Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Did women cause the current recession?

I guess it must be true if it was in print in the Business Insider.

What do you think of this article. Could women alone be responsible for the economy, recession and slowed consumer spending.

Add your comments.

Best Toronto Photo Contest

Living in Toronto Attractions is a photo contest which asks Torontonians and Tweeters to submit their best and most amazing pictures of popular Toronto travel destinations or events for a chance to win cash. How do you find Toronto exciting?

Participants can make their entrees extra compelling by adding 140 character captions to accompany the photo submission during competition and thereby offer counterpoint insights to their images. On Twitpic the membership is the judge and user submitted content is constantly being graded - the highest viewed photo wins the prize.

PHOTO'S WILL BE POSTED TO so that anyone can view and retweet their favorite entry.

1st Place - $100 The member that uploads the picture with the highest rating as per the registered vote count on December 1st 2009, will receive a $100 gift certificate

2nd place - $75 There's a $75 gift certificate for 2nd place.

Sponsored by David Pylyp RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Living in West Toronto, the winning photo, could show highlights from a recent family event or road trip or Toronto hot spots. At the very least don't forget to enter exactly where the picture was taken and when.

Please include your name Phone and email for future contact purposes.

CONTEST ENDS - 12:01 am, DEcember 1st 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things to Love about TO

The Things You'll Love About Living in Toronto, Ontario Canada

When it comes to evaluating potential cities to move to, You should not overlook Toronto, Ontario for excitement and attractions. Toronto, as Capital of Ontario is a truly unique place to live and visit. The city combines all of the things you would expect to find in major cities with the charm and diversity you find in less populated areas. Specific neighbourhoods are featured during their streets festivals albeit The Bloor West Village festival or the Roncesvalles Village Festival or the Taste of the Danforth to name but a few. Newest BIA to join is the Lake Shore Kipling BIA with their Lakeshorelicious campaign improving business and restaurant fare along the Humber Bay Shore and Lakeshore. The region is famous for the great outdoors, from the Mark Goodman Trail, attractions along the Toronto waterfront, to the world's largest indoor shopping mall, Toronto sits among some of the best natural scenery south of the Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment. Toronto has some of the best shopping, cultural, sports, and outdoor attractions that can be found anywhere.

Shopping, Eating and Attractions

Like most cities, Toronto has a good deal of fantastic eating, drinking and shopping opportunities, as well as other types of urban attractions. Toronto stands out from what you will find in other cities because a great deal of what makes Toronto special is the city's ties to both the local history and the natural surroundings. Some of the most famous attractions in the city of Toronto include High Fashion Shopping in Yorkville, the quaint Charm of Sherway Gardens, the flying geese at the Eaton Center or the Variety of Square One, there are no limit to shopportunities in Toronto.

Thousands of tourists marvel at the underground shopping system that connects miles of tunnels between the Bus terminal at Bay and Dundas with Union Station, 27 kilometers of tunnels that connect 1200 stores and all weather proof. Toronto Path Map

Toronto had the advantage of forward thinking city founders who early in the city's history took the steps to set aside land to be used as parks. Sunnyside, Ashbridges Bay and Cherry Beach. The parks in the city of Toronto stand out as some of the best urban parks any where. There are a number of quality parks that are must visit places in Toronto including the Riverdale Zoo, High Park and Grenedier Pond, The Old Mill, Ontario Place and the newest form of town square the Yonge Dundas Square. Other worthy parks from the Toronto region include Humber River and Bluffers Park. Rouge Park is Toronto's largest park, part of the Oak Ridges Moraine watershed and provides camping, is already 13 times as big as New York's Central Park, or 33 times the size of London, England's Hyde Park

Historical and Cultural Opportunities

When it comes to historical and cultural experiences, most people don't realize that Toronto scores right up there with some of the most famous events in the country. Our recent involvement with the TIFF is profile positive. From general attractions that appeal to kids and adults alike, Paramount 's Wonderland to specific niche museums or galleries that cater to a select few, the city of Toronto has plenty of indoor entertainment possibilities for both visitors and residents to enjoy. Some of the better museum and cultural attractions in Toronto include the Royal Ontario Museum, Planetarium, the Hummingbird Center for the Performing Arts, and Union Station.

Professional Sports

One of the many things to do in the city of Toronto is watch and participate with professional level sports teams. Though a relatively young city when compared to other major cities in the United States, Toronto is well represented in all major professional sports leagues. The professional sports teams of Toronto attract a great deal of their fans from the entire Golden Horseshoe region. Some of the professional sports watching opportunities in Toronto include the Toronto Raptors basketball team, the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, Toronto Rock lacrosse team, Argos CFL Football team and the newest Toronto FC soccer team. The Toronto Marlies hockey team is the training camp for the Maple Leafs and newest 4 rink hockey arena located at Kipling and Lakeshore. Also calling the arena a permanent home will be the Etobicoke Dolphins, the second-largest women’s hockey organization.

