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were the only provinces to experience falling prices in the past decade. Windsor followed by Moncton and Halifax came in at the least expensive cities in which to buy.

A house in Vancouver’s west side is priced at $1210 PPSF. Downtown Vancouver has a PPSF of $962.75. Downtown Toronto comes in with $818.86 PPSF. West Vancouver is at $816.61 PPSF. And Oakville comes in at $627.33.

If you think Canada’s numbers are high, take a look at other countries. The average PPSF in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong is over $3500. This number is 3.5 times pricier than Beijing, which is deemed the second-most expensive city with a PPSF of just over $1000. Shanghai comes in third with $955.39.

Lowest price on the list?  Maricaibo-Zuila in Venezuela at an average PPSF of $10.17.

 

Pros & Cons of Owning versus Renting a Water Heater

November 7th, 2017 by freemanrealty

When making a significant purchase the decision to rent or to own can be an easy one. Own or rent your house? If you live in Canada, most people would say it’s better to own. How about a car? Again, many would say owning is the better option, unless, of course, you use your vehicle for work. You may want to lease it then.

In Ontario, most of us rent our water heaters, paying in the neighbourhood of $15 to $30 per month. According to Rob Engen of the Toronto Star, most Ontarians rent their water heaters, while most Albertans buy theirs. Why? It’s force of habit.

The top argument for buying your own water heater is that over time you end up paying less than if you rent yours indefinitely. Let’s say you spend $1600 to buy and install your own water heater. The average lifespan is about 15 years, so providing nothing goes wrong with the water heater, you are paying $8.88 per month to own that appliance.

According to Direct Energy, a water heater requires servicing every five years.  And parts and labour can escalate, costing several hundred dollars. But know what repairs and breakdowns to water heaters aren’t all that commonplace.

Even if your water heater leaks and creates damage to your home, rest assured that your house insurance policy will cover the repairs.

According to Hoerner Heating & Plumbing, the beauty of owning your own heater means you can make the switch to a tankless water heater, which thanks to its on-demand system, will save you money in energy costs. At $4000 to $45000, they are at least double the cost of conventional tanks, yet they are more efficient as they provide households with an infinite supply of hot water.

The other benefit is that a tankless heater has about double the lifespan of a conventional one. Finally, a tankless system means more space in your home as these heaters are tiny compared to the tank size of a standard hot water heater.

Companies that are in the business of renting water heaters naturally offer numerous arguments in their favour. They say the advantages range from a rental fee that is affordable, same-day service, no charge for parts and labour and peace of mind.

What you decide on will depend also on how long you plan to live in your home. If it’s only for a few years, renting your heater might be a better choice. If you intend to stay longer, you can finance the appliance so your payments are the same as a rental fee.  Either way, be sure to take the time to read rental plans and compare contracts. If you’re thinking of buying, talk to an experience plumber.

Sources: www.torontostar.com, www.hoerner.ca, www.yellowpages.ca

Fall TLC for Lawn and Gardens

October 23rd, 2017 by freemanrealty

October is here and besides giving thanks and paying tribute to our ghoulish side, the month’s changing leaves and falling temperatures are a steady reminder that winter is on its way.

So let’s consider how to give our lawns and gardens a last bit of TLC before the snow flies.

Hydration

As living organisms, we all need it. It’s important to give all of your plants and especially your trees, a good watering this month. Their roots will need lots of moisture in the coming months so make use of those rain barrels and start collecting water. Fall is also the perfect time to aerate your soil, which allows oxygen, water and fertilizer to get at the roots of your grass.

Put Roses to Bed

These garden beauties not only deserve but need some extra care. Clear debris and leaves from the base of the plant as not doing so can help harbour disease and create problems for the plant next year. To avoid damage due to freezing, pile soil or mulch on the plant base. Do the same for other shrubs and perennials that might suffer from freezing temperatures.

Trim Grass Lower

A lower cutting height makes leaf-raking much easier, inhibits diseases and helps dry out the soil more quickly in springtime.

Fertilize 

Fall is the best time of year to do this. But you want to make sure the product you use has minimal impact on the environment. Switch to lawn fertilizers that are high in slow-release nitrogen and ones that contain no phosphorus. Both are designed to give lawns nutrients as needed which reduces run-off that harms waterways.

Cover Bald Spots

The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mix sold at most home centres and garden spots. The ready-to-use mixture contains grass seed, fertilizer and organic mulch.

Feed the Birds

As food sources grow scarcer, don’t forget our feathered friends. Wild bird seed mixes, black or striped sunflower seed, peanuts and suet in balls or blocks are good choices. Also be sure to empty and clean your bird feeders and fill with fresh seed.

Divide & Conquer

Now is the time to dig up perennials that have grown too large for their space or to move plants that aren’t working where you originally placed them. While you’re at it, now is also the time to plant bulbs for colourful springtime displays.

Let the Air In

Don’t forget to winterize irrigation systems in an effort to prevent frozen pipe damage.

Are New Mortgage Rules Overkill?

October 15th, 2017 by freemanrealty

It’s about to get tougher to qualify for a mortgage thanks to new rules recently proposed by Canada’s federal banking regulator.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is taking aim at uninsured mortgages or those who have down payments of 20 per cent or more. The regulator wants to see stress tests for those borrowers similar to what is happening in the insured market.

That would mean buyers now need to qualify based on the highest posted five-year fixed rate, which is a rate of 4.64 per cent, about two per cent higher than the rate offered by most lenders.

Since buyers will have to qualify for a higher interest rate under this new proposal that means their purchasing power will diminish some estimate by as much as 20 per cent because they won’t be able to borrow as much as before.

But is extending tougher mortgage rules to all borrowers the right tact to take? Or is this another heavy-handed measure that will pop another air hole in the housing market and possibly flatten the wider economy?

This would definitely be a more controversial policy change than those made in the past, says Toronto mortgage broker David Larock. It impacts the borrowers with large down payments who don’t need mortgage default insurance, and that’s a large swath of the market. It’s starting to seem like our regulators are going to keep making changes until they put our real estate markets on their backs.

The new rule not only affects home buyers but also home owners looking to refinance.

About four out of five Canadian mortgages are conventional, uninsured loans with the big six banks holding 32 percentage points of that total. Credit unions have eight percentage points and six percentage points are held by small to medium-sized institutions, including mortgage investment corporations.

The proposal comes following a move by Ottawa last year to require that all insured mortgages undergo a stress test to establish if borrowers could make their payments in the event of such changes as a job loss or interest rate hike. The move is Ottawa’s response to the growing debt of Canadian households, the highest among G7 countries.

Expect the new rule to be in place by next spring at the latest.

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.