Looking At Semi-Detached Homes? You Might Want To Consider Row Houses As Well

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"Semi-detached is fine, but we're definitely not interested in houses that are attached on both sides."

I hear this from clients all the time, but I always try to get them to at least consider the potential of a row house before writing it off completely.

Some buyers are more open to the idea than others.

The objections are always the same though...

Aren't row houses narrower than semi-detached?

Not necessarily.

I've been in row houses that feel remarkably wide inside.

Clients of mine recently bought a row house in Leslieville, primarily because the main floor was so wide & spacious. We had already seen plenty of semi-detached homes in the area, and this row house was wider than any of them!

My clients were able to scoop it up relatively quickly and at a fair price, in part I think because it was a row house. It simply flew under the radar of the competition.

Aren't row houses darker on the inside, compared to semi-detached?

Not always.

Take a look at the floor plan below (paying attention to where the windows are), and keep in mind that this is a very common layout for semi-detached homes and homes that are attached on both sides.

Note that every room has a window, including the rooms that sit in the middle of the house (the dining room on the main floor, and the middle bedroom on the 2nd floor).

With this floor plan, regardless of whether the home is semi-detached or attached on both sides, the amount of light coming into the house is essentially the same.

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Like I said, some buyers are more open to the idea of a row house than others. I've had plenty of clients flat out refuse to look at them.

"I don't want to live with neighbours attached on both sides."

"The only access we'll have to the backyard is through the house."

Fair enough. To each their own, and these are all valid objections for some people.

If you can get past these "negatives" though, some row houses really do have a lot to offer.

And some row house actually outshine their semi-detached counterparts. Just ask my clients who bought in Leslieville...

If you're thinking of purchasing a semi-detached or row house, please contact us for more info.

Viewing Properties At Night? Be Sure To Take A Second Look During The Day

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When most people picture themselves shopping for a home they imagine doing so on the weekend, during the day.

After all, this is when the majority of open houses happen and it’s generally the easiest time for people to coordinate a couple of free hours.

In a busy city like Toronto however, realtors and buyers are out there pounding the pavement at all hours.

A lot of my buyer clients find it easiest to meet for viewings during the week, after work.

I’ve shown properties as late as 10:30pm on a weeknight.

Seeing properties during the evening isn’t much of an issue in the spring or summer when daylight stretches past 8:00pm.

In the winter though, when night falls as early as 5:00pm, evening viewings can pose some problems.

Natural light is a deal breaker for most buyers. A property that gets plenty of it is always going to outshine (pardon the pun) a property that doesn’t.

Knowing how much natural light a property gets (or doesn’t get) is such an important factor in assessing value that it’s foolish not to view the property during the day.

Before moving forward with an offer on a property that we’ve seen at night, I always advise my clients that we come back for a second look during the day.

Just because a home has windows doesn’t mean the sun’s going to pour in. I’ve seen plenty of houses, condos, and lofts that are dark and dreary on the inside, despite what the exterior might suggest.

And what about the view? Staring out the window of a 3rd floor condo into the dark doesn't give you peace-of-mind for what lays beyond.

What if the garbage bins are sitting directly under the balcony?

Worse still, what if there's a hole in the ground where a new condo will soon stand? (Of course, if your realtor is worth their salt they'll know about that new condo...).

I know that you're busy and evenings may be the only time you can squeeze in some viewings. Do yourself a favour though - take an extra long lunch the next day and go back for a second look.

It's only the largest purchase of your life.

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how we can help, contact us for more info.

What Happens When A Seller Mistakenly Lists Their One-Bedroom Condo As A Bachelor/Studio Instead?

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I remember going back-to-school shoe shopping one year as a kid. 

I had my heart set on a pair of red Adidas Sambas. 

With cash in hand, I biked to the mall and made a bee line for K-Mart’s sneaker section. 

But the Sambas were nowhere in sight.  

I searched high and low before approaching the cashier. 

After hunting around for awhile we finally tracked the shoes down – they’d been mistakenly placed in the women’s sandal section!

If I hadn’t gone out of my way and made the effort I would’ve had to settle for a lesser shoe (British Knights, anyone?). 

And the Sambas would’ve sat in the sandal section, unsold. 

Why did this happen? 

If you ask me, it boils down to one thing - poor marketing.

What does this story have to do with the Toronto real estate market? 

Last week, a one-bedroom condo popped up for sale on MLS. 

The suite has a lot going for it – it’s located in a great area (St Lawrence Market) and it’s in a highly sought after building. 

However, the listing has one major flaw...  the property is listed as having “0” bedrooms. 

