Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Roncesvalles Village Road Reconstruction

The Roncesvalles Village street reconstruction is going ahead starting in August '09

While attending the Roncesvalles MacDonell Residents' Association meeting last night, at Fern Public School, the audience was presented with an articulate powerpoint slide show about the reconstruction plans for the main street, Queen to Dundas, that will improve the streetcar tracks, address watermain issues and at the same time with input from the local BIA and residents association deal with beautification.

This is a constantly improving neighbourhood with a strong voice in municipal planning. Issues on the table are the widening of sidewalks to make space for cafe style merchants, pedestrian bump outs ( sidewalks that encroach the roadway) and the greening of the street with new plantings of trees on the west side of the boulevard (where homes are predominantly residential). The elimination of the tree planting boxes will assist the tree's lifespan, enhance sidewalk space and provide storm water run off catchment basins to assist water drainage. All in all, a very detailed and sensible plan of improvements while other work is the cause of the change. They are also addressing traffic flow, bicycle access and snow collection.

As an aside I was thinking about why there is development on the east side of Roncesvalles and not the west. The same applies to the Bloor west Village strip where commercial properties dominate the North side and not the south. Simply SUNSHINE. The stores and business' with premium loctions had the afternoon sun to assist their merchant activities. Out for a promenade with the pram? You would prefer the sunny side of the street.

The extension of the boulevard (bump outs) also addressed concerns about pedestrian traffic and the location of Copernicus Lodge (retirement home) and the elders skooting across a busy thoroughfare. The bump outs make the distance much shorter. There are already some curb planted bum outs that exist at Fermanagh and Roncesvalles (Royal Bank) and at the Wright Avenue and Roncesvalles (CIBC).

Another project now nearing completion is the Wabash ParkCommunity Recreation Centre that is opening now and is accepting bookings starting January '09.

The Roncesvalles-MacDonell Residents Association was formed in 1973 and meets monthly from August to May, on the last Tuesday of the month.

If you would like to live in Bloor west Village or Roncesvalles Village to enjoy the sense of community and local vibrance, I invite you to contact me regarding finding you, your home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FSBO sites and embellished claims

I wish I could afford to buy a PUFF piece like this in the Financial Post. Maybe the author; Derek Sankey, Financial Post has a dog in the race. Read the advertorial is trying to exploit an overlooked niche in real estate sales -- private home sales -- but with a twist. The firm acts as the marketing arm for people who want to handle the heavy lifting themselves, such as showing the home, fielding calls from potential buyers, negotiating price and other details.

Every FSBO website advocates the benefits of advertising with them as the biggest, highest hits, newest, website. You pay them to advertise your house on a website. They sell you a sign and a webpage from $300 to $ 1500.00 The blank forms you can buy at Chapters for $29.95 but the forms have a disclaimer that a lawyer should be consulted to properly create the offers.

FSBO websites are now co operating to trade content (advertising each others listings) to attract additional viewers and justify additional advertising revenue. So.. I took a quick look at the west side of Toronto and scanned 100 listings, (Toronto Real Estate board has thousands) Some were sold on the MLS. There are no dates, no way to query new or old. Most were listed also on the MLS. Yet when the homes sell the FSBO sites claim them as THEIR sales.

Realtors are paid based on performance at successful transaction completion, and if they didn't search title sometimes not at all.

This article states that 50% of the real estate business will be internet based and not require a realtor but they will provide property details for purchasers, negotiate on your behalf and other details. "The firm acts as the marketing arm for people who want to handle the heavy lifting themselves, such as showing the home, fielding calls from potential buyers, negotiating price and other details."

That is called trading in real estate. Colour the issue how you wish, as soon as they offer any advice they are trading. If they provide last sold details about the neighbourhood from a map or however they garnered the information they are providing advice. Do they carry errors and omissions insurance. Will they create agency law obligations of honesty and diligence, fiduciary care with their clients? Its a slippery slope out there.

Why Hire An Agent ?

"WELL, HOW ABOUT .......PEACE OF MIND AND INSURANCE (the agents insurance)

The Consumer for his own protection, must establish in writing that they have engaged the services of the Agent in a fiduciary relationship, whereby the Agent is legally bound to protect and promote the best interest of their Client, together with many other duties imposed upon them under the Law of Agency.

The Retainer Agreement engaging the services of the real estate agent is in this instance generally described as either the “Listing Agreement” executed by a Seller or a “Buyer Representation Agreement” executed by a Buyer, either one of these standard forms in Ontario will establish a fiduciary relationship between the designated parties and their Agent.

Now ..... to the best of my knowledge, a consumer acting for themselves in a residential real estate transaction, cannot purchase errors & omission insurance, per se or even afford it if they could, but they can gain protection under their Agents insurance coverage by hiring and holding their Agent liable for any error & omission as may have been committed by their Agent, while acting on their Client's behalf. "

Don't use me because you can sue me; Use me because I have done it hundreds of times over the last two decades. Check what a few others have had to say. If you are new to town starting a new job, Do you have time to negotiate with a Private vendor? DO you want to see ALL the listings? But here is the real truth. In a changing values market You want to be sure that the purchase you are making is financially sound and at market value (or below). Have a CMA provided by a professional agent as a part of your purchase package.

Experience is not expensive. It's PRICELESS!

Monday, November 24, 2008

MMMmmm Gingerbread Cookies

A Holiday Tradition, the Gingerbread Cookie Factory Returns to Sherway Gardens!

Visit the Gingerbread Cookie Factory at SherwayGardens (Hwy 427 &the QEW) from November 27 through December 14, Thursdays through Sundays,(Thursday-Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm, Sunday 11 am – 5 pm) in Sherway Square. Cookies are $4 each or3 for $10. All the proceeds support the Volunteers of Trillium Health Centre's $5 million commitment to the hospital's capital campaign.* For additional information call 416-621-1070 or visit
I know that I am getting my cookies. I hope that you will get your gingerbread cookies!
The sales tables will be staffed by volunteers of Trillium Health.
Drop by and say Hello !

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Condo buyers should prepare for 'phantom' rent

Registration backlog could mean months of payments that don't count against your mortgage

TERRENCE BELFORD November 21, 2008
When is a mortgage payment not a mortgage payment? Move into a newly completed condominium and you are likely to find out.
Reader Dennis Melnbardis raised the question in a recent e-mail. He ran into this vexing situation head on.

"[It] was a great mystery - and a huge unexpected cost. A few years ago when my father purchased a condo, he was charged what was described as 'rent,' which we ended up paying for four months while we waited for the condo building to be 'registered.' This apparently depended on the percentage of occupants who had actually moved into their units," he wrote.

"In my father's case, it was four months of payments ... that did not actually count toward that mortgage and which my wife and I had to help out with because my father could not afford it. If a building is under construction for several years, why can't it already be 'registered' before completion?"

I asked lawyer Anne Hudson of Michael Peter Haddad Professional Corp. to explain the situation. Her firm regularly handles new condo purchases.

First, the idea of what is known as "phantom" rent only affects to the buyers of new condominiums, she says. Second, it is widespread, especially in the city of Toronto.

Under Ontario's Condominium Act, a developer can pass on to buyers the costs he must bear between the time a buyer moves in and when the project is registered and handed over to the newly organized condominium corporation.

Purchase deals cannot officially close until a project is registered. Until then, ownership lies with the developer, and the buyers are, in effect, tenants.

The developer still must make payments on the loan that financed construction, pay municipal property taxes, and cover the upkeep costs for common areas such as the pool and landscaped grounds.

The Condominium Act says that since people who have just moved in are not yet owners, they must pay enough in rent to ensure the developer is not out of pocket.

