Friday, February 29, 2008

Canadian women homebuyers....... Survey says..

Poll shows major regional differences in buying, selling patterns for Canadian women homeowners

- Vancouverites much more likely to buy condos than houses
- Calgary and Edmonton women split between houses, condos
- Toronto women twice as likely to buy condo than house
- Family support strong for first time purchasers

TORONTO, Feb. 29 /CNW/ - What type of home the individual female
homeowner chooses to buy varies widely by region, according to a national poll
by TD Canada Trust. Yet wherever they live, the support they receive from
family is very strong.
When it comes to condominium versus house as a purchase, condos come out
ahead on a national basis. 42% of poll respondents choose them compared with
34% for houses. On a regional basis:

Almost three-in-four Vancouver women buyers (73%) purchased a
condominium; 11% a house.

  • In Calgary and Edmonton, the condo/house choice was evenly split,
    with 31% opting for condos and 33% for houses.
  • 64% of Prairie women (residents of Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon)
    bought a house as their most recent home purchase. Only 26% bought a
  • In Toronto, 52% opted for condos and 25% for houses.
  • 41% of Montreal women poll respondents bought a house. 35% bought a
  • 57% of Atlantic women chose a house; only 5% bought condos.

"When we see that Vancouver women homebuyers are far more likely to buy a
condo than women in Atlantic Canada, it becomes clear that price and
availability are major decision factors," says Joan Dal Bianco, Vice
President, Real Estate Secured Lending. "It would seem that Canadian women are
making primarily economic, market-driven decisions regarding the type of home
they will live in, rather than basing their decision on maintenance, security
or other factors."

The poll, conducted in the first two weeks of this year by Ipsos Reid,
was among women aged 20 to 45 who have purchased a home as an individual
rather than jointly with a spouse or common law partner. Among this group, the
average age at which they purchased their first home is 29 years. 82% are
single, 80% have no children and 49% have a university degree. The vast
majority (86%) still live in the last home they purchased and have made only
one home purchase as an individual (81%).

When asked how they would characterize the support they received from
their family when they told them they were buying their first home as
individuals, three-in-four women (74%) across Canada say their family was
"very supportive". Only 7% indicate the family was "not very supportive" or
"not at all supportive".

When asked what would motivate them to sell their home, the reasons vary
across the country. "Trading up to a better home" is the top reason on a
national basis, with half of women (50%) mentioning it. Regionally, Vancouver
and Atlantic women are the most inclined to be motivated by trading up (60%
each). Montreal women the least inclined (41%).

Across the country, "getting married" was fifth on a list of the top six
reasons for selling one's home, with 29% of poll respondents. Women in Toronto
(41%), Calgary/Edmonton (40%) and the Prairies (38%) are somewhat more
inclined than the national average to cite marriage as a reason to sell. In
Montreal, only one-in-ten women (11%) say marriage; in Atlantic Canada, it is
one-in-five (20%).

"These poll findings portray a young, independent, financially savvy
woman homeowner," concludes Dal Bianco. "This is a revolution that will likely
change the face of Canadian housing."

The online survey was conducted among 713 women living in major
metropolitan areas across Canada and reflects the population of Canadian women
in these areas aged 20-45 according to 2006 Census data. The margin of error
for the total sample is +/-3.7%, 19 times out of 20.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Housing market 'cooling'

Homeowners can't expect double-digit gains in value of property, Scotiabank economist says

Toronto will see fewer bidding wars in the next year or two as the housing market cools and affordability pinches budgets, according to a new economic forecast issued today.

Homeowners in the Toronto area can no longer expect double-digit gains in the value of their homes, according to Adrienne Warren, senior economist for Scotiabank. "It's going to be a good year, but not a great year in the Canadian housing market," she said at a conference in Toronto.
"We're not going to see the same tight conditions that we have seen in recent years. There is certainly is a lot more supply out there right now. We would say for consumers to look for buying opportunities. The market is cooling off as a result of the slowing economy and reduced affordability."

Warren said that price increases for Toronto are forecast to average in the 3.5 per cent area while the main centre of strength continues to be in the western provinces.
"We're not going to see 10 per cent-plus price increases every year," Warren said. "Things will probably be cooling off for the next few years."

Canada's housing boom, which is going into its 10th year, has been the longest and strongest of the post-war era, according to Warren. The market in Toronto will likely turn into a buyer's market by 2009, according to the forecast. Forecasters believe the Canadian market peaked in the last quarter of 2007.

The report says part of the cause is declining affordability - especially for first-time buyers. But there are also risks associated with the U.S. slowdown.

"There could be an economic spillover from the U.S.," said Warren. "The risk is that we see a bigger slowdown in the U.S. in the coming year as a result of the weakening of the housing market and to some extent in consumer spending."