That's right.  It's a one-bedroom condo that's actually listed as a bachelor/studio! 

Anyone who has searched for real estate online knows that “minimum bedrooms” is one of the key criteria to be entered. 

Naturally, anyone searching for a one-bedroom condo ticks "1" in the drop down box so that all bachelor suites are excluded from the results. 

Guess what?  None of these potential purchasers will see the listing for the above property!

Because of this careless marketing error, there are a number of important questions that the sellers will never know the answers to. 

Here are a few that immediately spring to mind:

  • How many potential buyers didn’t see this property when searching on Realtor.ca?

  • How many automated search programs failed to capture and deliver this listing to buyer clients?

  • How much more market exposure could this property have received if the listing was posted correctly?

  • How much more $$$ could it have sold it for?

The key takeaway here? Not all realtors are the same! 

Some are better than others (and if you’re considering going with a discount brokerage… you'll get what you pay for). 

Be sure to find out exactly what you'll be getting for your commission dollars and make an informed decision.

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how we can help, contact us for more info.

Who Actually Benefits From An Open House?

 
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There’s a misconception out there that open houses are not worth doing.

A lot of realtors think they're a waste of time. And a lot of sellers assume that the only people who come to open house are nosy neighbours and tire kickers.

Some people think that open houses do nothing more than benefit the listing agent, who uses them to try and capture new buyer leads.

In my opinion though, open houses are definiely worth doing and should be an important part of any home's marketing strategy.

In fact, an open house can potentially benefit all of the parties invloved in the buying/selling process.

How does the seller benefit?

The seller benefits from the added exposure the property gets. Open houses allow any number of potential buyers to view the property who were not able to book a private showing during the week. Yes, this includes nosy neighbors and tire kickers, but that's to be expected.

How does the buyer benefit?

The buyer benefits because it allows them added opportunities to get in to see the property. There are some buyers whose schedule does not allow them to book a showing with their realtor during the week, and open houses allow them a more relaxed time frame on the weekend to see the property.

Open houses are also great for buyers who have already seen the property with the realtor and want to come back for a second showing on the weekend. Perhaps bringing in family members, contractors, etc.

How does the buyer's realtor benefit?

The buyer's realtor benefits because it allows them to get their clients into the property if they are not available to show it themselves. Often times, buyers who are working with a realtor will still go out on their own and tour open houses on the weekends. They will then report back to their realtor if any of the houses are of interest and go from there.

How does the listing agent benefit?

The listing agent's most important job is to market the property and expose it to the highest number of potential buyers possible. Public open houses are an excellent way of doing this!

Yes, the listing agent might connect with some buyers at the open house who do not yet have a realtor (this is how I found the majority of my buyer clients when I first started in the industry). I'll be the first to admit that this side benefit no doubt strengthens a realtor's motivation to dedicate 3 - 4 hours of of their time on a Saturday or Sunday.

Still, the primary goal when a listing agent holds open houses is to expose the property and get it sold!

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how we can help, please contact us for more info.

Our Real Estate Fave Of The Week: 39 Bishop St

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Chic designer townhouse on Cul de Sac in Yorkville!

This stunning 2 bedroom townhouse has 3 bathrooms and has been renovated from top to bottom. Walk out from sliding glass doors to your beautiful patio oasis to entertain... or take a short stroll to be entertained!

What are our favourite features? 

The freestanding soaker tub is pure luxury. And with the traffic in Toronto these days, having a short walk to literally everything you need doesn’t hurt!

More Features:

  • Modern kitchen with island range hood

  • Wide plank oak hardwood flooring

  • Floating staircase

  • Heated basement & bathroom floors

  • Walk-in closet in master bedroom

  • Beautiful light fixtures & window coverings

Price: $1,700,000

Taxes: $5,256.11/2017

Lot Size: 15.9 x 60 feet

Would you like a private tour of this home?  Give us a shout and we’ll make it happen!

Take a gander at all these gorgeous pics:

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Listing Brokerage: Forest Hill Real Estate Inc.

Our Real Estate Fave Of The Week: 82 Hertle Ave

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Nestled in between cool Lesliville and the beautiful Beaches!

This semi-detached, 2-storey home has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It's been opened-up into a modern open concept layout, with a good size lot (23 X 122 feet) and plenty of room to grow in the future.

What are our favourite features?

The gorgeous Ella quartz kitchen island and the finished basement (complete with modern bathroom!) which adds 500 sq ft of extra usable space to the home.