How widespread is phantom rent? Ms. Hudson says that she can think of only one condo in the past seven years where buyers did not face such payments. While in most projects the rental period is two to four months, she has seen situations in which that period stretched to eight months.

Now, down to the nitty gritty.

The Condominium Act allows a developer to charge tenants for three main expenses in the period between occupancy and condo registration: property taxes, a prorated share of common operating expenses and interest on the unpaid balance of the purchase price.

That interest rate is based on what the Bank of Canada says is the rate for one-year mortgages.
"In fact, many people may have negotiated mortgages lower than the suggested rate," Ms. Hudson says. That means their phantom rents may be higher than the regular monthly mortgage payments they will be paying once the project is registered.

Why are there phantom rents?

The bureaucracy is swamped with new condos, and the process of registering new suites is a lengthy one.

Before a condo can be registered, the developer must file what is known as a declaration with both the municipality and the provincial land registry office.

That is just the first step, however.

Once that declaration is registered, each unit within a condo must be properly described and recorded at the land registry. In the case of a condo with 300-plus suites, it is like registering an entire subdivision. It takes time.

Ms. Hudson says that, on average, the process takes about two years. Developers usually start the legal process the moment construction starts.

Problems arise when it takes less than two years to build the project. Yes, people get to move in, but they do not yet own their homes. The paperwork is not yet completed.

With more than 330 condo projects currently under way in the Greater Toronto Area, it is easy to understand the challenge faced by the bureaucracy, she says.

So, can anything be done to avoid an unpleasant surprise come move-in time?

Start by going through the documents with an experienced real estate lawyer during the 10-day rescission period - the time buyers get to change their minds after signing an offer to purchase, Ms. Hudson says. Then you can make counter offers to the developer or seek changes to the purchase agreement.

A larger down payment tendered in increments before closing will reduce the unpaid balance and the interest charged as part of phantom rent. An all-cash sale will do away with that element of phantom rent entirely.

"What I can also see happening is that developers may be more willing to offer incentives as the condo market cools," Ms. Hudson says. "A slowing in sales may also mean a slowdown in new projects and that, too, will help reduce the number of registrations that must be dealt with."

David Pylyp This article spawned many replies on various bulletin boards; Why should I pay occupancy rent if I am paying cash for my condo?, Why were these details not revealed?, why is the interest rate on the Phantom Rent mortgage at an interest rate higher than I can get at the bank myself.

To answer these very simply I ask? Why would you potentially hand over 200 or 300 thousand plus dollars to a developer and not even get a Bill of Sale. You cannot register your ownership online (POLARIS) You can not sell what you do not own, but you can move in.

The Move in date for your condo unit is based on the Occupancy permit being issued. Your unit may be ready, the entire building may not. Common Elements may be months before they are finished and your luxurious pool and rec centre may be months away from use.

Most of the condo developers that I have spoken with in the west end of Toronto do not usually accept down payment deposits in excess of the 15 or 20 % that is called for in their bundle of documents. Those people who pay an additional deposit receive interest on their deposit, usually at the daily interest rates, not really appetizing.

Average times for registration of condo building are based on the completition of the work and the developer completing their final plans and filings. (Paperwork) These registrations many be months if not potentially years away, but the Condominium ACT is written with the consumer in mind. If you paid the builder and they are forced into bankruptcy or there is a claim against the building for faulty something and it never closes, the HOWLS of protest from those who saved on the Phantom mortgage would be even louder.

Your money would simply be gone. What did you save? Many people who have contacted me about flipping their units prior to registration do not clearly understand the process of condo registration. They are surprised that the contract contained details about assignment, deposits and phantom mortgage payments clearly detailed for them in the documents they signed. They had the opportunity to take them to the lawyer and have them explained. But did not.

To those with creative writing skills who would reword the legal agreement crafted by very qualified Condominium Act specialists, I would respond the charges incurred for legal fees who quickly outweigh your "financial savings". This also assumes that the Builder/Developer accepts your offer with the changes made on the advice of his lawyer.

Lawyers may kill deals not in client's best interest

From time to time, lawyers get accused by real estate agents of being "deal killers." I was reminded of this recently in an email from Paula Riopelle, a real estate lawyer in Orleans, Ont.
She was responding to my Nov. 1 column, "Agents should never brush off the need for a survey." In it, I argued that title insurance is not a substitute for an accurate survey prepared by a professional land surveyor.

Riopelle echoed my concern that some homebuyers are receiving poor advice.

"My clients have been telling me at alarming rates," she wrote, "that their realtor said they don't need a survey when title insurance will suit them just fine. This is troubling to me, as they are advising clients about issues for which they are not qualified to provide advice.

"I find it extremely frustrating that in their efforts to close the deal and collect their commission cheques, the interest of the client takes the back seat."

She added, "A few real estate agents have also told me they're tired of lawyers 'killing their deals' when a status certificate is reviewed, or other similar issues the lawyer will have warned the client about."

Unfortunately, some real estate agents position themselves as adversaries to their client's real estate lawyer in purchase or sale transactions.

The website of Scarborough law firm Fleury, Comery LLP contains a memo to the firm's clients noting, "Sometimes our clients find themselves being urged to sign an agreement before consulting their lawyer because 'lawyers kill deals.' "

The memo concludes by saying "Yes, lawyers are deal-killers. We kill bad deals."

Most real estate agents are conscientious and serious about their obligations. "The good agents," Riopelle says, "aren't worried about us properly advising clients about issues that we discover about a property or issues disclosed in a (condominium) status certificate – they, too, want their clients to be satisfied."

I know what she means. As many as half the status certificates that I review for Toronto condominium transactions reveal that the offer and listing contain the wrong unit or level number, or the wrong maintenance fees.

As well, a high percentage of the resale offers that I see for Toronto freehold homes contain clauses which are unnecessary or which duplicate the printed form but compromise the protection of one or both parties to the agreement.

Sometimes, however, the realtors in these transactions become upset when the issues are raised by the lawyer.

Better agents, and of course the clients, appreciate that kind of legal advice.

Several years ago, in his column in REM (Real Estate Magazine), the late Albert Teichner – a veteran B.C. realtor – urged lawyers and realtors to work together.

"In the home stretch," he wrote, "the realtor and lawyer should work together as equals in a team effort atmosphere. Only then will everybody win and benefit: the realtor, the lawyer and above all, the client."

In the course of a real estate transaction, if a real estate agent advises that title insurance is a replacement for a land survey, or that the lawyer doesn't need to advise on the content of the agreement, it might be worthwhile to ask who is protecting the client's interests.

Above all else, the lawyer's duty in a real estate transaction is to protect the client's interests – even if it means the client will abort the transaction or arrange to correct any matters which require amendment. And even if it means the lawyer won't get a fee on an aborted transaction.
Calling a lawyer a "deal killer" betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of his or her role in a real estate transaction.

Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer. He can be reached by email at, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818. Visit the column archives at for searchable articles on this and other topics.

David Pylyp So often when talking with clients, I provide them with the best advice for their situation or refer to a higher source of authority to provide the guidance they need. They chose to work with another agent then come back to complain to me they they were misled.

After they have commited with another agent under contract I cannot become involved. Experience is not expensive. It is priceless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What will happen to luxury condos?

Toronto has never had more choice in location or greater numbers on the market

With stock markets, commodity prices and even the dollar bouncing around like numbered balls in a bingo caller's cage, the question has to be asked: What will happen to luxury condominiums in the GTA?

Toronto has never had more choice in location or greater numbers on the market. but can all those suites find eager buyers at a time when rrsps and other investments have shrunk like popsicles in the August sun?