The Great Outdoors

Ontario is known as a province that is famous for its outdoor recreation attractions and Toronto has their fair share of them including the Blue Mountain, Collingwood, The Trent Severn Canal systems for boaters, numerous sailing and rowing clubs along the Toronto waterfront, camping at Algonquin Park or within sight of the CN tower at Rouge Conservation Area. Complete list of local parks.

A visit to Toronto is all it takes for someone to decide that it just may be the perfect place to relocate to. The city truly has everything that a resident could want including some of the best indoor and outdoor recreational pursuits in the region. Toronto offers something for everyone and certainly offers enough things to do that would make it a great place for any individual, couple or family to move to.


Economic opportunites continue within the Toronto GTA both with city limits and the outlying suburbs being Richmond Hill, Markham and Mississauga, Ontario.

There are many things to love about living and working in Toronto. Feel free to add your own.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Increased Train Traffic thru Toronto

Dr. David McKeown took the unusual step of speaking at a protest organized by the Clean Train Coalition, repeating concerns about the health impacts of Metrolinx's proposal for the Georgetown south corridor.

"The trouble is the current proposal (is) built on a foundation of diesel – a mode of transportation we know is bad for air quality and not good for our health," McKeown told an energetic crowd of more than 500 gathered at Sorauren Park in Roncesvalles Village.

Here is the complete article from the Star.

Diesel Trains Through the Junction

So I asked Mark, (Father and Son, in captioned picture above) who took part in the march to Sorauren Park, his views. He lives in the Junction.

"If this all goes ahead, it'll spell tragedy for this whole city, not just those of us who live near the tracks. Those who stand to gain financially and are all for it are quoting 'safe' levels that are obsolete in most first-world countries.

It's just another case of buy now, pay later. McGuinty and the pinstriped fatcats will be up north in their cottage retreats counting their profits while the rest of us stuck in the city will pay with more brutal smog alert days per year. My son Magnus already suffers from asthma, and if this goes through, we'll have to seriously consider moving away from the Junction. Multiply this by the number of other concerned parents in the area and you end up with a loss of population (read: business), decimating what is currently a thriving community."

David Pylyp; We all want a greener environment. We all want a cleaner city. Yet when given the opportunity to lessen diesel smoke emissions through a residential community, the Ontario Government, Metrolinx, and the City have turned their backs.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canadian housing markets buck recession

Mississauga, Ontario (September 24, 2009) - With the worst of the recession over, residential real estate markets in major Canadian centres are poised for growth in the final quarter of 2009, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.

The RE/MAX Bricks and Mortar Report found the bounce back that began in early Spring has made this recession one of the shortest on record for real estate. Low interest rates, pent-up demand, and improved affordability levels have all played a role in the recovery now well-underway. Percentage increases in sales from January to August 2009 were led by Vancouver, (up a substantial 14 per cent to 23,158), Victoria (up 7.4 per cent to 5,266), Edmonton (up 6.2 per cent to 13,691), Regina (up five per cent to 2,597), Ottawa (up 2.4 per cent to 10,830) and Toronto (up 1.8 per cent to 58,421). Housing values are already ahead of record-breaking 2008 levels in seven of the 11 markets surveyed, including Newfoundland-Labrador (18.1 per cent year to $203,584), Regina (6.4 per cent to $244,088), Halifax-Dartmouth (3.5 per cent to $239,633), Winnipeg (3.5 per cent to $207,006), Ottawa (3.3 per cent to $301,684), and Toronto (up 0.3 per cent to $385,978). Nationally, average price hovers at $312,585, up 0.5 per cent over one year ago.

“Markets are heating up across the country,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Purchasers are clearly taking advantage of affordable prices and rock bottom interest rates. Those who missed the boat in years past have found that sitting on the sidelines can be a costly move. Prices are on the upswing and inventory levels are tightening, so the push toward homeownership is expected to continue throughout the Fall and possibly into early 2010.”

The recovery of Canada’s resale housing markets speaks to the tremendous value Canadians place on the importance of owning a home. The number of Canadians overall who own a home has increased since 1981 from 62.1 per cent to 68.4 per cent, with some markets posting even higher homeownership rates -- Calgary (74.1), St. John’s (71.5), Regina (70.1), and Edmonton (69.2). Significant gains have also been made over the same period in markets such as Ottawa -- where homeownership levels rose from 51.4 per cent to 66.7 per cent -- and Toronto, where levels rose fro m 57.3 to 67.6 per cent.

“The strength of the residential housing sector cross-country has taken many economists and housing analysts by surprise once again,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “In terms of its impact on the resale market, by historical standards, this recession was one of the mildest. The resilience of bricks and mortar has been demonstrated time and again. While there may still be some challenges down the road, the worst is definitely behind us in the housing industry.”