More Features:

  • Open concept main floor w/ pot lights

  • Gorgeous hardwood flooring throughout

  • Renovated kitchen with stainless steel appliances

  • Wide, large porch with plenty of room to lounge

  • Room for 2 car parking

Price: $1,049,000

Taxes: $3,701.97/2017

Lot Size: 23.08 x 122 feet

Would you like a private tour of this home?  Give us a shout and we’ll make it happen!

Take a gander at all these gorgeous pics:

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Listing Brokerage: Real Estate Homeward, Brokerage

Auberge On The Park Condos

 
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Auberge On The Park Condos

Surrounded by indulgent views of lush greenery, city skyline and Sunnybrook Park, Auberge offers condominium luxury in nature. Coming soon to coveted Leslie and Eglinton.

Features of this Project:

  • 3 luxury towers, built by long-trusted & award winning builder, Tridel

  • Phase 1 will be 45 storeys

  • An opportunity to enter into the prestigious Eglinton & Leslie neighbourhood, with its excellent schools and amenities

  • Family friendly layouts, which go up to just over 2000 sq ft

  • No micro units (thoughtful design throughout all 3 towers)

  • Condos, lofts and townhouses - all available to suit individual needs and tastes

  • Less than a 5 minute walk to the future 2021 Eglinton Crosstown LRT station, which will connect to 25 stations

  • Easy access to the Don Valley Parkway, Bayview extension, the 404 and the TTC

  • Walking distance to a network of large parklands, including Sunnybrook Park

Breakdown of unit sizes:

  • 1 bedroom from 538 sq ft to 645 sq ft

  • 1 bedroom plus den from 592 sq ft to 719 sq ft

  • 2 bedroom from 890 sq ft to 1,352 sq ft

  • Signature suites from 1,550 sq ft to 2,070 sq ft

  • Terraces from 1,333 sq ft to 2,079 sq ft

  • 2 storey suites from 1,300 sq ft to 1,930 sq ft

View more images & renderings below!

Get Floor Plans & Pricing:

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Our Real Estate Fave Of The Week: 294 Euclid Ave

 
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Tantalizing Turnkey in Trinity Bellwoods!

This semi-detached, 2-storey home is on a wide 20 X 129 ft lot and has 3 + 1 bedrooms, 3 baths, PLUS a detached 2 car garage.

What are our favourite features?

The large, spa like master bathroom (dig those skylights!). The backyard is seriously green, and how much stuff could you store in that huge garage!?

More Features:

  • Open concept main floor with fireplace, powder room, and built-in sound system

  • Beautiful french doors that open up onto the backyard

  • White and bright large main floor (889 sq ft) with skylights, windows, and pot lights throughout

  • 2nd floor laundry

  • Great Location

Price: $1,399,000

Taxes: $6,178.12/2017

Lot Size: 20 x 129 feet

Would you like a private tour of this home? Give us a shout and we’ll make it happen!

Take a gander at all these gorgeous pics:

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Listing Brokerage: Blue Elephant Realty Inc., Brokerage

Our Real Estate Fave Of The Week: 165 Glendale Ave

Welcome to the leafy green streets of beautiful Roncesvalles!

This semi-detached, 3-storey home is renovated top-to-bottom and has 4 + 1 bedrooms & 4 bathrooms.

What’s our favourite feature?

The 3rd floor master suite (seriously, take a look at the pics below). It’s got a 5-piece ensuite (with freestanding tub!), a huge walk-in closet, and walk-out to a private rooftop patio.

More Features:

  • Open concept main floor w/ motion sensor pot lights
  • Gorgeous hardwood flooring throughout
  • Kitchen w/ unique granite “fusion” waterfall island and stainless steel appliances
  • Built-in closets in every bedroom
  • 6 skylights
  • 2nd floor laundry
  • Basement apartment w/ private entrance

Price: $1,790,000

Taxes: $5,056.60/2016

Lot Size: 19.58 x 120 feet

Would you like a private tour of this home?  Give us a shout and we’ll make it happen!

Take a gander at all these gorgeous pics:

 

 

Listing Brokerage: Right At Home Realty Inc., Brokerage

Multiple-Offers Are Still Very Much A Part Of The Toronto Real Estate Landscape

Multiple-Offers Are Still Very Much A Part Of The Toronto Real Estate Landscape Photo

Multiple-Offers Are Still Very Much A Part Of The Toronto Real Estate Landscape Photo

We're in the 2nd week of the fall real estate market now, and anyone who's been following along knows that in the past 4.5 months (ever since the Liberals announced their "16-Point Fair Housing Plan16-Point Fair Housing Plan" in April) we've seen a decline in the number of sales and, perhaps more notably, a decline in average sale prices.

