Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not enough Support for aging Population

In a recent email I received, John Scholl from Investore Group brought this item to my attention;

Although Im a Financial Consultant, I am also associated with the Canadian Initiatives on Elder Planning Studies as an Elder Planning Counselor.  If you dont think this article is appropriate for your website, let me know.  I have others for the aging population as well.

April 30, 2009 
Not enough support for aging populationan article from CanWest News Service

The federal government has been both a leader and a laggard in grappling with the challenges of Canada's rapidly aging population, according to the chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

The committee's final report, tabled on Tuesday, finds "serious gaps" in the health care, housing, transportation and support systems available to the ever-increasing ranks of seniors, and says Canada should be doing more to help them.

"The Canadian government must be a leader and . . . it's doing some of that, but it's also a laggard in its care of seniors," Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs, chair of the committee, told reporters.

The report found that some seniors are living in isolation or inappropriate homes because of inadequate housing or transportation, while income security measures are not meeting the basic needs of the poorest among them. Support for caregivers is insufficient, the committee found, and many Canadians are forced to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for loved ones.

The pressure on the "sandwich generation" of people raising children while caring for aging parents is "horrific," Carstairs said. To that end, the committee advocates a Canada Pension Plan "dropout provision" that would allow those who leave work while caring for seniors to continue contributing to CPP, just as parents who leave work to care for a child do.

Among the report's recommendations are an "aggressive" public relations campaign to promote active aging and combat ageism, which Carstairs said sometimes means self-imposed ageism among seniors themselves.

"They take an attitude that they cannot do certain things because they are of a certain age, their families take an attitude that they cannot do certain things because are of a certain age," she said. "We have to rid ourselves of those stereotypical images, but at the same time we must encourage seniors to be more active so they themselves don't fall victim to their own concept of aging."

The government should help volunteer agencies create a mechanism to reimburse the out-of-pocket expenses for volunteers, the report suggests, as well as considering a tax credit for volunteer work.

The committee also calls on the federal government to take a leadership role in working with the provinces to address public safety and a "dignified" retirement from driving, and recommends the Canadian Institutes of Health Research fund work on mental competency.

"Seniors are often unjustly stripped of their rights because there's insufficient research and understanding about mental competency and mental capacity," Carstairs said.

On the health-care front, the committee advocates a supplementary transfer program to assist provinces and territories with older populations in covering increased health-care needs, as well as more funding to support "telemedicine," which can be used to link specialists or monitor patients with chronic conditions at home.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging was created in November 2006 and charged with examining the implications of an aging society in Canada. In more than two years of consultations with expert panels, questionnaires to seniors' organizations and discussions with citizens across the country, it looked at issues such as promoting active living, housing and transportation needs, financial security and retirement,

abuse, neglect and health care.

The first interim report, Embracing the Challenge of Aging, was released in March 2007, and the second, Issues and Options for an Aging Population, in March 2008.

The committee is disbanding now that it has tabled its report, Carstairs said, but she believes the generation that's driving the aging of Canada's population will ensure that its recommendations are fulfilled.

"We have the baby boomers, who will reach that magical (age of) 65 beginning in a year or two," she said. "They have been the most vocal generation demanding changes, demanding services, demanding appropriate delivery, and I have every hope and belief that they will put the appropriate pressures on government to make sure that the conditions in which they live their senior years are better and more enhanced than those that came before them."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Ultimate Man's Garage

How far would you go to create the ultimate man's garage?  Truly your own space.

As I looked through pictures to add to this piece I found myself silently Grunting Like Tim the Tool Man Taylor. That show still makes me laugh.

What sense of community have we lost by not having a male community to tweek, fuss and tinkering about with our cars in the garage on a Saturday morning.  Fender mats intact with our kids watching and learning, bonding time with Dad.  Has it been lost on an entire generation consumed with video games? 

If you need a place to make friends, rekindle a relationship with past friends or new neighbours maybe the ultimate man's garage is in your future.

1st Choice Garage Outfitters, has been assisting home owners organizing their garages, and adding real selling value to their home at the same time.  I encourage you to visit their website  and learn how easy and cost effective it really is to dress up the garage, before listing it for sale.  Their clients have been telling them how amazed people are when they see the space saving possibilities, as well as how beautiful their garage can really be. With some cabinetry, overhead storage, and wall organizing the garage can soon become the most organized room in the home.  If you throw in some decorative flooring and some accessories and we can make your garage the most interesting room to be in. 

Decorative flooring can be tiles linked together or textured paint. The choices and colours are truly limitless. Racedeck flooring, Epoxy finishes or Locking Tiles.

Sure we could use some shelving and overhead storage. That' s pretty standard stuff. But what about a car lift to stack your prized car out of reach. An actual lift right in your space.