The consensus among the men and women who build, market and sell these luxury condos is that it is a bit too soon for definitive predictions. if past history is a guide then those projects offering suites at the very top end of the market may only be marginally affected, if at all.

The ones at risk are most likely to be those in the $700,000 to $1 million range. but even then a host of factors will be coming into play.

First, look at what is at risk. according to Jane Renwick, Executive Vice-President of Urbanation inc., there are 14 projects that could be defined as luxury condominiums on the market today. Urbanation defines luxury buildings as those where prices start at $600 a square foot.

Seven of those sell for more than $1,000 a square foot. that list includes 77 Charles, 155 Cumberland and the St. Thomas, all located on streets of the same names, museum-House on Bloor Street west of Avenue Road, the East and West towers of the Four Seasons project in Yorkville and the Wentworth on avenue road just south of Upper Canada College.

They may indeed suffer the least, she says. the reason is that men and women willing and able to plunk down anywhere from $2.5 million to $30 million for a new condo tend to have long-established wealth and the ability to weather economic cycles. When they decide to buy a condo the decision is lifestyle driven and not linked to economic factors.

"If you go right back to the 1980s, monthly sales of luxury condos have varied little in either boom times or bad times," she says. "the range is between about 2.6 and 2.9 sales a month. Granted there were fewer properties on the market back then but those average sales stayed within that narrow range."

Expand the luxury category to include high priced suites in mid-market buildings and you get a different picture. Realnet Canada inc., which also tracks the real estate market says there were 32 projects in the Greater Toronto Area where the average selling price for all suites in the building was over $653 a square foot at the end of September. that works out to 7% of everything now available or 1,327 suites.

In the super luxury class - projects where the average selling price for all suites was above $869 a square foot - there were 14 projects at the end of September and eight of them sold for more than $1,000 a square foot.

Will the strong market for luxury product continue despite hard economic times?

"You have to ask yourself if there are 1,327 people in the GTA willing and able to write a cheque for $2 million or more for a new condo," says George Carras, Realnet President. "it is really too soon to tell; there are a lot of factors at play."

Those factors include things such as the liquidity of investments. if buyers were planning on selling stocks or mutual funds to finance that purchase, will they be willing to do so at a time when share values are a fraction of what they were a year ago?

Will resale home prices start to fall? Will luxury condo buyers be able to easily sell existing homes or will they put a hold on downsizing plans in a hope that the market turns back up again?

Also, will projects still in pre-construction sales be able to hit higher pre-sales requirements set by mortgage companies or will those projects be cancelled?

But if that is the negative side there are a lot of pluses in the ledger as well. Ms. Renwick points out that every indication is that the GTA's population will continue to grow by about 100,000 new immigrants a year and that demand for retirement condos among wealthy baby boomers is still in its early stages.

"At the same time, an 80 cent plus Canadian dollar has to look pretty good to foreign buyers," says Mr. Carras. "What they see is prices discounted by foreign exchange in the largest city in a country least affected of all industrialized nations by the economic slowdown."

Also, "wages are still rising steadily and if you remove auto sales then the retail sales figures reported by Statistics Canada for the third quarter were up 4%," she says. "We will have to wait and see what the fourth quarter figures are."

Sam Crignano, a partner in Cityzen Group developments, which has both pier 27, just east of the foot of Yonge Street, and the shores at the mouth of Bronte Creek on the GO, sees another bright hope for continued demand.

He points out the Bank of Canada says to expect even further interest rate cuts, which means mortgage rates will continue to decline. at the same time, unlike those in the United states, Canadian banks continue to lend to qualified buyers.

"It is natural to go through a period of uncertainty," he says. "but i think that uncertainty is not likely to last. i can see great promise still in the luxury condo market."

David Pylyp A well written and thoughtful piece from the National Post. The West Toronto, Etobicoke waterfront is a destination that will continue to draw residents to the west end. the Humber Bay Shore Community of Condos continues to be a demand destination.

Buyer's Market or Buyer's Strike?

Things have noticeably slowed down in the past year, with home buyers hitting some invisible wall about mid September, but many Real Estate Buyer's fear today's prices will seem way too high tomorrow, so they're sitting on the sidelines.

People simply will stop buying, When the difference between what buyers want to pay and what sellers wanted to receive widens dramatically.. and then some homes couldn't find any buyers at all.

Buyer’s strikes aren't one-day phenomenon, but neither do they stretch on for months. The strike ends when buyer’s think they again know what homes are worth and stop sitting on their hands in fear that any price they pay today will seem like way too much tomorrow.

This one will work itself out over the next couple of months as houses, jobs lay offs, stocks, bailouts and confidence, that are the focus of media right now, subprime mortgages (US), government guarantees of Banks, work out for the auto industry and the debt used to finance buyouts and housing prices themselves.. get re-priced.

"Re-priced" "Price Reductions" "New Price" is all real estate jargon for "reduce the asking price until they find a Buyer at the new price."

Buyers strikes end when buyers become satisfied that today's prices accurately reflect the risks in the market. Prices get marked down. More homes selling at those prices reassures home buyers that those prices will stick. And with trust in prices restored, buyers return to the market.

So what is a buyers strike?

In an orderly market, the price of homes and condos may be moving up or down, but the difference at any one moment between what buyers want to pay and what sellers want to receive is relatively small. This is reflected in the modest annual increases that continued in the Toronto market ’99 – ’05 (gains of 3-5% in excess of what might be earned on your Canada Savings Bonds)

What causes such a buyers strike?

Think of it like deer-caught-in-the-headlights moment for the home buying market. Buyers are so uncertain about the validity of current prices that they freeze into inactivity, buying nothing, until they think they can trust prices again. FUD see previous entry

Why would anybody buy real estate assets now, right now? Stability. Opportunity. If you own a home now that is almost paid for, your opportunity to move UP into something better, either by size or neighbourhood, closer to your place of employment has never be better.

That said, maybe my background from the financial services sector makes me too analytical.
Homeowners with better credit ratings but with challenges such as an the inability to document income, might need to be more forthcoming with details and disclosures to obtain financing, but those with solid employment and credit histories can obtain great deals on financing!

If you are sitting on the fence about when to step into the west Toronto real estate market and are considering the sale of your property, I would like to meet with you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Greater Toronto Resale Housing at 2,000 Sales Mid November

TORONTO, November 19, 2008 – Greater Toronto REALTORS® recorded 1,991 resale transactions during the first half of November 2008 from 3,544 sales recorded during the same period a year ago, Toronto Real Estate Board President Maureen O’Neill announced today.

The Greater Toronto Area year-to-date figures show 70,474 sales in 2008 from 84,994 recorded during the same period in 2007. The year-to-date average price was recorded at $380,470 in 2008 from $374,678 in 2007.

In the 416 area, 830 homes changed hands in the first two weeks of November from 1,643 transactions recorded during the same time frame a year ago. The year-to-date figures show 28,126 compared to 35,045 recorded in 2007. In the 905 Region there were 1,161 sales during the first half of the month from the 1,901 transactions recorded at mid-November 2007. The year-to-date figures show 42,348 compared to 49,949 recorded in 2007.

It’s particularly important to interpret the 416 area statistics in context given the market surge we saw a year ago when buyers moved to avoid the new Toronto Land Transfer Tax,” said Ms. O’Neill. “At mid- month a year ago, transactions in the 416 area had increased 24 per cent over the same period in 2006.”

David Pylyp This decline in sales has many people in panic mode and damage control; But there is a silver lining.
  • The home owners who purchased in 1995 - 2000 have incredible equity in their homes.
  • With New home prices softening the step between what you have and what you might what has never been closer.
  • Lenders are offering very attractive mortgage packages.
  • In real estate, when you sell and buy whether the market activity is up or down is moot.
  • Yes, you will sell for less, Yes You will buy for substancially less.
  • Highest activity is in the under 350K range - This means the second and third time buyer has much more to chose from.