Q:  Do these declines mean that there's now room for price negotiation on every single property that comes on the market? A:  Nope.

In fact... plenty of houses are selling for 100% of the list price. And an even larger number of houses are selling for more than the list price!

Despite all the talk of a "buyer's market", there are still plenty of buyers out there willing to pay full price for the right property, or even compete with other buyers and pay more than the list price if need be.

Let's take a look at all sales in the first 10 days of September for some insight (we'll go as far west as the Humber River, as far east as Victoria Park, and as far north as the 401):

Houses

  • 83 sales total

  • 58 sales at less than the list price

  • 10 sales at 100% of the list price

  • 15 sales at more than the list price (the highest being 119% of the list price)

Condos

  • 162 sales total

  • 77 sales at less than the list price

  • 37 sales at 100% of list price

  • 48 sales at more than the list price (the highest being 117% of the list price)

Percentage-wise, this breaks down as follows:

Houses

  • 70% of houses sold for less than the list price

  • 12% of houses sold for 100% of the list price

  • 18% of houses sold for more than the list price

Condos

  • 47.5% of condos sold for less than the list price

  • 23% of condos sold for 100% of the list price

  • 29.5% of condos sold for more than the list price

While these numbers don't reach the heights that we saw in January - April 2017 (in March, for example, there were a total of 2,145 combined house & condo sales - 73% of which sold for more than the list price), they do show us that buyers aren't being scared out of moving forward with their home searches. If a property warrants it, buyers will make agressive offers and fight for what they want.

Let's see what the rest of the month brings...

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

Buy In The Summer And Then Sell In The Fall?

Buy In The Summer And Then Sell In The Fall? Photo

Buy In The Summer And Then Sell In The Fall? Photo

"Should I stay or should I go?"

The classic 1982 Clash song (which I fondly remember being a highlight on the dancefloor at the Dance Cave, circa '99-'01) is a fitting soundtrack for anyone considering a move in the current Toronto real estate market.

While buying is nowhere near as stressful as it was in the first four months of the year, selling is a different story. We're in a transitioning market now and selling your home isn't as simple a process these days.

This change in the market has many buyers and sellers confused about how to proceed.

I've got a number of clients right now who are hesitantly contemplating a "move-up" purchase into something larger than their current space.

While they're tickled by the fact that they aren't shopping for a home in the same feeding-frenzy market we saw in January - April, the prospect of having to sell their home in this more relaxed market has them second-guessing whether or not now is the right time to make a move.

While their hesitation is certainly warranted, I don't think anyone should be totally writting-off the possibilty of a move in this current market.

Keep in mind, shopping for a home in the fall might not be the relaxed affair it is right now. Although no one can predict exactly what's going to happen in the fall, we need to consider the possibilty that market activity will pick-up again and we'll all be looking back at May/June/July/August as a four-month blip.

A few possibilties to consider when looking at how the market might be spurred towards greater activity in September:

  1. With today's interest rate increase by the Bank of Canada (I'm writing this blog post on July 12th, the same day that the Bank of Canada has announced their first rate increase in 7 years), there are going to be buyers out there motivated to make a purchase before their current pre-approval rate-hold expires in 90-120 days.

  2. After "taking the summer off" from their home search, buyers who've been sitting on the sidelines since the Liberals announced their 16-Point Fair Housing Plan in April will simply decide to get off the fence and take the plunge.

If the market does start to warm-up again in September we could all be looking back saying, "those who bought in the summer and then sold in the fall did very well for themselves...".

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

Point-By-Point: Ontario's Fair Housing Plan

Ontario's Fair Housing Plan: Point-By-Point Photo

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Today, Premier Kathleen Wynne finally announced changes to real estate in Ontario in an attempt to increase supply and address affordability.

No doubt, there's going to be some confusion about the effects of the changes. Keep in mind though, the fundamentals of a healthy market have not changed.

Take a look at the plan below, point-by-point. If you've got any questions just give me a shout.

There are 16 proposed measures:

  1. A 15-per-cent non-resident speculation tax to be imposed on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.

  2. Expanded rent control that will apply to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991, which are currently excluded.

  3. Updates to the Residential Tenancies Act to include a standard lease agreement, tighter provisions for “landlord’s own use” evictions, and technical changes to the Landlord-Tenant Board meant to make the process fairer, as well as other changes.

  4. A program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market-price housing and affordable housing.

  5. Legislation that would allow Toronto and possibly other municipalities to introduce a vacant homes property tax in an effort to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out.

  6. A plan to ensure property tax for new apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties.

  7. A five-year, $125-million program aimed at encouraging the construction of new rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges.