Over the past thirty years, the Canadian residential real estate market has experienced three major downturns – 1981, 1989, and 2008. While there have also been regional fluctuations throughout the years, return on investment over this period has been substantial, with Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Regina and Ottawa leading the country in terms of price appreciation.

The overall stability of real estate as an investment has also played a role. Markets like Halifax-Dartmouth, Regina, Ottawa, Winnipeg and London have provided steady returns (especially in recent years), with minimal fluctuation.

Public sentiment can best be illustrated by a recent Angus Reid Omnibus Survey* that asked the question “In which do you feel more comfortable investing your money? The stock market or real estate.” Out of 1,000 respondents from coast-to-coast, 77 per cent chose real estate. The results of the RE/MAX Bricks and Mortar Report are clearly representative of this national dynamic at work.

David Pylyp Last September there were 41% more homes for sale (27,373) than there currently are. In 2007, which was a “sellers market”, there were 25% more homes for sale (21,571) than are currently for sale. Couple that with a record month for sales coming up and “supply and demand” is bound to have the prices continue rising.

The cronic shortage of available homes for sale at the entry level of what is now 300 to 400 thousand is causing a frenzy and a perpetual bidding war on each property as it becomes available.

Hurry it May be Gone sounds so corny yet it is so true.

Serene Silence in Alderwood South Etobicoke

If you would like something quiet, very serene and private yet within the Toronto City Limits, consider this charming two bedroom bungalow situated in south Alderwood.

If you would like to view this property we are hosting an open house at 35 Roseland Dr., Etobicoke this Saturday and Sunday between 1 & 4 PM.

If you would like to have your home showcased and promoted in this fashion please call me at 647 218 2414 we have a critical shortage of homes for sale.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Your Cottage and keeping it in the family

Ahh, your cottage – a place of sanctuary, family fun and warm memories. But passing along a cottage to the next generation can set off complex financial and family issues. Here are some suggested steps to ensuring cottage continuity.

Know what your kids want You know that cottage ownership is a big personal and financial responsibility that is not for everyone. Discuss this with your children and if any of them are not interested in inheriting the cottage, avoid family squabbles by making sure they are treated fairly in your will.

If you decide on shared ownership, keep in mind that it can be a difficult proposition. That’s why it can be useful to obtain legal advice when you put an agreement in place – about such things as who uses the cottage and when, who pays for repairs, maintenance and upkeep, and the other nitty-gritty aspects of joint cottage ownership – to avoid protracted disputes and misunderstandings.

Manage the tax burden If your cottage has appreciated in value, your estate can face a significant capital gains liability that could force its sale by your heirs.

Capital gains taxes are based on the difference between the cost of your property and its current fair market value at the time of your death. The cost of your cottage is what you initially paid for it plus the value of any capital improvements you made to it over the years – a new deck or roof, for example, including the cost of anyone you hired to do the work for you – so keep your receipts to account for all these costs to help offset capital gains. General upkeep costs such as painting the cottage are generally not considered capital improvements.

Consider taking advantage of the primary residence exemption. You are allowed to name a primary residence that is exempt from tax on capital gain. The residence must be a property you ‘ordinarily inhabited’. It can be either your city home or your cottage. You are allowed just one principal residence at a time but you can choose to exempt the property with the bigger gain.

Have a succession plan Include an effective strategy for passing on your cottage. One option is to purchase life insurance with tax-free death benefits that will cover the capital gains on your cottage and/or other expenses and avoid the forced sale of estate assets. Life insurance is also a good way to equalize an estate where one child wants to keep the cottage, whereas other children would prefer to sell it and divide the proceeds of sale.

Some of these estate planning options may not work in your situation, so it’s a good idea to talk to your professional advisor about your wishes for your cottage and the financial and estate planning options that will work best for you.

John Scholl B. Mathematics, CGA, Picture (Device Independent Bitmap)

Consultant - Investors Group Financial Services Inc.

Wealth Management & Financial Planning

Phone: (905) 450-2891 Toll Free: 1 (866) 799-2223 Cell (416) 731-3660

More for Lake Shore and Marine Parade - Humber Bay Shore

Council approves towers by the lake

Etobicoke York Community Council (EYCC) green-lighted two condominum towers down on the lakeshore last week.

The first is a 39-storey condo to be built at 2123 Lake Shore Boulevard West and the second, a 30-storey condo at 68 Marine Parade Drive.

Both sites were initially proposed to have two, albeit shorter, towers on-site, but through community consultations, both proposals were amended and the second towers eliminated.

As part of the approval, city staff negotiated a number of Section 37 benefits, including:

  • $480,000 toward park improvements south of Marine Parade Drive;
  • $250,000 towards the improvement of and further acquisition requirements of Amos Waites Park and recreation facility;
  • $500,000 towards a proposed outdoor ice skating oval at Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive;
  • $50,000 towards improvements to Mimico Memorial Park;
  • $45,000 towards the restoration of Mimico Station;
  • $45,000 towards Mimico BIA public art.