Are you considering consolidating households? Are you moving a family member in for elder care? Has there been a new addition to your family? Have you outgrown your current home?

Buy One Get One Free Offers

Ever more creative marketers are finding ways to attract customers;

Car Dealer has a Two for One Sale

Empson said: "It was amazing. We had been trying to sell those cars online at half price for nearly a month and they were selling, but it was nothing special. But when we made the deal two-for-one, we got 22,000 customers. It's the power of marketing, I suppose. The very first call I had was from a father who was going to buy the two cars, have one himself and give the other to his son."

His company, a partner with the BBC's Top Gear magazine, is negotiating the same offer with two more mainstream manufacturers, but declined to name which ones. "If you've got the money there has never been a better time to buy a car," he said.

This is not a new program. One builder in the California was looking to reduce inventory of his Million Dollar Homes;

Michael Crews Development is offering new, 2000-square foot cityscape row-homes worth $400,000 in Escondido for free -- if you buy one Royal View Estate home in San Pasqual Valley starting at $1.6 million."You know it's a straight-up legit deal; no prices have been increased, there are no hidden costs. Michael is just giving away a free home for people that buy at Royal View," said Berry.

Adam Rossman of Michael Crews Development added, "People have been coming in saying, 'How can you do this?' Well, it's our way of dealing with current market conditions to move some inventory."

Berry said, "Buy a 4,000-square foot home at Royal View and they get an extra 2,000 square feet to do as they please, be that renting it out for investment property or be that letting their kids have a place."So, it's time to call your parents to see if they're interested in moving to San Diego.

David Pylyp; The question I would ask; Are we more interested in the giveaway? or Are we interested in the values? Would this work in the Toronto Market? Buy a home at a Million in Islington Heights, then pick a Pied a Terre near the Opera House?

I think the bigger question to ask is what will your agent do for you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Upcoming Events in Lakeshore Etobicoke Community

OurLakeshore.netUpcoming Events and Meetings

Below is some information on upcoming community events and meetings.

Community Meetings:November 24th: New Proposed Community CentreTDSB is holding a meeting regarding a proposed community centre at the current Lakeshore Lions Arena. Click Here for information.

November 27th: Proposed townhomes at 51 Lake Shore Drive The City Of Toronto is holding a community consultation meeting on the proposed 4 story townhomes at 51 Lake Shore Drive. Click here for information. A group has developed this website about the development.

Community Events:November 26th. "Tis the Season to Deck The Hall" at Assembly Hall.Click here for information on this festive event for the entire family.December 6th, 10am.

Christmas in the Lakeshore parade. Don't miss the annual Santa Claus parade. Click here for information

Feel free to send information about community events and issues to Residents, By Residents Lakeshore Village Etobicoke CA M8V2Y Canada

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Glass half full or half empty?

Housing market in the Greater Toronto Area

Toronto Real Estate Board stats for October created some heated dialogue in the industry in recent weeks. While many believe that the dismal statistics reflect the recent volatility in financial markets, some are now asking if they also identify an emerging trend in the Greater Toronto Area.

The simple answer is no. Although there are some serious negative factors influencing the marketplace, one month does not make a market. We need several consecutive months of momentum – one way or another – before we can really determine the direction of the market.

Make no mistake. 2008 has presented our industry with challenges across the board. Unit sales are down 16 per cent from one year ago, hovering at approximately 70,000, while average price at $380,654 is up marginally over year–to–date figures for the same period in 2007. And the prognosis will get worse before it gets better, considering the new land transfer tax rate implemented in January, 2008 artificially inflated housing values during the fourth quarter of 2007. Average price hovered close to $400,000 in October, November, and December of last year – which will be the measuring stick in the months ahead.

Clearly, market conditions have shifted in favour of the buyer. There are more homes listed for sale than one year ago and houses are taking longer to sell. Our forecast for 2008 – released in October of 2007 – said as much.

Sellers are adjusting to new market realities – albeit reluctantly – while buyers are taking it all in. Some are sitting on the fence, waiting for housing values to fall further or interest rates to decline a percentage point or two more. The courageous are jumping into the market, taking advantage of lower prices, greater selection, and less competition.

For those that are trading in the same market, it’s all relative. Sellers may get less than they thought for their homes, but they’ll also pay less on the other side of the transaction. With market conditions stabilizing, first–time buyers now have the luxury of time in making their housing decisions. They also have greater purchasing power than they had one year ago – and their dollar will go much farther.

Unlike other investment vehicles, residential real estate serves two purposes. It’s still considered an investment, but it is also a roof over your head. We know from past experience that housing appreciates at a rate of five per cent annually. It’s cyclical, so it may rise and fall, but the risk involved will never be as steep or as serious as in the stock market, where the value of your portfolio can drop 30 per cent overnight and some of your stocks can fall to 0. You also can’t live in your mutual fund.

Real estate in the Greater Toronto Area has faced many challenges over the years but continued to experience steady growth. In 2009, there are some announcements that are expected to have a positive impact on the housing market and they are as follows:

  • The Bank of Canada has indicted that lending rates may fall further in 2009.
  • Federal government intervention in the form of a $75 billion mortgage purchase from the CMHC will free up additional credit.

  • Measures will be introduced by both the Federal and Provincial government to bolster the economy. In Ontario, that could mean a bailout package for the ailing manufacturing sector.

  • A lower Canadian dollar – hovering at 85 cents American – may provide a much–needed boost to manufacturing.

  • Job employment rates continue to hold steady in the GTA, despite upward momentum at the provincial level. The unemployment rate was 6.8 per cent in October, down from 6.9 per cent in September.

  • Population in the GTA continues to grow through migration, with 60,000 plus households expected to form in 2009.

  • Last, but not least, we must remember that the Greater Toronto Area generates about 10 per cent of the country’s total wealth – that’s comparable to what New York, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco make to the US economy. There’s no question that we are a world–class city – in a have–not province.

We may be in for some challenges over the next six to nine month period, but we should see clear signs of recovery by late 2009. The good news is that lifecycle events will continue to occur, whether real estate is experiencing a bull or bear market.

I am recalling the President Elect Obama's comments on CNN news last night. When the last depression occurred the economy was in excess of 30 % unemployment. We are currently at 6%!

Asbestos Removal a Homeowner’s Priority

When purchasing or remodeling a home or building, there are many variables to consider. Homes which were built prior to 1980 have a strong likelihood of containing asbestos materials. With a steady progression of green sustainable methods of building and technology, there are many different ways to make sure your property is free of this corrosive material. If you are interested in saving money, remodeling and improving your carbon footprint, here is some information to get you on the right track.

Due to asbestos being used as a main material in building insulation throughout the twentieth century, it is important to take the proper removal methods to make sure these toxic materials are out of harm’s way. Damaged asbestos can produce diseases such as Peritoneal Mesothelioma, Pericardial Mesothelioma and various lung illnesses. Recent studies indicate that over 2,000 to 3,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the United States alone.

If you maintain residence in the Markland woods, Princess Gardens, Islington Heights or Central Etobicoke areas or a home in the Toronto GTA, companies such as Environmental Services Group (ESG) in Toronto can assess survey and remove asbestos with their qualified asbestos abatement professionals. With a professional staff, ESG can help determine if you have asbestos and assist you in determining the most logical method of managing the problem- disposal or removal.