So if you would like a garage updated, I suggest you give them a call or email

If you need a house with a garage attached that is suitable for improvement in the Toronto west (GTA) I would like to hear from you.   Send me an email

Maybe you would like to share your dream of the ultimate man's garage. But, you do know that it is for you and not the resale value or the increased demand it would make for your home.

Sweet Smells of Home Baked Cookies in Bloor West

Sweet Flour Bake Shop, the first customized, made-to-order bakery has sweetened up Toronto’s Bloor West Village, creating an affordable yet decadent experience during a hard-to-swallow economic time. 

Bringing customers back to sweeter days, is Sweet Flour’s founder and cookie-lover Kim Gans, who has created a signature baking process that allows you to design your ideal cookie. The perfect customized cookie is created by choosing from gourmet doughs and over 20 decadent mix-ins.  Customers can watch their cookie being mixed by Sweet Flour staff and get their warm and delicious cookie baked for them in just two minutes. 

“At Sweet Flour Bake Shop, we pay tribute to the cookie,” said Gans.  “There is nothing quite like the decadent goodness of a cookie just out of the oven.  We want everyone to enjoy that simple pleasure that makes you stop to say “Mmm” and savour the moment.” 

Sweet Flour Bake Shop’s warm, inviting atmosphere provides the perfect place for sharing yummy moments with family and friends, or for simply taking a personal moment. 

And the made-to-order cookie is just a morsel of what Sweet Flour offers.  There is something to suit everyone’s taste, including customizable muffin tops, cookie sandwiches and house-made granola.  Supporting local products, Sweet Flour baked goods are made only from the finest fresh ingredients.  Customers can enjoy glass bottled Ontario organic milk and fresh brewed Ideal coffee, a local coffee roaster. 

The delicious freshly baked cookie can be enjoyed in the comfort of Sweet Flour Bake Shop or customers can bring the “yum” home to family and friends – all baked goods are available for grab and go. 

Sweet Flour will add flavour to the Bloor West Village pedestrian promenade when they are serving fresh baked goods through a huge double door that opens the whole storefront at 2352 Bloor Street West.  

For more information, visit

A wonderful treat for your neighbourhood visit to Bloor West Village.  If you would like to live in this neighbourhood drop me a line.

If you have other neighbourhood hotspots  and sites you would like to share, please send me an email.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Builders should be upfront about extra condo charges

Last week I had the opportunity to review a condominium builder purchase agreement with a couple of clients. They had been told in the sales office what they thought was the total purchase price and asked me to see if there were any surprises in the 39-page offer.

The salesperson had failed to mention that the price on the front page was not the final one and that there were a great many extras not included in that figure. I went through the offer with the clients, pointing out many such items.

The more I talked, the unhappier they became. I provided them with a long list of items classified as extras to be paid on closing in addition to the purchase price:

  • The unit's proportionate share of the cost of installation of gas, hydro, sewers and water service and meters, to an unlimited amount.
  • Any new taxes imposed on the unit by any level of government after the agreement was signed (think HST) – also an unlimited amount.
  • The Tarion warranty enrolment fee of $502.
  • An unlimited levy against the unit for parks or other municipal charges.
  • Provincial sales tax on the appliances included with the unit.
  • An extra $300 for the paperwork to hold the purchasers' deposits in trust.
  • $150 to discharge the builder's construction financing and give clear title after closing.
  • The builder's $52.50 transaction levy payable to the Law Society.
  • $150 to subsidize the builder's legal fees.
  • Interest on the balance of the purchase price from the day of final closing to the next banking day.
  • The amount of any increase in municipal, education or transit development charges imposed between Oct. 10, 2008 and closing.
  • An unlimited contribution to the builder's proportionate share of all costs associated with a development agreement entered into with the city.

The total cost of these extras could easily exceed $10,000 to $20,000. And since they are classified as extras or "adjustments," they are typically not eligible for mortgage financing. Not one of them was mentioned in the sales office.

To make the purchasers' cash flow even worse on closing, the offer requires that the purchasers prepay to the builder estimated property taxes for the year of closing and the year after – another $4,000 or $5,000 for taxes that won't even be assessed for at least a year.

But that's not all. Buried in the thick binder of disclosure materials is a requirement for all the condo owners to jointly buy from the builder a $185,000 guest suite and a $215,000 superintendent's unit. The unit owners have to pay this money over 11 years with interest at 4 per cent over the 10-year Canada Bond rate.

Based on the proportionate share of the unit in the building, the extra cost to my clients for their share of these two units would total about $555, plus interest for 11 years. This charge is not even mentioned in the purchase agreement.