The project was approved by EYCC on Sept. 15 and the proposal will now go before Toronto City Council for final approval. .

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We need place to live

We needed a place to live but we're limited by budget. My Mom was very distrustful of people and the promises they made. Then we found David online.

David looked after the financing; getting us a mortgage, finding a lawyer and collecting the status documents and a floorplan. This was the third unit we were bidding on as everytime it was a multiple offer. David kept telling us not to get upset, we would find a unit without going over our budget and we stayed within our means.

Our unit will be one of the condo's in the background with the extended balconies on the fifth floor. The Living Room and the Master bedroom both have a balcony that is joined.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Toronto real estate update Mid 0909

Mid Month Toronto Market Update

Your comments and views are always invited.

What do you think will happen this fall?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Little Engine that could!

TORONTO, September 16, 2009 - In the first two weeks of September, Greater Toronto
REALTORS® reported 3,361 sales – up 23 per cent compared to the first two weeks of
September 2008. The average price for these transactions was up eight per cent year-over-year to $393,818.

"An increasing number of positive reports pointing to economic recovery coupled with low
interest rates have kept households confident in purchasing a home," said TREB President Tom

Year-to-date sales, at 61,676 are up three per cent compared to 59,971 in 2008. Average price,
at $386,302, is up by one per cent from $383,776.

"Tighter market conditions since May, as evidenced by rising sales relative to listings and
declining average days on the market, have resulted in stronger average price growth,"
explained Jason Mercer, TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis.
Summary Of September Sales And Average Price

September 2009 2008
Sales Average Price Sales Average Price
City of Toronto ("416") 1,280 $415,126 998 $386,524
Rest of GTA ("905") 2,081 $380,712 1,728 $354,395
GTA 3,361 $393,818 2,726 $366,158
Source: Toronto Real Estate Board

David Pylyp; The Toronto Media has chosen not to focus on the lack of inventory available. Currently there are still less than 16,000 units for sale on TREB compared to the 27,373 for sale last September and 21,571 in 2007. West Inventory Levels are posted here

We are moving further into a
Seller's Market with interest rates hovering at near 4% fixed at five years. This does not bode well for buyer's as anything coming up for sale is immediately pushed into multiple offer territory. If you are considering listing I would like to speak with you. What will happen going into the fall?

Your comments and observations are welcomed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Toronto Condominium Taxation

Condominiums, even though they have been around for quite sometime in Ontario, have only modestly grown in the past and mostly only in urban areas. However, all that started to change in the late 1980’s when growth in condominium development began to expand. This growth increase almost seemed to double each year. In fact, in many urban areas, especially in the Greater Toronto Area, they have almost come to supplant single family residences as the preferred form of residential accommodation. Maclean’s Magazine, in its December 31st, 2007 issue, featuring real estate in Canada, postulated that half the people in urban Canada will be living in condos by 2025.

This growth has lead many urban municipalities to allocate an ever increasingly larger proportion of larger building permits to condominium development. Since condominium developments, specifically high-rise condominiums, utilize less land area, they have also become an excellent planning tool for the urban municipality, enabling them to accommodate more people in a smaller land area. Although this growth in condominium developments has increased, almost exponentially in recent times, one aspect of condominium life has not changed, namely assessment on condos for the purpose of municipal taxes.

EACH CONDOMINUM UNIT IS STILL ASSESSED AS A SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL UNIT FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE MUNICIPAL TAX BILL. This is the case because the assessment act of Ontario (the Legislation which specifically covers the way properties are assessed in Ontario for municipal and school taxation purposes) does not identify condominiums as a specific category of assessment. Thus a condominium-specific tax rate cannot be created by the local municipality, since the municipality can only do those things granted by the provincial legislation. Since the assessment act of Ontario does not permit a distinct category of assessment for condominiums, the municipality does not have the authority create a specific tax rate for authorities even if they wish to do so.

Toronto Condominium Taxation

David Pylyp; With the number of Toronto Condos nearing 50% maybe this idea is indeed timely. Please feel free to add your comments.

Westwood Theatre Courthouse Update

    Plans proceed for provincial courthouse on Westwood lands

    Proposal to go before city council next month

    While the province continues to negotiate the purchase of a long vacant 4.3-acre parcel of city-owned property on the Westwood Theatre Lands, city staff have been simultaneously processing a rezoning application to make way for a new west-end courthouse on the site.

    The proposal, billed as phase 1 of an extensive plan to revitalize the "barren, vacant land" at Westwood, was presented to the community Thursday, Sept. 10 - a full month before it's set to go before Etobicoke York Community Council (EYCC) on Oct. 13, and a month and a half before Toronto City Council will render its final decision on the proposal on Oct. 26.

    "This is the first project to come up, so it's very important for us to get it right," said Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn, whose Ward 5 the property falls within.

    Milczyn said the rezoning hold-up for the site is both technical and substantive.