Ontario and Quebec appear most vulnerable, because of their reliance on manufacturing. But despite the U.S. conditions, the risks are low that this country will see the steep price declines currently being experienced across the U.S., according to Warren.

For one thing, Canadian households are generally not over-leveraged, something the U.S. sub-prime mortgages helped encourage south of the border. arren says that Canadian households have little direct exposure to the sub-prime lending crisis, which has led to the downturn in the U.S. Sub-prime mortgage activity accounts for more than 20 per cent of mortgages in the U.S., but only about 5 per cent of the mortgage market in Canada.

"Inventories of unsold homes, including condominiums, in Canada's major centres are well contained," the author said. Warren pointed out that new mortgage products with extended amortization periods, which effectively lower monthly payments, appear to be a key factor in the ongoing demand. Toronto Star

While this is being circulated by the Toronto Star, we have had an unseasonably colder and snowier winter that has kept people inside. Demand for Neighbourhoods like The Kingsway and Markland woods will indeed push for more multiple offer situations, as more buyers are seeking the same properties.

Here are a few tips about dealing with Multiple Offer Situations and ediquette.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Holmes turns nightmare into dream home

Owners saved from 'contaminated' project
Kerry Moore, The ProvincePublished: Sunday, February 24, 2008
Last year, Mike Holmes received 65,000 letters pleading for his help.

Holmes of HGTV's Holmes on Homes turns his critical eye on home renovations in his weekly series. Of those 65,000 sad cases, he says, "only 13 or 14 make it to the small screen."

The process of selection, he explains, ends up with his staff going to a handful of homes and videotaping the interior and exterior. From what he sees on tape, he says, he chooses "according to how much the owners need me and how much audiences can learn by seeing it on television."

The burly, no-nonsense Holmes was in town last week to receive an honorary doctorate from the B.C. Institute of Technology for his work in improving the building trades.
The Province caught up with him, on his cellphone, while he was taking a tour of BCIT's facilities.
There's a kind of "tell," he says, when he tours horror-homes. "If you see sloppy finishing you can guess that there's also trouble underneath."

On Feb. 28, one of the worst situations Holmes has encountered is the subject of a two-hour HGTV special. "I knew there was big trouble when I first saw the house. I was still in my truck in the driveway and the husband and wife were standing there crying. . . ."

At that time, he says, they were just begging to get an occupancy permit to move back in. "I told them it couldn't be saved."

Holmes doesn't mince words when talking about this home's "so-called renovator/contractor."
"He 'liened' them for $343,000 on top of the $219,000 initial cost. I've never seen anything so contaminated."

After satisfying legal concerns, the Etobicoke, Ont., house was levelled and Holmes started building the new house, calling the project "Lien on Me." In the process, he took the opportunity to build not only a solid house but a remarkable one.

"The (Feb. 28) show featuring this house will knock you off your feet. It was lots of work and time and money, but we put it all together -- it's energy-efficient beyond anything out there.
"Over the years I've seen the different shades of "green" efforts in making houses energy-wise. What we have done is put them all together."

Holmes says he chose to educate himself on what technologies were available before working with the architect. The knowledge and the products are all out there, he says, and it will get easier to find them and apply them.

"I say to people who want these innovations -- and I hope you do -- that if something goes wrong, you can't get an average contractor to fix it." When they are installed, he says, get a list of people to call for assistance. "Whatever you do, don't play with them."
Or you may find yourself writing a begging letter to Mike Holmes.

One person can make a difference. I have been asking the Toronto Real Estate Board and RECO to provided seminars on the Contractors Construction Lien Act for Realtors to assist clients. When commiting to a job get a contract in writing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A bold idea for Lakeview Generating Plant

For decades, the smokestacks of the Lakeview coal-powered electric plant towered over the shores of Lake Ontario just west of Port Credit, a standing testament to a gritty industrial heritage.

The stacks came down a few years ago with a dramatic thud and a cloud of dust, preceded by the departure of old industries that had grown around it. The closing of the plant also left in its wake a sprawling landscape in transition, the size of the CNE and Ontario Place combined. Much of it is publicly owned.

Into that vacuum – which includes talk that a natural gas-powered plant could replace the coal – has stepped an intrepid group of residents who say their long-suffering neighbourhood deserves better.

Rather than complain, they've taken the offensive, using the power of Google Earth and complex mapping information, only recently available publicly, to come up with a unique, citizen-driven planning model they will unveil to Mississauga council on Wednesday.

Their goal is the creation of a "destination" landscape – which does not contain a power plant. If embraced by council and the province, the proposal would redraw one of the biggest pieces of waterfront left in the Greater Toronto Area – more than 200 hectares largely ignored by planners and government.