Once the removal is complete, green insulation options should be given serious consideration, such as: Cellulose, Cotton Fiber and Lcynene. Cotton fiber is made from recycled batted material and treated to be fireproof. A water based spray polyurethane foam, Lcynene features no toxic components. In addition, most people are unaware to the fact that these eco-friendly products can cut energy costs per household by 35 % per year.

Not only will asbestos removal make for a healthier, more vibrant home, it can save you money. The United Nations Environmental Program states that usage of recycled materials such as green insulation methods and lighting can reduce energy use by 25 to 25 percent! Removing asbestos by a licensed professional is worth the expense and time.

Snow already! Its so soon!

Top 10 tips for winter driving

As Canadians head into another winter, Transport Canada has released a brochure with its top 10 tips to reduce the risk of a collision, noting “prevention is better than recovery”. It includes information about how to make your vehicle winter-ready, how to prepare for and drive in bad weather and what to pack in a winter survival kit.

Transport Canada and the Canadian Automobile Association put together these tips. The full brochure, Winter Driving, is available on the websites of Transport Canada and the CAA

Top 10 tips

  • Get your vehicle ready for winter in the fall. Get your car thoroughly checked out, fill up with winter washer fluid and use winter wipers.

  • Install four matching winter tires.

  • Pack an emergency kit.

  • Learn and practise winter driving techniques before you need them.

  • Plan your trip, check road and weather conditions. Watch for black ice at temperatures between –4 and +4 C. Black ice is often found on shaded areas of the road, bridges and overpasses.

  • Remove all snow from your vehicle before each trip.

  • Give yourself extra travel time in bad weather.

  • Avoid using overdrive and cruise control on slippery roads.

  • Travel with a fully charged cellphone.

  • Slow down and wear your seatbelt.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Falling home prices put some buyers 'under water'

The day Adele moved into her $192,000 townhouse in Brampton in May, she was "under water."

That's because she had a 100 per cent mortgage – not a penny for a down payment – and a 40-year amortization that had to be insured. In the end, she owed $199,000 for the three-bedroom house.

Under water.

Negative equity.

These terms strike fear in the hearts of homeowners who have been merrily calculating their net worth based on rising housing prices in Toronto and the GTA. Read the rest of this article.

In a market where there is a slow or low appreciation in property prices ie. 3 - 5% annually, it is possible to be underwater or negative equity on your mortgage for years.

This is further compounded by people making 5% down or zero down purchases where the cash back option is taken. Let's say for example that you Purchased a home with 5% down on $300K, thats $15,000 down, plus closing costs. The mortgage that would be at $285.0 is now added to by the 3% CMHC premium plus the 6 or 7% cash back option that you may have chosen. The new payment would be calculated on an actual balance of $293K ( 285 + 8.5 cmhc ).

Taking the cash back option does not reflect the true price of borrowing but adds back amounts advanced into the mortgage amount plus interest and an (increased) adjusted rate to reflect the benefit you have received. ( in the next five or six year term of your mortgage you are paying back the addition benefit of $17.0K that you received.

The Toronto real estate market, even, if a zero or negative return, will continue to be a mecca for people coming to Canada, to follow their dream of home ownership. CMHC recently released details that the percentage of home owners was 68.4%.

No matter how well you could do with cash in the bank. currently offering a rate of +/- 3%, you cannot house and raise a family in a safety deposit box. Simply put, you will need a place to live.

Renewed credit criteria vigilance and stricter appraisal practices may make purchasing a home more challenging but those that commit to the long term of home ownership will have better returns over decades than examining a micro period ( ie 30 days).

I urge you to re evaluate your family situation; Do you need a NEW downtown condo with a two story lobby and health club like facilities on site; or would an older building be more suitable with more square footage and better per square foot values?

For those naysayers; I would remind you that in the previous recession Donald Trump had a negative equity of sum $470 Million Dollars.

FSBO in West Toronto, Etobicoke,Mississauga

With the explosion of the internet in users and websites, it would seem that real estate agents may be compared to being in the buggy whip business according to byowner websites.

While agents are required and responsible to provide accurate property records, exact and post factual data on their listings. Professional experienced real estate agents are very careful in how they answer questions or make promises because they are held to a higher standard that is enforced by any of the 3 or 4 real estate boards they may belong to as well at RECO the provincial licensing authority.

The FSBO sites are plentiful (and embellish their readership and success claims to help you part with your advertising dollars) and I even sponsor a dedicated space on one nationally based website to assist FSBO's marketing efforts, they cannot replace the realtor based (recently rebranded as website when it comes t0 finding MOST the properties that are for sale. When looking thru a sampling of "available" listings for Listing Prospects, I realized that more than 95% has ultimately listed with a brokerage.

If the sites were that successful why was this ratio so high? This was for a sampling of 100 homes located in the Etobicoke, Mississauga west Toronto (GTA).

Yes, I will concede that NO ONE, knows the house better than the owner, but after that, is the owner as versed about the local employers, best mode of transit access, schools, community centers, local information and lore, community action groups, future planning developments and homes/neighbourhoods under construction, financing, special offers from LENDERS, home staging, candid advise about dressing your home for success and pricing your property correctly into the market based on SOLD competition. Who will hold the hand of the Buyers in the car for the next half hour driving thru the neighbourhood and pointing out the last sales and describing or showing the details from their neighbourhood comparible data.

After the concept of SAVE SAVE SAVE the commission, the Buyers who are skilled to buy a private listing are looking to ALSO save save save on the purchase price. Real Estate agents are negotiators; to bring parties together, fascilitors to encourage a transaction, hand holders to nervous buyers, rain makers to bring prospects to your listing, showcase and feature your property both online with IMPACT advertisings and Google search responses.

There was another thought that came to mind after reviewing many of the FSBO sites. The majority of SELLERS were selling the first house they had ever owned; often purchased new from the builder, in heavy traffic neighbourhoods for new construction. Once away from the high traffic areas for buyers its a much tougher road to attract prospects to see your home. In my 20 years of selling real estate and more importantly helping family's fulfill their housings needs, I have rarely come across a FSBO who has sold multiple times.

I merely ask a humble question, after you have sold your home privately, will you be using a REALTOR? The answer always surprises the owner in replying that they would be using an agent.

Mark Argentino articulated a point very well recently when he said "there are four people involved in your real estate transaction; the Seller, The Buyer, and usually two agents. It is inevitable that the person with the strongest arguments, best presented details, negotiation and persuasion skills will take the business to his side.

Having more unorganised FSBO websites with limited content does not detract from or RE/ where your listings are prominantly displayed or showcased on my own websites. Your listing can have its own domain name such as the address, or merely a page that is pointed within the website. The result is the same, YOUR HOME is featured online to find a buyer, (regardless of their locale) showings occur and hopefully your home will go under contract.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tax Free Savings Accounts

Making the Tax-Free Savings Account fit for your life

In January, 2009, Canadians will have a new tax-free option for saving – the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). TFSAs are a flexible investment vehicle into which you can make non-deductible contributions (up to $5,000 per adult in 2009) that will grow and can be withdrawn without incurring taxation. Withdrawals can be made at any time for any purpose. Unused contribution room can be carried forward indefinitely and any amounts withdrawn in a year will be added back to your contribution room in the following year.

So, how you use your tax-free TFSA dollars is totally up to you. But it’s a good plan to ‘fit’ your TFSA investment uses to your life stage. Here are some tips.

Young adults and young families
  • Save for emergencies and large short term expenses -- like a vehicle, vacation or home down payment without having to liquidate investments and paying taxes on the income.
  • Save for a home – in addition to or in place of the RRSP Home Buyers Plan.
  • Save for education – in addition to or in place of non-registered savings, the RRSP Lifelong Learning Plan or RESPs.
  • Save for your children – as a parent, you retain control of TFSA funds and when to disburse them.
  • Save to start a business – TFSAs are a tax-effective way to save the initial equity you need and can be used as security for bank financing.
  • Save for retirement – in addition to your RRSP contributions.