    "Technically, the Etobicoke Centre Secondary Plan calls for mixed use development of the area - both residential and office use - but courthouses are not mentioned within that wording. In fact, no zoning in any part of the city mentions courthouse uses in their zoning," he told a near capacity crowd in EYCC council chambers on Thursday night.

    According to Brian Gallaugher, a senior city planner, the rezoning of the proposed courthouse parcel is further complicated by a Westwood-Theatre-land-wide holding provision written into the zoning bylaw.

    "That means that even if a developer wished to build something that was fully permitted under the current zoning, council would still need assurance by way of an iron-clad agreement that the infrastructure - the roads, sewers, water mains - were all in place before that building would be allowed to open its doors," he said.

    Back in April when Attorney General Chris Bentley first announced his intentions to locate the 20-courtroom Ontario Court of Justice on the site (right on the subway line at the intersections of Bloor and Dundas streets west and Kipling Avenue), Milczyn lauded the project as the "just the beginning of new roads, streetscapes and well as other community development in the area."

    He echoed that sentiment again Thursday night: "This is just one part of a larger vision for the area; we're not only looking at this single parcel, we're looking at the Westwood Theatre lands as a whole. People have expressed concern that the city was just going to sell it off to condo developers and be done with it, but that's not my vision."

    Now five months into the process, Etobicoke Centre residents got their first glimpse at what the courthouse and surrounding areas might look like should the Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) successfully negotiate the sale of the land and should Toronto City Council vote to rezone the land to make way for the courts.

    "The courthouse will function from both the inside out and from the outside in - it has a responsibility to perform multiple roles," said Andrea Gabor, an Urban Strategies Inc. consultant working on the case.

    In terms of security for the proposed eight-storey building, Gabor said a 15 metre set back from the street, dotted with benches, trees, planters and other street furniture, would be put in place "in order to ensure that we don't have vehicles crashing into the building and blowing up."

    Security would also play a key role in any parking plans for the site, because courthouses cannot have public underground parking, Gabor said. So while the site would have about 60 on-site spots for judges, crown attorneys and other staff, all others would have to be accommodated in a public garage to be located under Dundas Street West.

    Gallaugher said that, at best estimate, construction of the courthouse could conceivably commence in late 2011 or early 2012, with an expected opening date of 2014.

    David Pylyp; Incredible opportunity for the West End to create construction, improve infrastructure and provide transit access to the public and employees via the Kipling Subway renovation and Expansion. The Reconstruction of this interchange has been scheduled for years and is highly anticipated.

    Adjacent condo towers would be very suitable for staff accomodation both at the Tridel Essex & Nuvo and the Michael Power on the North Side. If you would like information about living in this well planned and copnvenient community, give me a call.

    Your comments are always invited.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Property Information Statements SPIS

    Disclosure document is an invitation to litigation

    The vast majority of residential real estate transactions close as scheduled, without problems or disputes. The chances of any given real estate deal resulting in litigation involving the buyers, sellers and real estate agents increase dramatically when the agents insist that the sellers complete a disclosure document called the Sellers Property Information Statement (SPIS).

    The form is published by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

    An increasing tide of court cases from across the country is evidence that the forms provide an endless source of income for litigation lawyers, and a bottomless pit of grief and expense to the parties involved in the transaction.

    An Ontario Superior Court decision released earlier this year is yet another example of how dangerous these forms are and why OREA and some of its member boards should bear the blame for promoting them.

    Back in 2002, Maria Lunney purchased a 90-year old Ottawa duplex for $180,000 from Jana Kuntova. The listing agent was Masoud Badre, an employee of Re/Max Metro City. The house was described in the sale listing as having a "stone, stucco" exterior with a "stone" foundation.

    This type of foundation, with parging on the interior sides, was in common use until about 70 years ago, and is also known as a rubble foundation.

    At the time of the listing, Kuntova – with the assistance of her agent, Badre – completed a Sellers Property Information Statement on the OREA form.

    In it she stated that she was not aware of any structural problems in the basement.

    Prior to the sale to Lunney, however, Kuntova had accepted an offer to purchase the property from Marque Laflamme. That purchaser had obtained a home inspection report, which indicated advanced crumbling of the rubble foundation under the rear extension of the house. Laflamme backed out of the transaction, although the seller was not told the reason for the cancellation.

    At the time of her purchase in 2002, Lunney also commissioned a home inspection, but it did not reveal any defects in the foundation as the interior basement walls had been covered with drywall since the previous inspection.

    A subsequent inspection undertaken for Lunney in 2005 revealed that there were serious foundation deficiencies behind the drywall, and that the property would either have to be demolished or raised to permit the construction of a new foundation under it.

    The following year, Lunney sued Kuntova, Badre and Re/Max Metro-City for $300,000 in damages for misrepresentation. The co-defendants also sued each other.