I told my clients that if they wanted to proceed with the purchase, they should go back to the builder and amend the agreement to cap the extra charges. Some builders will do this and some will not.

I have no problem at all with builders charging whatever they want for houses or condominium units, and for imposing any extra charges they see fit.

My clients and I have a serious problem with the total lack of disclosure of the charges in the sales office – a typical failure in many builder sales offices.

The better builders are open and transparent when it comes to disclosing extra charges in the sales offices. They are a credit to the profession and help support a positive public image for the home-building industry.

The rest of them are the ones who may force the government to step in and require full written disclosure of the total purchase price and all extras in a builder offer.

Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and a director of the Tarion Warranty Corporation.  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.

David Pylyp:  One of the topics being circulated on the bulletin boards this weekend was a clause in the offer that stipulated that " if for any reason the Builder felt that the Purchaser was not the end user they would be required to pay GST on the Purchase. "

There is a need to standardized contracts and better disclosure on the part of the builders. Most importantly, during the Rescission Period (10 day cooling off period) It is incumbant upon the Buyer to seek legal advice proir to their commitment, not complain later.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Could you digitize Condominium Document Bundles Please

A Status Certificate is ordered on the resale of each condominium unit that is resold in the Toronto Real estate market. The Status Certificate costs $100.00 in Ontario, a cost borne by the seller in a normal transaction. The condominium corporation is bound to comply within 10 days. Usually there is an additional period of 3 days for you to examine the documents.

The Actual Status Certificate contains the current operating budget with existing and future proposed expeditures (spending); Notes about any proposed special assessments and changes in financial status. 

Condominium Documents are a standard package that include the Rules and Regulations of the Condominium COrporation; 5- 10 pages. The Condominium ByLaws and the Status Certificate. 20-30 pages. These document could easily be PDF'd or saved to a computer disk CD-Rom for storage and access.  

Having the documents on a computer disk would save thousands of dollars in photocopy expenses and fees to reproduce the same material time and time again.

Management companies would save by speeding the process and response time for the delivery of Document bundles to prospective purchasers on behalf of the (shareholders) unit owners. Not to mention the cost of photocopies and processing.

The Builders at the time of marketing the condominium could include the renderings and exteriors, include floorplans as part of their marketing programs. By starting a new trend to save paper time and money, the builder would also set themselves out as eco friendly, something that is timely in Toronto.

Would you as a potential Purchaser take the CD ROM home in addition to your printed material and view it on your home computer?  When you have signed the Offer to Purchase there is a standard Offer document that the Builder uses, now inserted with your name and offer details. This is added to the bound copies ofthe Rules and Regs, plus the proposed documentation of the as yet unbuilt condo corporation. You are leaving the sales office with the same material but in a more convenient fashion.

You now have 10 days (the cooling off period) referred to as Rescission to decide before making your commitment firm.

You, in conjunction with your lawyer, should review these prior to your initial consultation about what is contained in these documents, and you would both be better served. Examine the closing cost proposals, become informed about Phantom Mortgage charges, meter activation charges and green fees. 

Electronic document transfers are becoming commonplace, we are actually replacing the fax with emailed documents and their attachments that are forwarded back and forth. 

These changes would need to be implimented from the time of marketing to trickle down to the end user effectively but with the number of large condominium corporations operating in Toronto, participation by Tridel, Menkes, Monarch and Pemberton could surely lead the way.

In this day and age, I am confidant to say that many would pay an additional $5 or $10 per transaction for digitized documents, not to mention the time and mileage spend to ferry documents either by courier or agent for convenience and time constraints. 

Your comments and opinions are invited.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

As a Toronto Landlord.. Thou shalt not

Larry the Landlord has owned this property for more than 20 years. In the last 10 years the same tenant (Tina the Tenant) has been the occupant.  

Since Tina the Tenant paid relatively well, Larry the Landlord hasn’t kept pace with all the allowable rental increases available from the Landlord Tenant Tribunal.(LTB)

Larry has been watching the real estate market in west Toronto rather actively and finally felt the time was right to part with the challenge and obligation of looking after a rental property. He struck up a conversation with Tina about whether they might be interested in purchasing the property as they had been there 10 years.

Tina the Tenant, was interested in NEGOTIATING for the property but there were so many repairs that were required, including the MOLD in the basement.

MOLD   When did that happen?

Larry the Landlord was shocked at the comment about mold in the basement and made further inquiries about what had happened to cause the mold to occur. Well… the laundry tub has been leaking for a few years now in the basement and the mold is forming around the base and studs of the bathroom wall so [we] removed that dividing wall that led to the drain so the water would run off.  This could have been avoided with a 30 odd dollar laundry tub replacement or a 3 dollar washerplus the related labour cost.