  8. More flexibility for municipalities when it comes to using property tax tools to encourage development.

  9. The creation of a new Housing Supply Team with dedicated provincial employees to identify barriers to specific housing development projects and work with developers and municipalities to find solutions.

  10. An effort to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.

  11. A review of the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions.

  12. The launch of a housing advisory group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures and any additional steps that are needed.

  13. Education for consumers on their rights, particularly on the issue of one real estate professional representing more than one party in a real estate transaction.

  14. A partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales of real estate in Ontario.

  15. Set timelines for elevator repairs to be established in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority.

  16. Provisions that would require municipalities to consider the appropriate range of unit sizes in higher density residential buildings to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes, among other things.

 

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

 

Deposit Cheque: Don't Show Up Empty-Handed!

Deposit Cheque: Don't Show Up Empty-Handed! Photo

Deposit Cheque: Don't Show Up Empty-Handed! Photo

Early in my real estate career, I was working with a young couple looking to purchase a loft in the city's west end.

Back then, just like now, most properties were receiving multiple offers and selling for above the asking price.

And just like now, listing agents were requesting that all potential buyers show up on the offer date with a certified deposit cheque in hand.

I don't recall the specifics now, but on the first offer we did together those clients of mine were not able to obtain a deposit cheque prior to submitting the offer.

Of the five offers that were submitted that night, my clients had the highest price.

The property should've been theirs...

The sellers ended up working with the second highest offer though, because we didn't have that damn deposit cheque in hand.

Needless to say, those clients never submitted another offer without being sure to have the certified deposit cheque ahead of time.

Fast forward to 2017, and just the other night I saw the same thing happen again (thankfully, it wasn't my clients who made the mistake this time).

A condo in the east-end received 20 offers and sold for $710,000. The highest offer was actually $730,000... but those buyers did not have a certified deposit cheque in hand.

Imagine the disappointment there - being the highest of 20 offers and still not getting the property!

There's almost 10 years distance between those two stories, but the lesson is the same for each: show up on offer night empty-handed, and you might go home empty-handed too.

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

It Sold For HOW Much? WTF!

I’ve been a realtor for over 10 years now, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen as many WTF sale prices as I saw last week.

It’s not unusual for a house to sell for stupid money in this city (it is Toronto after all), but last week was notable because it happened so many times!

All over the city, almost every day, houses and condos were selling for unprecedented figures.

“Unprecedented” is the key word here, but I’m not sure it really does justice to what we saw last week.

A few examples…

Sale #1: A condo townhouse in the east-end

  • 1,100 sq ft
  • 2-bed / 2-bath
  • Parking

The last few comparable sales happened back in the summer, and sold for around $580,000. This new listing was priced at $589,000 and sold on offer-night… for $840,000!

Sale #2: A freehold home in the Don Mills area

  • 1,500 sq ft
  • 3-bed / 3-bath
  • Detached 2-storey

The listing agent and seller priced it low ($1,188,000), thinking that it might sell for somewhere in the $1,500,000 - $1,600,000 range. It sold on offer-night (with 31 offers) for… $2,303,000! Read more about this sale in the Toronto Star here.

Sale #3: A one-bedroom condo in the downtown core

  • 600 sq ft
  • 1-bed / 1-bath
  • No parking

A nearly identical unit sold in this building in the spring, for around $390,000. This new listing was priced at $435,000 and sold on offer-night… for $505,000!

It’s Sunday night as I write this, and I’m wondering what tomorrow and the rest of the week will bring. It can’t be as crazy as last week, can it? We’ll see…

 

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

Is It A Bad Idea To List Immediately After Labour Day?

Is It A Bad Idea To List Immediately After Labour Day? Photo

Is It A Bad Idea To List Immediately After Labour Day? Photo

Summer doesn’t officially end until the Autumnal Equinox in the 3rd week of September, but we all know it really ends the day after Labour Day.

Every year, the Tuesday after Labour Day sees the kids go back to school, the white clothes go back into the closet, and the real estate market come back to life after the August slow-down.

A whole slew of new listings hit the market during that first week after Labour Day, and plenty of eager sellers (and realtors) are excited to get the ball rolling.

In my opinion though, it’s a good idea to consider waiting until the following week to list your home for sale.

The goal is to expose the property to as many buyers as possible, but a good chunk of the buyer pool is distracted at this time of year.

There’s so much happening in people’s lives during that first week after Labour Day, that there’s a good chance many of the new listings are going to slip-by unnoticed.

  • People are busy getting back into the swing of things at work.

  • Anyone working in a seasonal industry is likely focused on transitioning over to their fall market.