Mature adults

  • Save for emergencies, large short term expenses and retirement, in addition to RRSPs.
  • Save your tax refund – contribute your RRSP tax refunds to your TFSA.


  • Save for emergencies and large short term expenses.
  • Shelter excess income from future taxation – if your combined retirement income (from RRSPs, pension, OAS and CPP) is more than you need to live on, build up a non-taxable reserve in your TFSA.
  • Build retirement savings after RRSPs – you can’t contribute to an RRSP after age 71, but you can still invest in your TFSA.
  • Build a tax-free inheritance for children – a TFSA can be transferred to a surviving spouse/common-law partner without affecting their TFSA contribution room. On the death of the second spouse, the children may inherit the total amount tax-free.

Your professional advisor can help you make the most of your TFSAs and other investments, at every life stage.

John Scholl B. Mathematics, CGA, Wealth Management & Financial Planning Investors Group
200 - 24 Queen Street East, Brampton, Ontario L6V 1A3
( Tel. : (905) 450-2891 X529
( Toll Free: (866) 799-2223
( Cell: (416) 731-3660

Search the MLS in Toronto for your new home

The new and improved site has been RE released with Google mapping features that have been to the howls and complaints of users. This new site is the rebranded

In a previous posting by the CREA they advise that only 85% of the content is available online as some address' or listings are sheilded from viewers. True enthusiasts can create their own HOME Match Search on either the Homes West Toronto or Humber Bay Shore Condo websites. By registering as a VIP Client you can access the entire database.

The Toronto Star posted an update. Nov 15, 2008

Messing with our real estate crack
When wildly popular property site was relaunched last month, no one could have anticipated the furious response. Some of the protesters are even looking for a house

"Since (the relaunch), we've gotten 16,000 emails either complaining or asking for help," Linney sighs. "It's a service that people get emotionally attached to. We understand that. And it's been a huge, huge education problem, believe me."

Linney wants to be clear: The new site, redubbed in a nod to the industry it's meant to serve (, CREA rightly decided, was a little oblique), was meant to improve the user experience, not hamper it. The old interface, which divided provinces or cities into arbitary segments (Toronto's were C01 for downtown, or W01 for the west end), was done away with in favour of postal codes, or an interactive map.

The problems were apparent immediately. "People had some trouble getting the map to work," Linney says, a verbal shrug. On the technical side, CREA is trying to iron out the rough spots for a quiet reintroduction of the new site on Nov. 20.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

CMHC Housing Report Nov 08

OTTAWA, November 13, 2008 — New analysis that tracked how long Canadians living in core housing need* remained in this situation over a three-year period is unveiled in the 2008 Canadian Housing Observer, released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Some highlites include;
  • Strong employment and income growth continued to bolster homeownership demand in Canada.The rate of homeownership in Canada rose to 68.4 per cent in 2006, the largest increase between censuses dating back to 1971.
  • In 2007, housing-related spending contributed close to $300 billion to the Canadian economy.
  • Mortgage arrears in Canada remain low. In 2007, slightly more than a quarter of one per cent of Canadian households (0.26 per cent) fell three or more months behind in their mortgage payments.
  • The composition of Canadian households continues to change as baby boomers age. For decades, couples with children have made up a declining percentage of all households, and the average size of households has shrunk.

Complementing the 2008 print edition of the Observer is a detailed array of online housing market and housing conditions data resources at This includes CMHC’s Housing in Canada Online (HiCO), a powerful and free interactive tool that provides access to data on national, regional, local and off-reserve housing conditions, including core housing need.

David Pylyp I find it incredible that the Dream of HomeOwnership in Canada is at a high 68%! This is 15 if not almost 20 % higher than the United States with all their mortgage interest deductibility programs.

If you would like to buy or sell a home or condo in west Toronto feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Assumable Mortgages as Marketing Tools

With Toronto Real Estate softening and the prices showing signs of adjustment; It might be worthwhile to look at homes for sale that have an existing mortgage that could be assumed, as a marketing tool to get your home sold.

Consider interest rates; they have not increased dramatically in the short term but could and I believe will rise in light of global borrowing as the need to attract investors for bonds and certificates in financial markets becomes interest rate sensitive.

Mortgagors on a property most suitable for this kind of program are already high ratio and have paid the CMHC Insurance fees. (previously added to the mortgage balance) If this mortgage is assumed the NEW borrower is paying CASH to the existing mortgage. They would be required to qualify for the debt at the current rates, credit criteria and guidelines. An additional property appraisal may be required.

Simply put, on a 300K assumption this could be a savings of $8,000, or on a 400K mortgage could be $11,000. CMHC Ratio fees range from 0.65 to 2.75% on a graduated scale based on the level of advance to value.

Briefly, one of the first things to consider is the terms and conditions as contained within the specific mortgage document.Most mortgage documents, although similar in nature are not always identical and even when the terms of a particular mortgage referred to as the mortgages “Standard Charge Terms” is registered with the Ontario Government and assigned a registration number, does not ensure that the lender in question has not attached an Addendum and/or a Schedule to a particular mortgage document thereby amending the “Standard Charge Terms” as was originally recorded.Therefore, prior to making any commitment, a person would be well advised to have the specific mortgage document in question, reviewed by a lawyer familiar with mortgage documents.Today most mortgage documents contain an escalation clause whereby, the full balance of the mortgage becomes due and payable forthwith, should the mortgagor default on any of the terms of the mortgage. The right of the mortgagor / borrower to exercise any or his or her rights as may be contained in said mortgage, begin with the premise “when not in default, the mortgagor may ....”

A significant number of mortgage documents as prepared on behalf of either institutional lenders and/or private lenders do not permit the assignment of their mortgage. Those institutional lenders and/or private lenders that did permit an assignment of their mortgage, would only consent to the assignment or their mortgage, provided the new mortgagor was creditworthy and financially approved by the lender.

Further, such lenders would not release the original borrower (Mortgagor / Chargor) from liability for the debt. Therefore, in the event of a default by the assignee (new borrower) the lender had the option of choosing which of the two parties to pursue (original mortgagor or the assignee) for the repayment of the debt and usually the lender chose to pursue the most financially able of the two parties.

Important Notice: This information is provided as basic educational information by the author and is not a substitute for the advice of an expert and/or the advice of a lawyer. There is NO representation as to legality, accuracy, correctness of the information herein and the reader is strongly urged to consult a lawyer in the relevant jurisdiction to ensure accuracy before acting on this information.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Traffic congestion at Humber Bay Shore

Any commuter from the Mississauga Oakville corridor runs the gauntlet of traffic congestion that squeezes all the drivers onto the Gandiner Expressway or onto Lake Shore Blvd. With all the forethought and planning How did this happen?

When the Humber Bay Shore Bridge was rebuilt, land was acquired from Palace Pier to permit the move of the bridge south. This restricted the traffic to be a single lane only on Lake Shore Bouldvard. Did no one notice all the buildings being constructed along the Lake Shore?

Lets add to the mix the concentration of housing (condo units) at Mystic Pointe. They are affectionately named California Dreamin and ilofts but they are continuing to expand. The only access point is to Lake Shore or the Queensway via Grande Ave. South Beach condos is proposed for the strip between the QEW and Lake Shore Blvd., right on Park Lawn Road.
The Humber Bay Shore Condominium Association says 7,688 condo households in this corridor, are either in existance, under construction or proposed. All these cars are pouring out onto Marine Parade Drive and ultimately Lake Shore Blvd; Palace Pier and Palace Place residents have successfully diverted the traffic off of Palace Place Court, and turned it back to Marine Parade.