Out of concern for the family and mold in the home; combined with potential liability; as well as continuing damage to the property Larry the Landlord, arranged for Certified Air to attend the property with a Mold Specialist.  Steve Herzog from Certified Air, an indoor air specialist arrived with moisture sensors, Infra Red Readers and sample of Liters of air samplers for the labs to analyze.

The mold has indeed proven to be the toxic variety that needs to be removed by gutting drywall and framing in the basement, rewiring, removal of broadloom and flooring and baseboards. The repair will require the removal of the tenants for the duration of the repairs. That would constitute an eviction and actionable for damages.  LTB Tribunal Form N5

Let’s Have the Home Insurance pay!

UMMmm ..No.  There are specific riders that are required in your insurance riders that must stipulate damage or liability by/of tenants.  The Insurance Company’s mission is to deny coverage of a claim wherever possible (to protect shareholders).

“Most currently written policies contain exclusions to any mold claims except where caused by flooding. There must be a sudden damage event” said Dmytro Badiwsky with Humberview Insurance. He continued to add “..should have specifically declared as in a tenant liability package.”

Will the Landlord and Tenant Board protect the Landlord?

Will the Courts?

Who will indemnify the Landlord for loss of income during the repairs and ultimately the repairs expenses?

As always, I would love your feedback and thoughts about this article. Was it helpful, what did you get out of it, how are you going to use it? Please email me your feedback at or add your comments below.

The story will continue shortly, stay tuned or sign up for the sequel on the RSS feed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tech Tools of the Trade

There are more than 28,000 REALTORS® in the Greater Toronto Area serving the needs of consumers. Many of the technological advances in recent years have allowed REALTORS® to serve their clients more efficiently. Many REALTORS®, for example, are available through a pager or wireless handheld device. Long before smart phones became commonplace, REALTORS® were using them to be more accessible to their clients.

REALTORS® were also early adopters of digital cameras. When you put your home up for sale, photos can be displayed with your listing. These photos can also be stitched together to create virtual tours for your listing. Since REALTORS® can access the Multiple Listing Service from anywhere in the world, even using a handheld device, laptop computers have become another staple in the REALTOR® toolkit. Laptops are convenient for reviewing prospective listings if you’re thinking of buying. If you’re planning to sell, your REALTOR® may also use one to take you through a comparative market analysis, a look at similar homes listed and sold in the area.

One of the most important elements in helping you achieve a purchase or sale is cooperation among REALTORS® in the profession. That’s why you may find many REALTOR® profiles on networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Many REALTORS® may also maintain a list of other REALTORS® in the community to whom your new property listing can be emailed. With your consent, your REALTOR® can automatically upload your property information to the Multiple Listing Service, a sophisticated database of sold, expired and active listings used only by REALTORS®. You may also choose to display it on public websites like (formerly, and those of your REALTOR®, their brokerage and other cooperating REALTORS®. The Elegant Homes Sites are now exceeding 20,000 hits per month and have a top google placement for Toronto West Homes.

Many REALTORS® maintain websites not only to display listings but also to keep clients up-to-date on market statistics and issues that affect local real estate. On these sites you may notice blogs, regularly updated journal entries, or podcasts or audio reports that can be downloaded. Some REALTOR® have also begun to share their expertise using Twitter. A networking site, it allows those who have established a profile to send brief text updates instantly to others who have signed up to follow them.

If you’re planning to buy a home, your REALTOR® may sign you up for prospect match, a service in which listings that match your criteria are automatically emailed to you each night. Be sure to also ask your REALTOR® about the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Buyer Registry Service (BRS). A password-protected database that contains information on the current housing preferences of REALTORS’ clients, the BRS can help your REALTOR® get early notification from other REALTORS® when properties matching your preferences become available.

When it comes time to make an offer, your REALTOR® can use the Multiple listing Service to generate market statistics that are specific to your area.To begin the transaction process, your REALTOR® can access forms that automatically populate all of the data pertinent to the purchase or sale. To keep things on track throughout every stage, your REALTOR® may use transaction management software and once the deal is done, you can count on your trusted advisor to stay in touch, through vehicles like email newsletters, using contact management software.

By using these and other tools REALTORS® can provide you with the most current information and the best advice, helping you to ensure that you don’t leave money on the table. To learn more about the many benefits of using a professional Realtor PING David Pylyp today!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Garbage Garbage Everywhere Toronto the Good

Toronto will soon be refusing to pick up the overflow bottles, cans and newspapers that don’t fit in the city’s new recycling bins – the latest in a series of changes to the curb-side collection program that require the cooperation of befuddled residents.

Read Complete article; National Post

David Pylyp I do try to recycle. I try to make things fit into the blue bin. But some weeks....