It also could serve as a model for neighbourhood activism, and the idea that citizens can successfully band together and tell city hall what it should do. In this case, it is the 800-member Lakeview Ratepayers' Association, led by carpenter Jim Tovey, which has been working on it for more than two years.

"This really is one of those rare opportunities every 100 years in land development where there is a chance to revision the area and where ideas can come forward," says John Danahy, a University of Toronto professor of landscape architecture who was inspired by his neighbour Tovey to take charge of the plan. "This is a pregnant moment."

With the click of a mouse, Danahy shows what the lands south of Lakeshore Rd. between Cawthra and Dixie Rds., could accommodate.

Comfortable now with planning jargon like "intensification, smart growth" and "live-work", the duo marvel at their ability to redraw entire neighbourhoods with a laptop on a kitchen table – thanks in part to Danahy's contacts at U of T and the increasing accessibility of complex data and mapping systems.

Click, and Danahy has added a row of trees along Lakeshore that take into account actual square footage and setbacks. Click, and perfectly proportioned two- to three-storey apartments appear – a preferable alternative to a canyon of condominium towers along the street, he says.
Another click, and beyond the boulevard sprout 12-storey apartment buildings, the dense core he says will provide the population base – doubling from the current 20,000 – to support public transit.

Then he shows where a waterfront walking trail could be built. For good measure, he models the physical imprint of Chicago's famed Navy Pier along the old channel where the coal for the plant used to be shipped in, just to show it can be done.

Still clicking his mouse, Danahy models the outlines of Toronto's Distillery District on the footprint of the older power plant and it fits perfectly. He points the cursor to the water surrounding the plant, which because it is protected by a breakwater, could easily become an ice-skating canal. He throws in an aquarium, a stadium. The possibilities keep unfolding all within an area that is still bordered by the region's waste water and water treatment plants.
"People have no idea how big it is and how much it can accommodate," says Danahy, who adds that the key is the ability to translate ideas into images that people – and planners – can understand.

"Most people don't relate to plans and cryptic diagrams of planners. That's very abstract for people to know in any real, explicit way what they would mean to them."
"This could be the poster child for the smart growth plans of the province," adds Tovey excitedly. "The idea has come out of the community. We have had to carry the awareness of the potential to the professionals."

Tovey says Lakeview has had more than its fair share of industrial use, pointing out that as well as belching coal smoke, it was also home to Canada's first aerodrome, a weapons training ground, barracks and armament factories during World War II.

Over the past 20 years, the neighbourhood – still a jumble of low-lying former industrial buildings – has evolved from an industrial base to new ad hoc retail and other uses.
"These are not the highest and best uses of employment lands (so close to the lake)," says Tovey, pointing out a wedding hall, a bait shop, a meat shop and a limousine rental place.
Whether the association's plan goes anywhere rests in events that begin to unfold after Wednesday's presentation to council – the culmination of almost two years of work by residents.
That's when Councillor Carmen Corbasson plans to introduce a motion asking the province not to put a natural gas-powered electrical plant on the waterfront lands.

Should the province agree, the fact that Ontario Power Generation, the Crown corporation that generates electricity in Ontario, owns about 80 hectares of the land could stand in the residents' favour. The OPG parcel could become the critical piece of land for any redevelopment because it is large enough.

A significant remaining chunk consists of the waste water and water treatment plant lands owned by the Region of Peel that bookend the Lakeview lands, and which residents say could be incorporated to form the lakefront walking trail and some green space by the lake. Taken together, it means much of Lakeview is already under public ownership and wouldn't have to be expropriated.

"They are certainly doing their homework," says Corbasson, echoing a favourite phrase of the city's Mayor Hazel McCallion. "They (the residents) have looked at it upside down and backwards and forwards. They know every inch of the hundreds of acres."
"It's citizen engagement I welcome," says the councillor. She adds she's been told there is the potential for almost $2 billion worth of development in Lakeview.

Crucial to any redevelopment would be a zoning change from utility to mixed-use. Council reaffirmed the existing utility zoning last year but Corbasson says they still have until the end of this year to change that.

Several councillors have indicated they are willing to listen the Lakeview Residents Association's proposal.

As to how such a project can be achieved, Danahy and Tovey say a public-private consortium of landowners could move the project ahead by agreeing on a general development plan. That was the case in the Forks redevelopment in Winnipeg, where a "destination" area similar to Toronto's Distillery District evolved on former rail lands. Another model would be for the provincial government to take leadership and gradually release the OPG lands as they were needed for redevelopment.

"The only fly in the ointment is the ultimate decision for the location of the power plant will be up to the province," Corbasson says. Ed Sajecki, Mississauga's commissioner of planning, has seen the association's computer model but is remaining noncommittal until council deals with the issue.