  • People are coping with the fact that summer’s over and the cold & rainy weather is just around the corner (ugh).

  • And then of course there are the families that have small children…

I know that my wife & I are going to be preoccupied these next few days with starting our oldest daughter in JK. If we were searching for a home right now we’d almost certainly be taking a week off from our search to concentrate on the start of school.

I myself have a new listing coming out soon, and we’re waiting until that 2nd week after Labour Day to go to market. My clients are fully onboard with the idea that we’ll reach the maximum number of potential buyers if we wait that extra week.

That’s not to say that a seller won’t still do well if they list right after Labour Day. And not every seller is even going to have the option of waiting until mid-September to list.

If you really want to maximize your odds of success though, you do need to consider all of the angles and strategize accordingly.

So, while it might not necessarily be a bad idea to list immediatley after Labour day, it might be a good idea to hang back and wait a week.

Here’s to a kick-ass fall market!

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

Understanding Your 2016 Property Assessment Notice From MPAC

Understanding Your 2016 Property Value Assessment From MPAC Photo Back in April, MPAC started mailing out their 2016 property assessment notices to property owners across the province of Ontario. If you don’t have yours yet - keep checking the mail; they should all be out by the fall.

I’ve spoken to a number of clients recently about their assessments, and most are asking the same two questions:

  1. The assessed value is significantly less than what we know our property is worth. Is this normal?
  2. The assessed value has increased since the previous assessment. Does the municipality increase my property taxes by the same rate?

These are both excellent questions! Below are my answers.

The market value of your property is very likely going to be higher than MPAC’s assessed value.

While some assessments in the City of Toronto do come-in fairly close to market value, MPAC’s numbers are usually quite a bit lower than what the property would sell for on the open market. Sometimes the difference is quite significant!

It’s not uncommon to see MPAC’s assessed value be hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars less than the current market value (depending of course on price point, location, etc.).

MPAC relies on a number of factors when doing their assessments, but apparently recent comparable sale prices don’t weigh heavily in the process!

Just because MPAC’s assessed value of your property has increased doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pay more in property taxes.

In the City of Toronto, your property taxes should only increase if the value of your property has increased at a greater rate than the City average (unless of course the City has increased taxes as part of its budget requirements…).

Here’s a quote from the the FAQ section of the City’s property tax website:

  • Reassessment at the municipal level, is "revenue neutral" and does not generate any additional revenue for the City. With a reassessment, the City must adjust the tax rate to remain revenue neutral, so no new funding comes to the City of Toronto as a result of property valuation changes.
  • If your property value increases at a rate less than the City average, your property tax may decrease due to the reassessment.
  • If your property value increases at a rate more than the City average, your property tax will increase due to reassessment.
  • The City may need to increase taxes due to its budget requirements, however, this is separate and not related to reassessments.

Do you have any further questions about your assessment?

Maybe MPAC’s valuation actually seems too high to you, and you’re wondering if there’s cause to fight it? Give me a shout and I’ll be happy to provide you with the recent sales in your area. Who knows, you might be able to make a case…

 

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

Liberty Village, Givins/Shaw, And A Lesson In School Catchment Changes

Liberty Village, Givins/Shaw, And A Lesson In School Catchments Photo  

How would you feel if you purchased a home in a particular neighbourhood specifically because of the school catchment, only to find later that your child would actually be going to a different (arguably less desirable) school?

That's basically what's happened to a bunch of young families who live in Liberty Village.

Up until April of this year it was understood that Liberty Village was part of the Givins/Shaw catchment.

About halfway through the month though, a letter went out informing everyone of a proposed redistricting. My family got the notice because we live in the catchment (my oldest daughter is starting kindergarten at Givins/Shaw in September, and her younger sister will be following suit in another couple of years).

The letter contained a poorly detailed map showing where the new boundaries would be; the map was vague and had a lot of people unsure of whether or not they’d be affected.

None of us got any real answers until the public meeting that was held a couple of weeks later in early May.

I was at that meeting, and what it all boils down to is this:

Givins/Shaw school is over capacity now and will certainly be unable to accommodate all of the students that are entering the system over the next bunch of years. The school board took a look at the neighbouring schools, and saw that the Queen Victoria school in Parkdale was well under capacity. So, it made sense for them to propose a rejigging of the catchment boundaries and send a chunk of the population over to Queen Victoria. Liberty Village will make up the bulk of that chunk.

Are parents in Liberty Village upset with this news? Without a doubt.

A bunch of Liberty Village parents were there at the meeting in May to voice their opinions about the proposed redistricting and about how all of this has been handled.