What struck me from this article is the comments section that was followed and then an interesting nugget.

"Curbside recycling - another "green dream" pushed down our throats by the environmentalists. See "Is Recycling A Waste Of Time" on YouTube with Thomas Deichmann ( There are much better ways to deal with our trash, but of course we're stuck with the ones that cost the most, do the least, and shut the greenies up."

"Yet another good reason not to live in Toronto the Taxed. Why have Torontonians become sheep and let this council play social engineering all of the time. Isn't their job to be good stewards of the taxes they collect? Instead they are constantly looking for new, expensive, and crazy ways to regulate your lives.

This council still refuses to fulfill one of their primary jobs: garbage collection. If there is garbage still on the street after the garbage truck runbles on, they have failed to do the job they have collected your taxes for! Get upset."

Where is the nugget of interest in all this? In the video ...

Your comments and point of view are always welcomed.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Harmonized Sales Tax will wound Housing Industry

Ontario's impending tax harmonization scheme spells disaster for those building, buying or selling homes.

The recently announced harmonization of the GST and PST in Ontario is about to wreak havoc on the housing industry, one of the pillars of that province's economy. It is a textbook case of poor government policy that will distort the province's housing market over the long term, with a particularly devastating impact on the building industry.

Consider the following: When tax harmonization in Ontario takes effect in July, 2010, someone buying a new condo in Toronto costing $500,000 -- the current median price in that city -- will pay approximately $40,000 in additional taxes. If the same buyer considers moving up to a $600,000 purchase, the tax goes up another $17,000, for a total additional tax burden of close to $60,000. Total sales taxes on a new home purchase will exceed the 13% tax on an imported luxury car and the 15% sin tax levied on a glass of wine or pint of beer purchased at the local watering hole. But will new home purchasers be willing to pay these sky-high sales tax increases and, if not, what are the consequences?

Hardest hit will be people living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The provincial government indicates that 75% of new home purchases in Ontario fall below the $400,000 threshold. But in the GTA, 54% of new home purchases last year were predominately high-rise condominiums, and in Toronto, where the majority of new condominiums are being built, the average asking price is currently just over $500,000.

For the consumer, there is one way to dodge the tax: Buy on the resale market where PST and GST do not apply. For a $600,000 resale purchase, the tax savings would total $78,000. But the sheer magnitude of the difference in sales tax between new and resale product will distort housing markets in the long run.

Bottom line: the harmonized tax regime will curtail new housing supply in key sectors of the new homes market and will redirect demand to the resale market. In the long run, this will put upward pressure on house prices.

David Pylyp; Click on the title to read the entire piece, well written and researched by - James McKellar is professor of real estate and infrastructure at the Schulich School of Business, York University Hat Tip to the National Post.

How do you feel about the harmonized tax? Do you agree that it will push the sale of smaller home units? Will there be a mini boom of 1,150 square foot houses like built in the early 70's?

Online Petitions are available for the anti tax movement, but unfortunately No One Mobilized during the Miller Tax

Your comments are invited.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

House Ownership More Affordable for Canadians - RBC

THE CANADIAN PRESS hat tip to Canada Press
TORONTO - Home ownership became more affordable for Canadians in the last quarter of 2008, reversing a trend that began four years earlier, according to Royal Bank of Canada.

The RBC Affordability measure tracks how much of a typical family's pre-tax income is required to pay for different types of housing and expresses it as a percentage.

From mid-2004 to early 2008, RBC found the cost of home ownership consumed a greater and greater portion of family income.

RBC said that trend reversed in the final three months of 2008 - a period that many economists say marked the beginning of what's become the deepest recession in decades.

The national rating for a detached bungalow, which RBC uses as a benchmark, fell to 43.7 per cent in the October-December quarter - down 2.1 percentage points from the July-September quarter.

Other types of housing also become more affordable, RBC said, with standard townhouse costing 35.4 per cent of family income (from 36.9), the standard condo to 30.1 per cent (from 31.4), and the standard two-story home to 50 per cent (from 52.0).

RBC Economics said the biggest factor affecting the improved affordability in the final three months of 2008 was falling mortgage rates, while improved family income also contributed.
Lower house prices were only a factor in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, which had been among the hottest real estate markets, the bank said.

"Going forward, low mortgage rates and persisting downward pressure on housing prices will continue to help repair affordability although slowing income growth will act as a restraint," RBC economist Robert Hogue said in a statement.

There were wide variations in affordability depending on the region. A detached bungalow in Vancouver, for example, cost a sky-high 70.3 per cent of family income.

In Toronto, the figure was significantly lower at 51.3 per cent. Calgary's reading was 42.7 per cent, Ottawa was the same at 42.7 per cent, Montreal was 39.4 per cent.