"We are awaiting the plans from the province and OPG," Sajecki says, adding that any council decision to change the zoning would be an "unusual and major change."

"Council can always look at its official plan, that's their prerogative," he says, although he points out that power generation is considered a "need" across the GTA.

The Liberal government's commitment to close coal-fired generating plants like Lakeview has added to a growing energy crunch. It's why the province has moved ahead with a controversial plan to build a 550-megawatt natural gas-powered plant on Toronto's Portlands district.
Tovey and Danahy refuse to consider the possibility that after living beside a coal-powered plant, they will now have to deal with a natural gas-powered facility.

For now they are more concerned about the next step of their quixotic quest as they prepare for Wednesday's council meeting.

"We have the Grade 7 and 8 classes coming to council from Byngmount Beach Public school," Tovey says. "Some of these children were in attendance when the premier made his announcement of the closing of the Lakeview Generating Station from the school in 2005.
"If council adopts the concept of our legacy plan, it will transform Mississauga in much the same way putting city hall in a cornfield on Highway 10 did 21 years ago".

This is an incredible opportunity to shape the lake front at Brown's Line 427 at Lakeshore, Go Transit and the TTC are at the doorstep with reasonable access to downtown Toronto or Mississauga.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

So Many people in real estate now


Despite the increased competition in the market, more and more people want to become licensed real estate agents.

» The Real Estate Council of Ontario, or RECO, the regulating body for agents in Ontario, says there has been a 20 per cent overall increase in the number of registrants in Ontario since 2005, with the agency processing more than 400 applications for new registrations each month. In 2003, there were about 300 new applications per month processed by the agency.

In 2005, Ontario had 40,665 registrants with 11,675 of those coming from Toronto (M postal codes) and 26,792, which included Toronto and Brampton, Durham, Mississauga, Oakville, Milton, Orangeville, and York. In 2007, Ontario had 49,429 registrants with 12,472 of those coming from Toronto (M postal codes) and 29,222, which included Toronto and Brampton, Durham, Mississauga, Oakville, Milton, Orangeville, and York.

As of Feb. 1, 50,000 agents were registered with RECO in Ontario. » An increase can also been seen (in the past three years) in memberships with the Toronto Real Estate Board: 2005 – 22,953; 2006 – 24,894; 2007-26,861; 2008 – a further 185, taking the total number close to 27,046.

» ReMax says it has 8,540 agents in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. (nationally 17,600).
In 2007, of the 751 agents it added to its roster, 445 were in the Ontario-Atlantic region, which was the largest growth for ReMax globally last year. As well, in 2006, of the 1,200 new agents, 650 were from the Ontario-Atlantic area. This region has been growing by 400 to 600 agents on average per year, with growth ranging from 5 per cent to 10 per cent over 10 years.
Sources: Real Estate Council of Ontario, Toronto Real Estate Board, ReMax Rakshande Italia

Having had a carreer in corporate finance on Bay Street, I have thrived on the flexible schedule capability of being in real estate yet I am determined to be a valued asset and resources to my clients. Many now are looking for advise in dealing with parents, their homes, and elder care. each situation requires tact and patience. It's interesting to see my clients children now buying their first home.

With almost 20 years of real estate experience in the Toronto West Market, I must always upgrade my skills to meet the market's expectations. This now includes a strong website presence, innovative presentations via email and video marketing. The market requires a balance of doing it quickly, getting the best price, or doing the cheapest possible. In life, as with many things, usually you have to settle for two out of three.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is this the year to upgrade homes?

Toronto Real Estate Board reports sales near 3,000 at mid-month

February 20, 2008 -- Resale home transactions in the Greater Toronto Area declined in the first two weeks of February, Toronto Real Estate Board President Maureen O’Neill announced today.
The first half of the month yielded 2,775 transactions, down 14 per cent from the 3,240 sales recorded in the same timeframe last year. The moderation in sales was more pronounced within the City of Toronto--down 18 per cent to 1,066 from last February’s 1,308—than in the 905 suburbs, which saw transactions off 11 per cent.

“It’s important to recognize that the mid-month report provides an indication of market conditions based on a very brief period,” said Ms. O’Neill.

“However, we believe the harsh winter weather we’ve experienced in the early part of the month has had a negative impact on both sales and inventory levels. If you can’t get buyers out to your open house, then you are less inclined to list. And fewer listings means less appealing product for the potential home-buyer. It’s a compound effect.”

Although sales eased, several positive factors were also noted. At $385,735, the average price in the GTA rose seven per cent compared to $358,533 recorded in mid-February 2007. Within the City of Toronto, the average rose 11 per cent to $434,657, although pockets within the East end (Agincourt, for example) rose at the more affordable pace of around five per cent. As well, properties are remaining on the market fewer days.