    The trial took place late last year over the course of five days. As a general guideline, the three lawyers involved probably spent at least another five days each in pre-trial discoveries and in preparation for trial. That comes to a total of a minimum of 30 lawyer-days, and points to a combined legal bill for everyone of something north of $100,000.

    In the end, the judge found no evidence that the defendants were aware that the foundation was useless. The judge dismissed the case. Following the trial, Lunney paid court costs to the defendants, but the amounts have not been made public. As well, the losing plaintiff was responsible for her own legal bills and the foundation is still at the end of its useful life.

    But for the existence of the SPIS this case may never have gone to court. The form is an invitation to litigation, and in my view agents who promote it are doing themselves and their clients a huge disservice by exposing everyone to needless litigation.

    Bob McLean, director of communications at OREA, the publisher and promoter of the SPIS disclosure form, emailed me last week to say that the association had declined my request to interview a spokesperson but would shortly be providing me with a written statement about its position on the SPIS.

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

    David Pylyp: We are asked to include this in the bundle of documents that are provided to the Seller at each listing appointment. I ask simply, that they consult with their lawyer prior to completing the form. Invariably during the first week of the listing I am told that under the advice of counsel, They will not be completing the SPIS.

    My job is not always to tell you what you want hear, but what you need to hear.

    Add your comments .. would you complete these forms?

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    Condominium Corporations budgeting for the Harmonized Sales Tax

    A challenging process that can’t be lightly undertaken!

    By: John AbedRabbo, CA, CPA (IL)

    On July 1, 2010, Ontario may wake up to a new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) under the McGuinty proposed changes to the Ontario tax system. This proposed change is likely to pass given the majority government status the provincial government currently enjoys. The new tax will be based on the Goods and Services Taxes (GST) and will be administered by the Federal Government.

    For the average person living in Ontario this may not seem like a big deal on the surface as the GST at 5% and the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) at 8% will be replaced with a single HST at 13%. Add the two together and things seem fine and dandy.

    However, one must realize that the PST in not collected on everything that GST is collected on. The catch phrase is “services”. PST is not currently collected on services, but under the proposed budget changes, services will now cost an additional 8%. Some of the items that will be affected by this change, just to mention a few, include utility bills (gas and hydro), internet, cable, and professional fees such as lawyers and accountants. Thus, on July 1, 2010, certain items will cost a whole 8% more than what you paid for them the day before. Unfortunately, you cannot stock up on utilities! This is a huge increase in times of an economic slowdown when consumers are cutting back.

    Impact on condominium corporations and fees

    Under the current system and as mentioned above, gas, hydro, professional fees, management fees and most repairs and maintenance services (e.g. cleaning, landscaping, snow removal, furnace and air conditioning maintenance, etc.) are not charged PST in a condominium corporation. Thus, the HST will result in an increase of 8% to these expenses. Water expense should remain the same as it is a non-taxable item. In addition, insurance should not be affected as it is subject only to PST, which will continue, and will not be subject to HST. In terms of repairs and maintenance, it is important to note that the HST applies to the total invoice amount including material and labour, while PST applies only to the material component.

    Budgeting for the Harmonized Sales Tax 09 (2)

    David Pylyp; Groups are forming to fight and petition against this tax grab. There will be a major impact to all those condo owners that are on a fixed income and will have a resultant increase in their maintenence fees due to the taxes, exclusive of any normal utility and expenses paid 2009 / 2010. When is it enough?

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    The High 5's of Credit

    When you are looking to borrow you need to consider that the economic climate will dictate how a lender will look at a deal. How the lender will come to the decision to approve a deal is different in 2007 as to what it is in 2009. Here are some basics if you are going to apply for credit and what you should consider.

    Lenders are in business to make (not lose) money. Consequently when a bank lends money it wants to ensure that it will get paid back. (the same as a borrower expects to come out of the end of a transaction with more than they went in with). To maximize the possibility of being paid back, the bank wants to make sure that there is sufficient assurance that a person can and will pay back a loan. The lender must consider the 5 "C's" of Credit each time it makes a loan.

    Is the general impression you make on the potential lender. The lender will form a subjective opinion as to whether or not you are sufficiently trustworthy to repay the loan. Your educational background and experience in your field of work will be included. The length of time at your current employment and your current residence will be considered. The longer you have been at both, the higher you will score on the character scale. In 2007 there was little concern that your future might be in jeopardy. In 2009 every source of income is scrutinized as whether it is feasible that it will continue.

    Is the extra security the lender has to cover the loan. In real estate transactions this generally means the property. If for some reason, you cannot repay the mortgage, the bank wants to know that the real estate the mortgage was taken out for is good and marketable real estate. A current real estate appraisal will determine the value for the property in today's market. Some lenders will limit themselves to the type of property they are going to accept. In the case of a foreclosure or Power of Sale, the lender doesn’t get the property. They have to apply to the courts to have them placed back on the market for resale to repay the loan. This takes time and money. Lenders will charge for the risk accordingly.