David Pylyp; Buyers are taking advantage of the lowest interest rates in history from approximately 3% on variable and 4% fixed to secure a mortgage. Credit criteria has not changed at the RBC and they are indeed lending. Lindsay Doke from RBC Financial spoke recently about the number of transactions processed being brisk. Contact Linsay Doke to get preapproved and let's go shopping.

If this is the time for you to fins that home in west Toronto or Etobicoke, Mississauga I would like to hear from you.

Call me for an appointment to interview. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Time is right for first-time homebuyers, housing experts say

TORONTO - Low mortgage rates and more affordable homes in many markets are pushing first-time home buyers to enter the market in droves, Canadian real-estate experts say.

Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Brookfield Real Estate Services (TSX:BRE.UN), said that when the Canadian housing market was hot, bidding wars forced many buyers to put in offers without conditions to increase their chances of being accepted.

This, combined with unprecedented increases in home prices in many parts of the country, scared many first-time buyers out of the market, he said.

"When first-time buyers stop entering the market it's like sand in the gears of the housing market," said Soper, speaking Tuesday at a BMO conference on the current and future state of Canada's housing market.

But he said the economic downturn changed all that. As housing prices fell across the country and lenders lowered their mortgage rates to attract borrowers, the market became much more attractive to people looking to buy their first homes.

"The uptick in first-time home buyer purchases across the country is quite astonishing," Soper said.

David Pylyp; What an incredible reversal of the doom and gloom that has overwhelmed the Media in Toronto. When all has been said and done Brad Lamb sums it up for Toronto by saying "There's a fair amount of evidence out there that the market has bottomed and is starting to come back," Lamb said, adding that while prices may not fall any further, they probably won't rise in the near-term either.

I share the same sentiment. People are looking for 50 % off sales and not finding them. Those [buyers] holding off have been rewarded with home sellers holding back with their property listings. Buyers will start to see a trend shortly. There does not seem to be a glut of inventory available and that results in lower than expected vacancy rates.

Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist, in a release said "These factors have put downward pressure on vacancy rates over the past year."

There may be hope for us yet! What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? Where do you think we are going?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bill 150 Home Energy Audits Compulsory

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.OREA Call for Action - Mandatory Home Energy Audits  

We need your help.

The Ontario Real Estate Association is urging the provincial government to amend Bill 150, the Green Energy Act, to make home energy audits voluntary.

Mandatory home energy audit reports can cost home sellers thousands of dollars in lost home equity. Those with less than ideal energy audit ratings will face pressure from homebuyers to either spend thousands of dollars to improve the energy rating of their home or lower their sale price.

Your email will reinforce the message OREA will be sending to the Government of Ontario when we appear before the Standing Committee on General Government on April 22nd.

Please tell your MPP that the government should be helping Ontarians achieve their dream of homeownership by amending Bill 150 to make home energy audits voluntary.

Send an e-mail to your MPP on this issue now by clicking here.  

David Pylyp Make Use of the User insight corner to make your views and concerns heard.

Does having an Energy Audit make your home or condo more saleable?  After you have received your home energy audit, does it become another compulsory document in the closing documents from your lawyer?

How do you feel about an extra expense when selling your home?

When It comes to Survey, Size Does Matter

Christopher and Lindsay Taggart were dismayed to discover that the lot underneath their newly constructed home was 1,000 square feet smaller than it was represented to be.

The home is located in a new subdivision in Maple Ridge, B.C.

Behind their lot was a parcel of undeveloped land that was to become a later phase of the subdivision. The adjacent lot was at a lower elevation, and a retaining wall had been constructed across the full width of the rear of the Taggart lot.

The wall had been built before the Taggarts viewed the property. When they inspected the house and lot with the builder's sales agent, they were told that the retaining wall marked the back boundary of the lot they wanted to buy.

The size of the backyard was an important factor for the Taggarts. They needed a yard that was large enough to accommodate their household, which included "the world's largest dog" (a Mastiff), two active sons, and future plans to install a swimming pool.

During the purchase negotiations, the Taggarts were told that the lot size was about 6,000 square feet. Based on the agent's representations, the Taggarts were satisfied that the yard was big enough to meet their needs.

About a year after closing, the Taggarts discovered to their surprise that the location of the retaining wall did not actually mark the back boundary of their property but was erected well into the lot behind them. In fact, the actual size of their backyard was about 1,000 square feet smaller than the land enclosed by the wall.

The agreement of purchase and sale, which the parties originally signed, contained the actual, correct dimensions of the land as they were set out in the plan of the subdivision. At the time of closing, the builder provided the buyers with a survey plan which – had either party examined it carefully – would have disclosed that the back boundary of the lot was not in the same place as the retaining wall.