The average number of days on market is currently 31 versus 35 days at the same time last year.

Furthermore, a few neighborhoods both within and outside of the 416 area code saw increased sales over the first half of February, 2007.

In Ajax (E14) sales were up 11 per cent compared to mid-February 2007, based mainly on an increase in detached home sales.

In the West region, the W3 (York South) district saw a 41 per cent increase in transactions, driven by strong sales of semi-detached homes.

Central Richmond Hill (N04) also experienced a notable increase in sales compared to the same timeframe last year. Transactions were up 21 per cent, primarily due to an increase in attached row sales.

“We are optimistic that we will see a strong spring market because the economic fundamentals remain in place,” said Ms. O’Neill. “Prices are still particularly affordable in Toronto’s East end.”

On the same day RE/MAX released a Decade report thats looks at major Canadian cities and their growth in real estate values.

I invite you to email me, your thoughts on How the Miller Tax (Toronto LTT) will impact Toronto sales, The BC Carbon Tax (only 2 cents per liter now) imposed on fuels, that may spread across Canada as a green tax and what is seen on our media as a North American Economic overview of slowing sales in general.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Top 10 bathroom renovation tips

Consider some important points before updating the look of your bathroom.
An effective bathroom design should address all your needs, physical and spiritual. Here are the most important tips to consider when considering bathroom renovations.

1 Choose elegant fixtures.A pedestal sink with graceful lines is more attractive than a blocky cabinet vanity. A classic claw-foot tub is like bathroom sculpture. Even enclosed in a deck, the simple lines of the lip have an inherent beauty that surpasses most acrylic versions.

2 Sit in a bathtub before buying it.Bigger isn't always better. A 60-inch tub is fine for most people. It offers enough room to stretch out and provides a secure foothold, so you don't float into oblivion when the tub is full. Assess the angled back and lip for comfort and neck support -- a tub for two people slants at either end and has taps in the middle. If you only have enough space for a small tub, buy an extra-deep one.
3 Select durable flooring. Ceramic, marble and stone tiles are all excellent durable and water-resistant choices for a bathroom. Subfloor heating coils will make these hard surfaces warm. Well-sealed hardwood floors offer natural warmth and act as a foil for the other hard, cold surfaces in a bathroom.
4 Hang a stylish mirror. One beautifully framed mirror over a sink is more attractive than many surfaces covered with mirror. Supplement it with a wall-mounted adjustable makeup mirror, and consider installing a lighted, mirrored shaving niche in your shower stall.
5 Use found space. Take advantage of space between wall studs by recessing a tall storage cabinet into the wall to maximize vertical storage while saving floor space. The cabinet should have an interior depth of at least three inches and a door flush with the wall.
6 Build a shower area. Consider building an open-concept shower area that doesn't need a curtain or door and is less confining than a standard shower stall. In addition to well-designed drainage, a ceiling-mounted rain showerhead and/or a high wall-mounted showerhead that splashes less water will keep the area outside the shower drier.
7 Share space for added function.In homes with back-to-back bathrooms, a shared shower with access doors to each of the bathrooms maximizes limited space. Or turn a closet located next to a bathroom into a small ensuite with access to the neighbouring bath.
8 Design lighting that works. Good lighting is imperative. Combine halogen pot lights with wall sconces beside or over the mirror for lighting with no shadows. Always install dimmers.
9 Buy a quality toilet.When buying a toilet, it's not necessary for you to spend big bucks, but you don't want to scrimp too much, either. You can get a good-quality one-piece toilet for about $400. Models with elongated bowls and seats are usually most comfortable.
10 Incorporate luxury into your room. If you're fortunate enough to have lots of space to work with, indulge yourself with an expanded spalike bathroom that includes a dressing room -- a haven for privacy and relaxation. Outfit it with a television, fireplace, exercise equipment, makeup vanity and even a large comfortable occasional chair upholstered in thick white terry-cloth.

Council approves community consultation on project's site plan

A 10-storey condominium proposed to be built on The Old Mill's upper parking lot got the green light this week despite opposition by residents' groups.

The Etobicoke York Community Council voted Tuesday night to grant Old Mill owners Official Plan and zoning amendments to build an 84-unit condo with a four-storey underground garage with 218 parking spaces.

"I appreciate people's dislike, but this type of application is not dealt with lightly by staff or council," said local Ward 5 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) Councillor Peter Milczyn, after 13 residents addressed the committee in opposition to the project.

Councillors adopted Milczyn's amendments to permit community consultation on the project's site plan - not normally a public process - for landscaping and streetscaping to address traffic safety concerns, as well as the detailed design of ecological features.