There are rumours of commercial development at the Christie's site at the corner of Parklawn Road and Lakeshore, that will bring employees, services, merchandise and product deliveries that will be bought by consumers who will arrive in their cars. It is proposed as RETAIL Commercial if rezoned when the scruptious cookie smells disappear.

What about the people who would like to visit the west lakeshore community parks and access to the water that is always talked about? Samuel Smith Park due south of Kipling and Lakeshore behind the Humber College campus, Humber Bay Park east and west due south of Parklawn Road. Where will these people park? Could there be plans for underground parking along Marine Parade Drive? Would the TRCA (Toronto Region conservation Authority) have a voice?
Access to the Marine Parade park system is lacking parking for those commuters bringing their families down for a day of fun near the water. Is there a solution?
Absolutely... The City of Toronto is STUDYING the issue. "The new Park Lawn loop is an important component of plans for a new LRT type line operating in its own right of way from south Etobicoke to Union Station. This future “Waterfront West” route, portions of which were originally approved in 1993, will help to fulfill the Official Plan vision to provide high quality, high speed transit service as part of the Transit City Plan. In the short term, the loop at Park Lawn will allow the existing streetcar short-turn at the Humber Loop to occur further west, thereby doubling the frequency of service to the Park Lawn Area"

Since 1993? This is 2008. We are mindful of gas prices, traffic congestion, driving times that are being solved with the City of Toronto fining people for idling their vehicles. When will we have the many visionary plans implemented? The City is collecting levy and permit fees for every building and suite, yet Etobicoke south is being overlooked for the sake of downtown Toronto.
Go Transit has professed an improvment of services yet the proposed Parklawn Road station has not materialised. Running trains that do not stop at stations is not progress. Go Transit continues to allow free parking on their properties for commuters who leave their cars at closer (to the city core) stations that often leave the lots brimming full, to overflow, with parkers at Mimico and Longbranch.
Many community groups are trying to bring this to the foreground of municipal politicians and planners. I would urge you to join the Citizens Concerned about the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront or the Humber Bay Shores Condominium Association community group to get involved. We all have an interest in seeing what happens to our lakefront.
We all want a world class city and I believe that Toronto west is the place to be, but we need a consolidation of efforts to bring, If I remember correctly, Crombie's Plan for the waterfront to fruition. Your comments are always invited.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Executive Townhouse Comparison

In preparation for a listing presentation I made a graph of the last sales in a particular townhouse complex that is in a demand neighbourhood near the Islington Subway.

What would you tell a Listing Prospect?

The last sales in 2008 are 440.0, 458.0, 469.0 448.0, and 468.0 thousand.
Human nature wants to have the highest value for their sale as their home is naturally the best in the complex. Since the last sale, we have had a stock market adjustment and a real devaluation of all capital assets.

If we assess this based on the Toronto Market Watch reporting decline of 15% of VALUE y0y our new asking prices should be $399.0 This figure is inline with another complex offering similar values NEW directly from the builder with remaining inventory available.

Why would an agent encourage Listing at these values? when they themselves should not have the confidance that they will be achieved? Sign Calls! They generate direct Buyer Activity that they can then bring prospects to view... OTHER listings.

From the Buyers perspective, in my 20 years of shopping for homes, buyers inherently ask the same questions, Why are they selling? How much do you think we can get it for? and the ultimate question, What did the last one sell for?

It is incumbant upon a professional Buyers Agent to assure and ensure that his Buyer is making a prudent financial choice today. Financial institutions are appraising these properties very carefully to value their security. If the property does not appraise you may be required to increase your downpayment to maintain the level of financing available compared to purchase price. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, but today we want to be comforted that we have made a financial analysis and evaluted the values and trends properly.

If you are considering selling your property this year and moving up to something better, I would be pleased to meet with you and discuss your needs.

Will this year be OWE 8 for Toronto Real Estate?

We are bombarded with information and headines, they are not necessarily reflective of the real facts. A TEASER ad that ran on the CTV National News talked about the 39% drop in real estate in the Toronto Market.

BUT... the drop was in sales activity, not the prices in that same year over year period.
While materially correct, this follows on the heels of the stockmarket adjustments that happened in October. With a Canadian and American election within weeks of each other, everyone held their collective breath.

Lets examine the individual statistics.
The Greater Toronto Area resale housing market reported 5,155 sales in October, Toronto Real Estate Board President Maureen O’Neill announced today.This represents a 35 per cent decline from the 7,915 sales reported in October 2007 and a 25 per cent decrease from the 6,876 transactions that took place during the same period two years ago. The article continues with... In the City of Toronto, the current average price of a home is $376,896, down 13 per cent from. Complete details available here.

What about the Canadian Real Estate Association for the same time period. What are they comparing? Their stats give the average sale for September 08 as $368,945 as compared to September 07 at $380,132. The real number here is an average decline of 3.15% year over year.
Are we alone?

I looked for source for Vancouver Real Estate information and found that their market is even more volitile than the local Toronto market. Their BOOM Market has been fed with construction for the Olympics.

"Residential benchmark prices, as calculated by the MLSLink Housing Price Index, declined 8.8% between May and October 2008, resulting in a 3.9% year to date price reduction for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver between October 2007 and 2008. In May 2008 the overall residential benchmark price was $568,411, compared to $518,668 in October 2008."

”Home sales are not keeping pace with the positive economic conditions in BC”, said REBGV president Dave Watt.” That’s a direct result of a loss of consumer confidence in the overall market. Accordingly, today’s housing market is characterized by moderating home prices and wide selection. It’s definitely a buyer’s market.
Residential property sales in Greater Vancouver declined 55% in October’08 to 1,364 from 3,028 sales recorded in October’07.
I whole heartedly agree with the President of the Vancouver Real Estate Board, in believing that we have moved firmly into a Buyers Market.
The inventory supply (number of listings) available in Toronto has not skyrocketed into the stratosphere, and although the pundits do profess it is still a safe time to buy, the hesitation created by FUD is tangible.
This last weekend while open housing, I noticed a refreshing sense of cautious optimism that was not visible in October. Maybe I'm just a glass half full person.
Your comments are always invited. If you are considering buying or selling in the next few months, I would be pleased to meet and discuss your situation.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Neighbourhood Profile - The Junction

Up Coming Neighbourhoods

Last night I had the pleasure to attend the Junction Residents Association bi monthly meeting. This is relatively new group that has formed in the Junction Triangle of West Toronto in addition to the Local BIA (Business Improvement Association).

This meeting was organized, orderly, enthusiastic and informative. Held at the grass roots level of homeowners, the group is focused on their own neighbourhood issues that deal with parking, continued expansion (future development) Parks and playgrounds, shrinking school funding and boundary issues. They had considered their target audience well, in that they had provided a staff of five for child care during the meeting and served a lovely refreshment station for those needing a bite after work.

The group quickly identified those with specific skills, experience and connections to; develop Historic Building Status for certain properties with the neighbourhood, support and a voice at Queens Park was provided by Cheri DiNovo MPP Parkdale High Park.

In the never ending world of Rules and Regulations, a surprising voice appeared from the audience, with the attendance of the President of the Bloor West Village Residents Association, Greg Hamara, that offered experiences drawn from the (BWVRA) in drafting bylaws, and an invitation to work jointly with other groups that share a common goal.