We heard from one father who's now going to have two sons in different schools at the same time. The logistics of dropping off and picking up his boys is going to be a daily hassle, and it’s going to significantly alter their after-school routine (which currently consists of quality-time spent in the Givins/Shaw area).

We heard from another parent who said their home search was based primarily around buying into the Givins/Shaw catchment. If they had known that the catchment was going to change, they never would've bought in Liberty Village.

From my perspective as a realtor, it's this last point that interests me most.

School catchment is usually at the top of the list of must-haves & deal-breakers when a young family shops for a new home. It’s certainly a big part of my focus when I’m working with buyers who fit into this category.

And while I’ve seen catchments get tweaked in the past (some clients of mine got a helluva deal in Roncesvalles last year, partially because of this catchment change), it’s rare to see an entire neighbourhood get redistricted the way that Liberty Village is going to be.

“Shouldn’t residents in Liberty Village have seen this coming?” I’ve heard some people say. “How can you realistically think that there wouldn’t eventually be some sort of change in such a quickly-developing area?”

Fair enough. But I think the fact that the parents weren’t notified of anything beforehand is one of the hardest things to swallow here.

And I think a number of parents assumed that other measures would’ve been taken.

A few alternative solutions were brought up by parents at the meeting: Why not build a new school in (or near) Liberty Village? What not rent space from the Artscape building on Shaw St? Why not take over the Señor Santos Catholic School at Ossington and Osler? Why not build an additional storey onto the current Givins/Shaw building? Why not consider adding portables at Givins/Shaw?

Many parents wondered why the TDSB didn’t start planning for all of this sooner; didn’t they see that the demographics in Liberty Village showed an increasing number of families?

The TDSB’s answer to this last question was simple: “We didn’t anticipate that families would be living in condos.”

Honestly, I think a lot of people didn’t anticipate it either. With the prices of freehold homes at such a high though, condo-living has become a much more viable option for many.

And the numbers are there to prove it.

While Liberty Village is home to plenty of young professionals (singles and couples), there’s no denying that families also make up a significant part of the population. Just take a look a this Toronto Star article from January 2016.

As it stands now, the board is reviewing the proposed redistricting and taking into account the feedback that was provided by parents at the meeting in May. We should have an update in the next couple of weeks about how the changes will be implemented.

It's important to note that not all children in Liberty Village will be going to Queen Victoria; the proposal outlines a set of criteria where certain children will be attending Givins/Shaw.  You can read the latest news about the proposal/review on the TDSB website here.

Regardless of the specifics, the catchment boundaries are changing in September 2017 and Liberty Village is going to be affected by the change more than anyone.

Going forward, this will hopefully serve as an example (to school boards, housing developers, and parents alike) that rapidly growing neighbourhoods/areas are subject to change, and plans need to be set in place for how to handle a growing school population. Other areas in the city have already done this, so there is certainly a precedent.

 

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

 

What A Difference A Season Makes

What A Difference A Season Makes Photo More than once over the course of these past few months, I've seen a house come on the market and sell for significantly more than what it was unsuccessfully listed at back in the fall/winter.

You could argue that this makes sense - that in a rising market a house should sell for more now than it would’ve 6 months ago.

Maybe, maybe not. (More on that towards the end of this blog post).

Regardless, it’s interesting to see such a scenario play out in real time with one specific property.

Here’s a breakdown of what happened with one of the houses I’m referring to:

House is listed in June 2015

Located in a very hot area in the west-end of the city.

Priced at $679,000, with a hold-back on offers.

Offer night comes and goes, and the property doesn’t sell.

They re-list the following day at $719,000, with offers welcome anytime.

After 3 more weeks without selling, they take it off the market.

Same house is re-listed in February 2016

7 months after unsuccessfully trying to sell, they’re back on the market.

Priced again at $719,000, with offers welcome anytime.

In less than 24hrs they receive 3 competing offers and the house sells for $755,000 (105% of list price).

No one wanted the house back in the summer, but by winter’s end there were three buyers tripping over each other to pay well above the asking price.

Wow! What a difference a season (or two) makes.

Does this necessarily mean that the same scenario would play out for every single house listed for sale in the Toronto real estate market right now? Is every single seller out there guaranteed to sell for significantly more if they just wait another 6 months?

Not necessarily. I’m sure there are sellers out there who did better 6 months ago than they would today, for a number of reasons; maybe they were competing with fewer similar listings than they would be today, maybe there were more buyers in the market that week for their particular house than there would be this week, etc.

On the whole though, prices are increasing and you’ll very likely pay more for a house 6 months from now. Just ask the three buyers who bid on the house in my example above.