    Is the money you personally have invested in the purchase, otherwise known as your down payment. The more of your own money you invest as a down payment, the more likely that you will do all you can to maintain your payment obligations. Owners with the smallest downpayments present the greatest risk and accordingly the highest CMHC Premiums. Capital is also reflected by your ability and willingness to save money and accumulate assets. The higher your net worth, the more you have as a buffer for repayment in the event you run into a financial set-back. Saved or earned capital is more highly regarded than borrowed funds.

    Is the evaluation of your habits in performing credit obligations. The information about your credit history is stored at the "credit bureau" and indicates how well you paid your bills over the last 6 years. All major credit cards, auto loans, leases etc. are reported to the credit bureau. A lender will evaluate your ability to maintain your obligations and try and determine how well you live within your means. Some individuals make the mistake of not paying the minimum monthly obligations on loans and credit cards with the expectation of making a larger payment the following month. These missed payments appear on their credit report branding them as chronic "late-payers" for the next 6 years.

    To repay the loan is probably the most critical of the five factors. The lender will want to know exactly how you intend to repay the loan. The lender will consider your income as it relates to the loan that you are applying for. Does the monthly carrying costs of the loan represent less than or equal to 32% of your total monthly income? If it is, the probability of you successfully repaying the loan is fairly high. When you include your personal debts, loans, cards, etc., a lender will likely not approve your total debt load of higher than 40% of your total monthly income. Prospective lenders will also want to know about any other sources of income you may have to repay the loan, if your steady income stream is interrupted. What savings can you fall back on? What property do you have that you could sell to cover payments?
    The biggest factor that people are having the most difficult time with today: These principles above change completely depending on what the future economy is predicted to do. For the past few years we have had a rising economy. Increasing property values. More fear of people losing their jobs. Even if they do, the value of their property has risen so they can sell and get out of trouble. Now we are in the midst of a declining economy. It is expected that in the near future many jobs will be eliminated. House sales will fall along with the value of homes. Yet this has not been the case.

    Chris Molder from Tridac Mortgages points out that in many countries other than Canada it is difficult to obtain a mortgage on a purchase with less than 50 or 60% of the purchase price as the down payment.

    Our strong financial system in Canada provides a 5% minimun downpayment program with a CMHC Mortgage Insurance fee payable. No Banking institution is permitted to advance greater than 80% of the purchase price or appraised values.

    When I was in the Trust Company (Financing Commercial Transactions) Corporate lending policy post the '81 and '82 interest rate peaks were limited to 66% of the appraised value. I wonder how that would change things today if everyone needed 35% down.

    Your comments are invited.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    Buyers, check condo status certificates carefully

    In the course of my real estate law practice in Toronto, I often review condominium status certificates for purchasers. Usually this is a fairly routine function, where the lawyer looks for arrears in common expense payments, underfunded reserve funds, litigation by or against the condominium corporation, special assessments and similar items which could impact on the purchaser or her bank account.

    Unfortunately, the contents of about four or five out of every 10 status certificates I examine are at odds with the advertised real estate listing, the agreement of purchase and sale or the seller's registered title.

    The areas where the certificates differ from the other documents fall under several headings:

    Common expenses

    More than half of the status certificates I review show common expenses, which disagree with the advertised figures. This is often caused by sellers who advise their listing agents of the wrong amounts, and by real estate agents who fail to verify the numbers with property managers.

    Sometimes, when a real estate listing runs through the condominium corporation's year-end, and the common expenses are increased, the listings are not updated with the new figures.

    When the discrepancy is revealed, there is often a tug-of-war as to who will absorb the difference, which may be just a few dollars a month, or occasionally, as much as $50 or $100.

    Special assessments

    The same thing happens with special assessments. In Ontario, the standard form Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) condominium agreement of purchase and sale contains a warranty that there are no special assessments contemplated by the condominium corporation.

    Unfortunately, with the aging condominium stock in Ontario, special assessments are becoming increasingly commonplace.

    The problem is that a unit owner may not know that a special assessment is under consideration by the board at the time an offer is accepted.

    In cases like this, the seller or the real estate agent often winds up eating the cost.

    Parking and locker mix-ups

    For some unexplained reasons, many Ontario condominiums have numbers posted on parking and locker units which differ from the numbers on the registered deeds.

    For example, a parking or locker space with a painted number 99 may be shown on the registered title as unit 53 level A.

    Unit mix-ups: the ultimate headache

    Every so often I come across buildings where two or more owners are actually living in units they don't own. This usually happens at the time of title transfer from the developer to the first owners, and is not discovered for years.

    Nobody wants to have a deed to the unit next door. It becomes very difficult to sell your condominium, when the time comes, if you don't have a deed to it.

    This actually happened on closing day in 2005 for 124 units in a downtown Toronto highrise on Jarvis St., but was corrected at the very last second.