The West End of Toronto resident associations encompass a number of smaller groups that are unifying under programs that apply to all of them, and are joining their efforts where applicable. I was delighted to learn that the Swansea Residents Group and Roncesvalles-MacDonnell were also included.

The conclusion and observation to this, is the unification and focus of groups, at the local level attracting guest speakers of profile, Local Politicians for their all candidate debates and a well needed concern to have their neighbourhood voice heard in a large evolving multi-cultural mosaic that is Toronto.

Kudos to the Junction Residents Association for their efforts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 updates Toronto Homes

As a follow up to previous posts that commented on the functionality of the website the following was received from CREA.

Please be advised that the MLS(r) and Technology Council (MTC) has approved several changes for the website.

Effective November 20th, the existing zoom level restriction will be removed. This was originally installed to avoid situations where a property not displaying an address could still be located on the maps. This is now much less of a concern, because 85% of all properties now allow for display of address.

Elimination of the zoom level restriction will also resolve some consumer complaints. For example, some result displays now show only the "500 property" warning simply because there are too many properties in the area selected, even if it is the lowest current zoom level. The change will mean users can zoom in as close as they want to view the listings they want.
This change will also resolve the complaint of the map continuously zooming in and out. This occurs because the visitor has selected the lowest possible zoom level, but keeps trying to go lower.

Work also continues on implementing neighbourhood or MLS(r) zone identification for the "text" search, which has become a popular search tool for website visitors. This means, for example, they can simply put "Parkdale" in the Location box on the front page, and the interactive mapping will automatically take them to that part of Calgary. Since October 2nd more than 3,500 of these areas have been identified and added to the database, including the previous Board MLS(r) system zone ID (W 13 for Toronto as an example).

We need the help of all local real estate Boards and Associations to verify that the zones are correct, and take visitors to the correct area. In the world of interactive mapping, each neighbourhood or area needs an X and Y coordinate and a correct zoom level for the map to be effective. For additional information, please contact the CREA Help Desk.

CREA also continues to work on making the site compatible with MACs, and Firefox browsers.
Based on member and user feedback, the MTC is also reviewing some usability an design options. These are being tested with consumers they effectively address identified navigation or usability issues. This includes complaints that photos are too small, the thumbnail information is not sufficient, and listings are too hard to find. Changes affecting these features will be implemented as soon as possible. We’ll provide updates on any proposed changes.

Do you want access to the other 15 % of the listings?

The reality is that professional realtors have access to a database that is larger and faster to search through. Register your search criteria on a DREAM Home Finder Page, or register as a VIP Buyer to gain access to the database.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

GTA Resale Market Continues to Reflect Economic Times

GTA Resale Housing Market Continues to Reflect Economic Times
TORONTO, November 5, 2008 -- The Greater Toronto Area resale housing market reported 5,155 sales in October, Toronto Real Estate Board President Maureen O’Neill announced today.
This represents a 35 per cent decline from the 7,915 sales reported in October 2007 and a 25 per cent decrease from the 6,876 transactions that took place during the same period two years ago.

In the City of Toronto, there were 2,136 sales, with sales activity down 38 per cent from the 3,455 transactions recorded last October.

In the 905 Region 3,019 sales were recorded, with sales activity down 32 per cent from a year ago when 4,460 homes changed hands.

With 68,570 transactions to date this year, sales are within 16 per cent of the 81,563 transactions noted a year ago. The 2007 market referred to was a record breaking year with each month breaking records for the entire year. Putting into perspective 2008 figures are indicative of a return to a more balanced market.

In the City of Toronto 27,324 sales year-to-date are within 18 per cent of the 33,441 transactions recorded last year at this time.

In the 905 Region the 41,246 sales to date are within 14 per cent of the 48,122 homes that changed hands up to this point a year ago.

In the City of Toronto, the current average price of a home is $376,896, down 13 per cent from last October’s average of $434,022 and within three per cent of the October 2006 average of $386,807.

In the 905 Region homes are selling for an average price of $336,049, a decline of eight per cent from October 2007’s average of $364,142. Prices in this area however, remain one per cent higher than the October 2006 average of $332,822.

Sign up to site to receive entire uneditted report via your email address.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Agent should never brush off the need for a survey

Nathan Vlahos and his wife are about to become first-time homebuyers. They are looking for a home between Richmond Hill and Newmarket and have selected a local real estate agent to help in their search.

Vlahos describes himself as a faithful reader of this column. He wrote me recently to say that he is puzzled because the advice he is getting from his own real estate agent and two others that he met conflicts with what I have repeatedly said in this column.

When Vlahos and his wife first interviewed their agent, they asked her to comment on my columns stating that the land survey is the single most important document in any real estate transaction. A survey shows the dimensions of the lot, the location of the house on the land and other features like rights of way.

"We were told," Vlahos wrote in his letter to me, "that no one she (the agent) had dealt with had ever insisted on having a recent survey," and that "it wasn't as serious a matter to her as having a home inspector."

Vlahos then attended two open houses in Newmarket and at both locations he said the agent on duty told him that "surveys were not too important as long as we got title insurance."
Vlahos said the two open house agents felt I was "hyping matters up too much for an issue that is really not that serious."

"Whose expertise do we trust?" he wrote. Vlahos gave me permission to respond to him in print. In my view, real estate agents who give the advice that Vlahos received do not belong in the profession and are leaving themselves wide open to litigation and professional discipline.
For example, look at the published decision of a discipline hearing of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) against Richard Lowes on July 29, 2003. The discipline committee found that he acted in an unprofessional manner for, among other things, failing to make the purchase offer conditional on approval of the survey, and failing to advise the buyer to have an expert review the survey if he was not capable.

Lowes was found to have breached the RECO code of ethics and fined $3,000, plus $1,350 costs.
A review of reported court decisions in recent years highlights a number of horror stories that went to court because of the lack of a survey. A few examples are:
  • A purchaser who built a house on the wrong lot.
  • A purchaser who thought he was getting an adjoining garage and laneway but was entitled to neither.
  • A purchaser who thought his lot was 10 feet wider than it really was, and built five feet of his new house on the neighbour's property.
  • A buyer whose cottage was located 95 per cent on land he didn't own.
  • Buyers who had to alter their renovation plans because they discovered a sewer easement across the front yard after closing.
Over the years, I have personally encountered numerous other examples of cases where the lack of a survey caused, or almost caused, serious problems.

Some real estate agents promote the incorrect view that title insurance eliminates the need for a survey – technically known as a surveyor's real property report.

William O'Hara and Anna Husa are lawyers at Gardiner Roberts LLP in Toronto. They recently published an article entitled "A Place For Everything and Everything in Its Place – Why title insurance cannot take the place of a survey." It is referenced at on the page for William O'Hara. (
The authors conclude "title insurance is not a substitute for a survey prepared by a professional land surveyor." They are "both important parts of a real estate transaction."

I couldn't agree more. Perhaps it's time for RECO to get serious about protecting the public and require land surveys in every transaction.

Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer. He can be reached by email at, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818. Visit the column archives at for articles on this and other topics.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Neighbour next door...

Here is an issue that bares some thought and discussion;

If you are a homeowner and your neighbour causes damage or injury to your property, under Canadian Law there is recourse under the provisions of nuisance.

Let us suppose that you have a condo for sale, but you are unable to find a suitable buyer because the adjoining unit owners are heavy smokers. The smells seem to eminate thru the walls and into your unit. Prospective unit Buyers have entered and left; saying that, the odors are the reason they would not buy your unit.

If you sold at a loss (compared to recent sales) or a lesser amount, Is there tangible loss to seek damages from the neighbour? How would you prove your damages? Does the Condominium Corporation share in this liablility?

I would be interested to view the comments and perspectives.