Santek Investments Inc., which represents The Old Mill owners, want to build the condo in part to resolve its longstanding parking shortage. During peak periods, patrons routinely park on Old Mill Road, and in neighbouring parking lots.

Opponents charge that granting approval to change the city ravine-protected site's OP designation from "Parks and Open Space Areas - Natural Areas" to "Apartment Neighbourhood" could threaten ravines across the city.

"If the city continues to violate the spirit and intent of the Official Plan then the Official Plan will stand for nothing," said John Boudreau of Old Millside Residents' Association, an area located on the east side of the Humber River.

"It will be open season on ravines across the City of Toronto." Madeleine McDowell, representing the Humber Heritage Committee and the Swansea Historical Society, defended the Humber River Valley. "'Open Space' is not empty waiting to be filled," she said. "This is not in the common good of the people. The valley is the neighbourhood, much more than Bloor Street."
But commenting agency Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and councillors disagreed.
The application met two TRCA tests: it demonstrated no risk of flooding on the site or adjacent sites, and actually would replace a parking lot on 3,500-square metres with 10,000 square metres of plantings down the river valley, Steven Heuchert, TRCA's manager of development planning and regulation said yesterday in an interview.

"In an ideal world both of the parking lots would be reverted back to green space," Heuchert said. "You would replace the development impacts there now, due to the parking lots, with a forest lot or wetland habitat.

"But realistically, that's not going to happen... We try to get the best we can, while ensuring our basic principles are covered."

Boudreau questioned why city staff and councillors defend the Official Plan on some applications, and not others.

Recently, the city and a Kingsway residents' group fought - and lost - an Ontario Municipal Board battle over Dunpar Developments Inc.'s proposed seven-storey condominium in an area where the Dundas West Avenue Study dictates five storeys. The project also included the purchase of three neighbourhood houses.

The two applications represent completely different planning contexts, Milczyn said.
"While (Dunpar's application) was about an extra floor and pushing the building of a few houses into the neighbourhood, the next application might want to take more houses out of the neighbourhood, might want more extra floors or several buildings with several extra floors.
"Over time, it could result in hundreds and hundreds of extra units, and a completely different look to that area rather than what the vision was," Milczyn said in an interview Wednesday, adding it has implications for how other avenue studies across Toronto might be treated.
By comparison, The Old Mill condo decision isn't likely to have a domino effect on other city ravines, Milczyn said.

"The Old Mill application is one single, unique, isolated site," he said. "What happens on that doesn't really set a precedent for any neighbouring sites, additional sites along the Humber (River) and likely not on any or many sites anywhere else within the city."

BY TAMARA SHEPHARD February 14, 2008 03:43 PM

Saturday, February 9, 2008

House must be completely empty when sale closes

Seller's belongings must be gone from moment keys are handed over Bob Aaron

It's a question virtually every homebuyer asks: When do I get my keys? The answer usually is that the keys are released when the seller's lawyer receives the money and the buyer's lawyer registers the deed.

Getting vacant possession of the house or condo, however, is another story. In theory, at the moment the buyer receives the keys and registers the deed, the home belongs to him or her, and it should be empty. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.

I'm grateful to my colleague Merv Burgard in London, Ont., for bringing to my attention a 15-year-old court decision that seems to answer the difficult question of whether the home has to be totally empty at the moment the buyer gets the keys.

Roger Foord was moving from Toronto to London, and retained a lawyer there to represent him. At 3:09 p.m. on Jan. 16, 1992, the London lawyer closed the purchase of Foord's house on Glenora Dr.

That purchase and sale was part of a chain reaction, which is typical when a series of buyers and sellers all want to close on the same day.

When Malcolm and Bessie Smith, the sellers of Foord's house, received the closing funds, their lawyer immediately used the money to close their own purchase.

Three hours after the transaction closed, Foord's movers arrived at the Glenora Dr. house with a truck full of household goods. Unfortunately, the Smiths were still in the process of moving out and the house was not empty.

The movers waited for the better part of three hours, but the house was still not empty. They returned to Toronto since they needed the truck there the following day.

Finally, on the following Monday, the movers were able to return with Foord's possessions and move him into the house. For the second trip, the movers billed him an additional $1,393.91. On top of that, Foord incurred hotel and other expenses totalling $401.55.

He sued the sellers for his losses, and the case came up for trial in Small Claims Court in London in September 1993.

The judge succinctly set out the main issue of the case, which was when vacant possession is to be given to purchasers in residential real estate transactions.

Standard-form real estate agreements provide that vacant possession is to be given on closing. In other words, when the seller gets the money and the purchaser gets the keys, the house is supposed to be empty.

In court, the sellers' representative argued that vacant possession did not have to be given on closing, and that the vendor was entitled to possession of the property until midnight on that day.