After closing, in preparation for building a new house behind the Taggart home, the builder fenced in the Taggart yard with the new fence extending out to the retaining wall, which was beyond the actual boundary of their property.

When the lot for the new house was being surveyed, the builder realized that the actual rear boundary line was 10 feet closer to the Taggart house on the east side and 21 feet closer on the west side.

Following the discovery, the builder reconstructed the fence and retaining wall on the true boundary line. Faced with a much smaller lot, the Taggarts sued for negligent misrepresentation.

A four-day trial took place last May before Justice Janet Sinclair Prowse in Vancouver.

She released her 39-page judgment in October, finding that the builder's agent had made specific representations to the buyers that the retaining wall marked the property boundary.

She also found that the Taggarts relied on those representations and would not have bought the house without them. In the end, the plaintiffs were awarded damages of $75,254 plus interest and costs.

This case can be usefully compared to the Meagher case I wrote about last week.

There, the size of the house was 500 square feet less than the advertised size. The purchasers were otherwise happy with the house. They sued to recover damages for the shortfall – and lost.

In the Taggart case the retaining wall was specifically represented to be the rear boundary of the lot. The shortage in the lot size was found to be critical to the purchase decision, and the builder was held responsible for the misrepresentation.

Two lessons emerge from the case of Taggart v. Epic Homes:

  • Whether you're buying a new or resale home, always insert the lot size in the offer.
  • Always examine the survey plan carefully. It's the most important document in every real estate transaction.
Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and a director of the Tarion Warranty Corporation.  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.

Case source:

What to do with your Tax Refund?

It’s great to get a tax refund, isn’t it? So, what are you going to do with it? In past years, you might have been sorely tempted to spend it on a guilty pleasure but maybe not in this more economically ‘iffy’ year.

However – ‘if’ you want to improve your personal economy in the longer run, here are a few options for making the best use of your tax refund.

Accelerate your RRSP. Get a head start on your next year’s Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution. You’ll benefit from almost an extra year of potential long-term RRSP

tax-deferred growth, plus a tax deduction against your taxes next year.

Check out new investment opportunities: If your RRSP is topped up, use your refund to:

Open a Tax-Free Savings Account – you’ll enjoy tax-free earnings and growth and you can make tax-free withdrawals at any time for any use you can imagine.

Add to your non-registered investments. The best tax-reducing strategy is to hold stocks and equity mutual funds outside an RRSP. Any gains on these investments are taxed at

the more favourable capital gains inclusion rate and Canadian dividends received from these types of investments qualify for the dividend tax credit.

Build an education fund. Fund your children’s future education costs with a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). RESP contributions are not tax deductible, but their growth is tax deferred and they qualify for Canada Education Savings Grants* of 20 per cent or more of your contribution.

Pay down your most costly debt. The interest rate on credit card debt can range from 15 to 29 per cent per annum – so be sure to reduce or eliminate that debt first.

Pay down your long-term debt. Taken care of your high-cost debt? Then pay down nondeductible debt like your mortgage. Every pre-payment will reduce your repayment schedule

and could save plenty in interest payments.

Zero next year’s refund. Why give the government an interest-free loan of your money for a year and have to wait for a refund cheque? Apply to have less tax withheld from your pay cheque and you’ll have a little more money for your own use every pay period. Apply to lower your withholding tax using File Form T1213, available from your local CRA office or from the CRA Website,

It’s great to get a tax refund – but it’s even better to have a comprehensive tax and financial plan. A professional financial advisor can help develop the right plan for you.

* Canada Education Savings Grant and Canada Learning Bond are sponsored by Human Resources and Skills

Development Canada.

John Scholl   B. Mathematics, CGA, 

Wealth Management & Financial Planning

I strive to continually improve my wealth management practice to be worthy of the referrals received. I build my business one introduction at a time, and would consider it a great compliment to be introduced to one of your business associates, friends or family.

Investors Group 200 - 24 Queen Street East, Brampton, Ontario L6V 1A3

 (905) 450-2891 X529   Toll Free:  (866) 799-2223  Cell:  (416) 731-3660


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Decorating is for Living - Staging is for Selling

Why Should you Invest in Home Staging?

A study by the National Association of Realtors in 2007 showed that 84% of today’s busy home buyers use the internet as a major tool in their home search. Buyers view online photos & virtual tours of properties in their desired location & price range to come up with a short list to actually view. If the buyer is not enticed, by the pictures or during a drive by, chances are they will not view the house & if they don’t view your house, they’re not going to buy it.