 

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

Did There Really Need To Be 15 Offers?

Did There Really Need To Be 15 Offers? Photo

Did There Really Need To Be 15 Offers? Photo

I was involved in a multiple-offer scenario last week, on a condo townhouse in the east end.

The property had a helluva view, and there was no doubt that it was going to attract plenty of interest and receive a bunch of offers.

“A bunch” ended up being an understatement.

There were 15 offers. FIFTEEN!

The property sold for 125% of the list price (it was listed at $409,000 and sold for $510,000).

With so many offers and such a high sale-to-list price ratio, you have to ask yourself, “Did they really need to under-list the property by that much?”

Couldn’t they have listed at, say, $449,000 (which would still be “underpricing” the property, albeit less drastically)?

While there was obviously one very happy “winner” on offer night, there were 14 other buyers that went home empty handed.

No doubt, some of those buyers went in offering less than $449,000. And despite submitting what they (and/or their realtor) thought was a reasonable offer, they never actually had a chance.

Couldn’t the sellers have been a bit less extreme in their pricing, and perhaps spared a handful of those hopeful buyers on offer night? Wouldn’t they still have ended up with a $510,000 sale price?

Truth be told, there’s no way to know for sure if they would’ve ended up at the same sale price (although I think they would have). Sure, it’s possible that the top offer wouldn’t have come in as high had there only been 7 or 8 offers (unlikely I think, but possible).

On a funny side note, the listing agent had made a point of saying that he felt that there was no need to put anyone through the hassle of going to get a certified cheque ahead of offer night, as it would only add undo stress and waste too many people’s time.

Okay…

But he felt it was reasonable to under-list the property by $75,000 - $100,000? He didn’t think that would result in wasting a bunch of people’s time? Ha!

Granted, the listing agent did a great job for his clients. He orchestrated a process that got them a record-high price for their property.

It’s a frustrating process though, when one happy seller and one happy buyer have to leave 14 other disappointed parties in their wake.

If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.

Who Lists Their Home For Sale In Mid-December?

Who Lists Their Home For Sale In Mid-December? Photo

Who Lists Their Home For Sale In Mid-December? Photo

Who lists their home for sale in mid-December?

People who have to sell, that’s who.

Otherwise they’d wait until the 2nd week in January, which is when the spring market starts and an influx of buyers begin (or resume) their hunt.

Sure, there are still some buyers out there looking in the middle of December. Not many though. And the ones that are looking are likely doing so half-assed, as they’re distracted with holiday obligations, etc.

Sellers in the Toronto real estate market don’t always have a choice though, when it comes to timing the sale of their home. Sometimes, listing in mid-December is their only option.

For example, let’s say you make a purchase at the end of November, with a 60 day closing. The good news here is that you go into the holiday season knowing that you’ve bought a house, and the stress of searching for a home is off your plate. But now you’ve got a home to sell, just as the market is about to slow down!

Some of you are thinking, “Well, don’t buy a home at the end of November then! Make your purchase in September or October instead.”

The reality is that buying a home in the Toronto real estate market can be tough; there’s a tonne of competition when it comes to good houses and if an opportunity presents itself you have to jump on it, whether or not it’s actually the best time of year to make a move.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.

If you have a great house in a great neighbourhood, and you’re able to get your act together quickly enough to list within that first week of December, then you’re likely going to be okay.

You might actually benefit from the fact that there won’t be many other listings to compete with, and you’ll appeal to those buyers who are seriously looking to lock down a purchase before the holiday season starts.

When To Wait

If it’s going to take a couple of weeks of prep time to get your home ready, then you need to consider putting off listing until the new year.

Or if you’ve got the kind of property that might take a little longer to sell (it ain’t the purdiest house on the block, and/or it’s in a less-than-desirable neighbourhood), you might want to avoid sitting on the market during the holiday season. A house like this is going to look staler than last year’s fruit cake by the time mid-January rolls around (zing!).

Not everyone has the stress tolerance to wait though.

Going back to the example above, if the home you purchased is closing on February 1st, then waiting until the new year to list only allows you a couple of weeks to get yourself a firm sale (this is assuming that bridge financing is going to be an option). A tight deadline like this is too stressful for some sellers, and they decide to swallow the risks of listing in mid-December.

Either way, there are pros and cons to each option that a seller has to accept.

My advice is to work with a realtor who has guided clients through this process before. You need someone in your corner who has a handle on all the angles, especially at a time of year when there's so much else to stress about!

Happy Holidays!

If you're thinking of selling your home, and you want an agent who knows when the best time to list is, feel free to contact me for more info.