She pointed to a 1985 case of the Ontario High Court, which ruled that if a vendor remained in possession for a few hours after the Land Registry Office closed, it was not a fundamental breach of contract. That ruling was found not to have any bearing on the Foord vs. Smith case.
After considering the evidence and relevant law, the deputy Small Claims Court judge awarded the plaintiff $1,791.18 in damages, plus costs and interest of $685.20.

In making the award, the judge wrote: "It is often that parties are moving in as others are moving out, and most of the time this is done in a co-operative spirit which recognizes the problems inherent (in) moving in and out, along with timing of transactions at the registry office. In almost all cases, the loss would be nil, except for inconvenience. Here, unfortunately, there was loss, and the Smiths must pay Mr. Foord's losses."

The case serves as a useful reminder that at the moment the seller's lawyer receives the purchase money and hands over the keys, the sellers should be completely moved out of the house.

If they aren't out, and the purchaser's movers are charging by the hour, the sellers are going to have to pick up the tab.

Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer whose column appears Saturdays. He can be reached at 416-364-9366, or Visit his website at The

Wonderful and timely advise.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New Year off to a Good Start

February 5, 2008 -- A strong performance within TREB's Central districts drove the Toronto area real estate market to a healthy 5,073 sales in January, off just two per cent from last year's record performance, President Maureen O'Neill announced today.

"While sales were strong, price increases remained modest, with the average rising six per cent to $374,449," said Ms. O'Neill. "There is clearly still a place for the first-time buyer in today's resale market."

Breaking down the total, 1,940 sales were reported in TREB’s 28 West districts and averaged $351,594; 945 sales were reported in the 14 Central districts and averaged $485,259; 966 sales were reported in the 23 North districts and averaged $410,289; and 1,224 sales were reported in TREB’s 21 East districts and averaged $296,838.


There were 647 sales in Mississauga this January, a decline of three per cent over the first month of 2007. The average price came in at $339,655, a one per cent increase over the same time-frame last year. Of these sales, 196 were of detached homes which averaged $516,190, up eight per cent over January '07.

Complete Article

Monday, February 4, 2008

Give Homebuyers a Break

Toronto Land Transfer Tax Takes Effect, REALTORS® Call On City to Give Homebuyers a Break

February 4, 2008 -- With the City of Toronto’s new land transfer tax coming into effect last week, even as City Council considers a property tax increase, Toronto’s REALTORS® are calling for City Council to give homebuyers a break.

“Toronto’s REALTORS® and the public continue to believe that a Toronto land transfer tax is an unfair way for the City to raise revenue,” said Maureen O’Neill. “The City’s land transfer tax took effect last week, even as current and future homeowners face a property tax increase at double the rate of inflation. The City can’t have its cake and eat it too. Homebuyers deserve a break.”

TREB’s statistics of housing sales have shown an interesting trend since City Council’s approval of a Toronto land transfer tax last October. When City Council approved the Toronto land transfer tax, it also decided to exempt home purchases made by December 31, 2007. In both December and November of last year, there was a significant increase in market activity. For example, although the month of December typically sees less market activity because of the holidays, in December 2007 housing sales in Toronto were up by 26 per cent over December 2006, significantly higher than the 6 per cent increase for the GTA as a whole. TREB will be releasing market statistics for January 2008 on February 5.

“Clearly, there has been tremendous market activity in Toronto since Council’s approval of the land transfer tax. Council’s decision to grandfather home purchases made by the end of 2007 means that those homebuyers will avoid the City’s tax,” said O’Neill. “With the City’s grandfathering period over, and the Toronto land transfer tax taking effect last week, we are continuing to watch the market.”

TREB is paying close attention to the City’s 2008 operating budget, which proposes a residential property tax increase of 3.75 per cent, almost double the 2007 average Toronto inflation rate of 1.9 per cent.

“The City can’t keep raising tax after tax on homebuyers. Enough already,” said O’Neill. “The proposed budget released by the City last week is like a weight around the ankle of Toronto taxpayers. The new land transfer tax on top of a proposed property tax increase, at double the rate of inflation, sends the wrong message to homebuyers. The land transfer tax should be rolled back immediately.”

TREB will be providing input to City Council with regard to the City’s 2008 operating budget and hopes that City Council will use it as an opportunity to give homebuyers a break.