You can’t change its location or size but you can enhance its presentation. As soon as the sign goes up, your agents job starts; the appraisal is done, photos are taken, feature sheets are prepared, & marketing beings, to show off your house on the real estate agents tour, open houses, viewings & advertising. You know the expression; “you only have one chance to make a first impression”.

Your house is probably your biggest investment, & you want to maximize your return on investment & protect your equity. Should your house remain on the market for an extended period of time, the cost of Home Staging would have been much less than a price reduction, additional mortgage payments, taxes, insurance & utility bills, not to mention the inconveniences & stress of not being able to move on with your life.

When to Stage your House?
  • Before The Sign Goes Up.
  • Before the appraisal is done, so it will appraise for top dollar.
  • Before the sign goes on the lawn, so you have the competitive advantage, sell for more money in less time.
  • Before the photos are taken, or a great first impression to entice Buyers to view your house
  • Before the features sheets are prepared, to capture & highlight your houses best selling features.
  • Before the real estate agents tour, to entice Agents to show your house to their Buyers.
  • Before open houses and viewings, to appeal to the widest range of Buyers & they will see your Pride of Ownership,
  • Before money is spent on advertising or marketing.
What A Home Staging Consultant will do for you.

An honest, unbiased look at the house through the eyes of the most critical buyer - then give their professional opinion

Highlight & enhance the houses selling features & minimize negative
Enhance functionality & visual flow
Address the furniture layout, scale & proportion, balance & harmony, lighting, traffic flow, focal points, room function & repairs to consider
Address colour, accessories, pictures and their placement
Have your house appeal to the more mainstream tastes of potential Buyers
Respect your individual situation, timeframe & budget
Make the potential Buyers all important first impression memorable
Critique & make recommendations, room by room, as well as curb appeal
Prioritized step by step assessment of recommendations & suggestions to get your house ready for sale
Maximize your return on investment & protect your equity with an honest, unbiased & professional opinion.
In the end, it is you that will decide what recommendations will be implemented and by whom.


Consultation includes an in-depth room by room evaluation listing all improvements & recommendations.
A prioritized action plan check list with suggested furniture layouts, ideas for decluttering, repairs, depersonalizing, color schemes & accessorizing personalized for your house. An action plan & tips & suggestions for home & curb appeal, a shopping list & trade list as per your needs.
After the consultation you will be aware of all the things that you can do to enhance your house in preparation to for sale to get the greatest return on your investment.
  • Staging Work
  • Showcasing
  • Staging for Living (Decorating & Design) Consultation
  • Move in Service Consultation
  • Senior Services & Facility Transition
  • Vacant Home Staging
  • Gift Certificates

I invite you to contact Lydia Pollard 905 272 4764 or email for a home staging staging consultation.

Random Acts of Kindness

For the past few weeks with the approach of spring many people's interest is refocused to gardening and what will happen for spring.

In our office, in the reception area there have been fresh cut flowers,  tulips,  roses and all kinds of wonderful things artfully displayed in glass and ceramic decanters.

Not just the please put these in water vases, mind you.  

Imagine the fragrance that greets your clients as they enter your company reception area.

This random act of kindness does seem to inspire business as I am taken to thanking and recommending this business for insightful marketing techniques.

Beside the floral arrangement is a small business card stand with their cards discreetly advertising their business.  Kudos to you.

Naira Ardenian is the Floral Artist at located at 10 Wilkinson Road in Brampton. [Naira] can be contacted  toll free at 1 888 450 2616.

To Naira;  Thank you

The Sky didn't fall! Toronto Market Watch Results

March Resale Housing Results Bring Positive News
TORONTO, April 6, 2009 - In March 2009, Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 6,171 sales – down seven per cent from March 2008, representing the smallest year-over-year decline in the last five months. The average price for March transactions was $362,052 – down less than five per cent from the same month last year.

“The Greater Toronto housing market has stood up very well given the challenging economic times the world has experienced in recent months,” commented TREB President Maureen O’Neill.

“In fact, over the past two months, the situation in the housing market has improved.”
The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of sales increased to 65,600 in March – up 36 per cent
from the ten-year low reached in January.

“Sales in March increased at a rate over and above what would be expected from the normal
spring-time bump,” said Jason Mercer TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. “A greater
number of households have taken advantage of increased affordability in the housing
marketplace.” DOWNLOAD complete Market watch report

Not only has the sky not fallen, the weekend open house activity is very strong. My own, this past weekend, received 26 families on Saturday (remember the wind) and 16 families on Sunday. This indicates for me a strong pent up demand for housing.

In the west end ( where I track the monthly Trends listings have increased slightly to 9,052 with 2,407 reported sold, a ratio of almost 4:1 or 26.59%

If you have been hesitating putting your home up for sale; you may be very surprised by the market activity. I welcome your calls and comments.