    The moral of the story: Never purchase a condominium unit – new or used – without cross-checking the unit numbers on the deeds with the floor plans. A few dollars invested in the floor plans are cheap protection to avoid a disaster.

    Several lessons emerge from all of this:

    • Sellers and listing agents should be careful to advertise the correct common expenses and to amend them during the listing period if a new budget is passed.
    • Unit and level numbers for parking and locker spaces can and do get mixed up. Posted numbers don't always match the deeds. Sellers, buyers and agents should take care to verify unit numbers and location at the time the offer is signed.
    • When special assessments are being contemplated, they should be disclosed to owners at the earliest opportunity, and sellers should disclose this to their listing agents. Sellers should also check with the condominium board or management to see if any assessments are being considered.
    • Deeded numbers for condo units should always be compared with the registered survey plans for the condominium levels. They're not always right.

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

    David Pylyp One unmentioned item is the ownership or exclusive use of parking spots that can greatly improve your chance to sell and your value in renting or selling the parking exclusive of your unit. This also creates an issue about collecting money (parking rental income) for an exclusive use asset and the concept of selling a parking unit to someone who only ownes parking spaces within building.

    Your comments are always invited.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Adding Value to your experience

    Since I originated from a Finance and Business background in the mid 80's, yeah that long ago, I have been using what was called Lotus 123. I used lotus for years and then strangely it just became Excell.

    For the benefit of my prospects and normal business when buying I will often create this worksheet as an investment summary or answer income to qualify questions. Human nature seems to think in Monthly dollars amounts and not the grand totals.


    There are a number of variables here.
    Interest Rate is calculated by the posted rate weekly, Land Transfer Taxes are variable based on where you purchase. Land Transfer Calculation Link Do you qualify for a Land Transfer Tax exemption or rebate I usually take from here. I can prepare one for you rather easily on my laptop and send it along as an email. We will, during the course of our shopping adventure look at a number of these to clearly understand out monthly long term commitments.

    An average Condo purchase in Downtown Toronto will include taxes of $1800 per year plus maintenance number that could be as high as $500 plus per month. The newest trend seems to be montkly parking via valet at $450 per month. Better to have bought the parking when offered at $15,000 a few years ago.

    Why are more agents not using this technology? I have handed this out in both printed form and memory stick or email to hundreds of agents, but have yet to see it applied.

    Would you as a consumer be interested to understand the cost of your closing, the largest purchase of your lifetime? This worksheet is now under revision for the effects of Harmonized Sales Tax. I welcome your input as to what else can be included.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Artificial Interest Rates are the crack Cocaine of Real Estate

    One of the best quotes I've seen this year: "... artificially low interest rates are the crack cocaine driving the real estate market." (Garth Turner).

    The Real Estate "Spring" Market came late this year but it did arrive and sales are on pace to match last year.

    The "Spring" Market for 2010 is facing a One Two Punch - a probable rise in the Bank of Canada Borrowing Rate in April and, the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax in July. These two factors will dramatically lessen affordability which seems likely to drive down both prices and sales.

    This means that the next 6 to 9 months may be both the best time to buy and the best time to sell.

    For many buyers it's all about affordability and it hasn't been this good in a long, long time.

    For sellers looking to capture the capital value of their homes (downsizers, whether by choice or circumstance) this is likely about as good as it's going to get ... prices have risen for 13 years in a row. And you can make a case that the peak in 2009 may be very much like the peak in 1989 when prices fell for the next 7 years and didn't return to 1989 levels for almost 13 years.

    I work with a number of realtors in helping their downsizing clients achieve their goals with respect to retirement income and I'd like to share some of what I've learned.

    I am pleased to invite you to attend my upcoming seminar - Downsizing: The Next Wave in Real Estate

    In this seminar I will review the latest stats on sales levels and pricing for the GTA Real Estate market and discuss where I think the market is heading next year

    I will also present several case studies to illustrate how downsizers may best achieve their financial goals by acting now. For example, at age 55 Carol downsized and 10 years later she had grown her initial $200,000 to more than $315,000 but, even more important, she had secured lifetime income of more than $22,000 per year ... with income tax at a rate of less than 5%.

    With more people than ever looking to downsize it’s never been more important for realtors to be able to offer them options which may help them optimize their income needs. The benefits are numerous: clients achieve their goals; clients feel more comfortable in setting a realistic market price; clients tell their friends and family how well their downsizing move worked for them.

    Isn't it worth 90 minutes of your time to learn about an option which may help you become one of the realtors of choice for the fastest growing market segment?

    10:00am Friday September 11th

    Homewood Suites by Hilton, Oakville

    RSVP to David Pylyp at 647 218 2414 or email

    I look forward to meeting you.

    Best regards,
    Warren J. Huntley
    Retirement Income Specialist
    Braley Winton Financial Group
    Office: 905.815.1035
    Cellular: 416.500.4064
    Toll Free: 877.372.9022