“We look forward to working with City Council as they debate the budget. We hope that the panel appointed by Mayor Miller last fall will recommend some real options for savings and that the City will move quickly to prioritize its core services,” said O’Neill. “The Toronto land transfer tax is an unfair way to address the City’s financial challenges. At the very least, we expect it to be rolled back as savings from uploading and other revenue sources are realized, as was approved by City Council last October 22,” said O’Neill.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Municipal Spending is out of control

Even before Toronto announced its latest property tax hikes yesterday, Toronto took the dubious honour for having the highest property taxes in Canada, according to a detailed report issued by the city of Edmonton. Together with Ottawa, Brampton, Hamilton and London, Ontario municipalities take five of the top six spots on the list.

This is something most homeowners in these cities know intuitively every time they pay their tax bill. Now they have it confirmed by an objective report that compared more than 30 municipalities across Canada.

Toronto ranked first with the highest taxes paid at $3,912, followed by Brampton at $3,826. Ottawa was third at $3,532; Hamilton and London were fifth and sixth at $3,305 and $3,078 respectively. St. John's, Newfoundland, deserves credit for taking last place with the lowest average tax at $1,540, and Surrey, BC was second last at $1,814.

This sad but helpful property tax news is timely as city councils across Ontario prepare their budgets. As well, Premier McGuinty's freeze on assessments for homes expired at the beginning of 2008. Not only will tax rates be going up, but for the first time in a few years homeowners will take a second hit if their home value reassessment shows an increase above the average increase. Assessment changes will take effect for 2009 property tax rates.

What is especially helpful about the Edmonton report is that it compares property taxes in a dollar value instead of as a percentage. Some mayors, like Toronto's Mayor Miller, try to defend high property taxes by hiding behind what appears to be a lower rate than other cities. This is hiding because the average value of a home is high in Toronto so the total taxes paid for a Toronto homeowner are higher. When paying taxes one cares less about the rate paid or the details of the complicated formula used. Instead, one cares about how much money is being taken year over year. That is the only comparison relevant to a taxpayer, not whether the rate is 0.82 in one city versus 1.15 in another city.

The main reason for high and growing property taxes in Ontario is that municipal spending is out of control. Municipalities have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. While mayors continue to clamour for more and more money from many sources, their appetites for spending grow unchecked.

Data from Statistics Canada shows that municipal revenue across Ontario has been running at three times the rate of inflation. In 2006 municipal revenue was up 6.3% while inflation was only at 2.0%; in 2005 revenue was up 7.2% and inflation was only 2.2%. Despite Ontario municipal revenues ballooning from higher taxes, more transfers from other levels of government, higher user fees and new taxes in Toronto; mayors continue to complain that they don't have enough.
It is interesting how mayors can work together cooperatively when it comes to demanding transfers from other levels of government or getting new taxing authority from the province. If that same energy were transferred to creating efficiencies and reducing costs, the report out of Edmonton might show a different -and welcome -conclusion.

This is in addition to the New Toronto Land Transfer Tax now in place. A home of $500,000 in Toronto will cost $6,475 Ontario LTT plus $ 5725 In Toronto LTT.
No one wants to kill the construction engine in the South Ontario real estate market but they sure are trying.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

More women buying their own homes

Seven in 10 Canadian women homeowners bought their properties as a "good investment," says a new national poll released today.

The poll by TD Canada Trust, conducted in the first two weeks of this year by Ipsos-Reid, was among women aged 20 to 45 who have purchased a home as an individual rather than jointly with a spouse or common law partner.

Among this group, the average age when they purchased their first home is 29 years - 82 per cent are single, 80 per cent have no children and 49 per cent have a university degree.
The vast majority (86 per cent) still live in the last home they purchased and have made only one home purchase as an individual (81 per cent.)

"With more and more Canadian women marrying later in life or remaining single, we're seeing the emergence of the young, financially savvy woman who's taking on the commitments, joys and responsibilities of owning a home," said Joan Dal Bianco, Vice President, Real Estate Secured Lending for TD Canada Trust.

Respondents indicated their main motivation for buying a home was that it was a good investment (71 per cent), that they didn't want to pay rent anymore (61 per cent) and their desire to get into the housing market (54 per cent).

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) say their biggest worry prior to purchase was the affordability/financial commitment, while half (51 per cent) cited having to assume homeowner responsibilities such as maintenance and a homeowners legal liabilities.

Overall, condominiums are the most popular option for individual women homeowners (42 per cent), followed by houses (34 per cent), townhouses (13 per cent) and duplexes or triplexes (six per cent). Vancouver women, at 73 per cent, are most likely to buy a condo, followed by Toronto women (52 per cent). In Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal, condos and houses have the same appeal to individual women buyers.

"We are witnessing nothing less than a revolution among individual Canadian women," said Dal Bianco. "Right across the country, they are investing in themselves and in their futures by becoming homeowners, and in doing so are strongly reinforcing their financial and personal freedom."

This survey from the Calgary Herald in almost a mirror image of the Vancouver results published in this blog indicating a six in ten buyers were single females.