Monday, February 20, 2012

WOW Did the SELLER ever get the best deal...

The lack of homes for sale continues into the 2012 spring real estate market in Toronto. Older homes do present a challenge when you want the property but may be forced by competition to waive your Home Inspection Condition.

My personal advice is to endure a few sales and bidding cycles; have a home inspector standing by who can assist in a walk through. With any older home they can only report on what can be seen. They are not permitted to open any walls or drill any holes. That is why thermal imaging is so vital.

A simple 20-item home inspection checklist for buyers. The home inspection system is far from perfect, but it is the best way to safeguard your interest.

Related: 20 things to look for in a home inspection

Inspections are imperfect because in most cases the inspector is not permitted to look behind walls or under floors which means many potential problems are hidden. But Andrew Radomski of Pillar to Post, a professional home inspection company, tells me that inspection firms can identify plenty of potential trouble spots. These include:

Obsolete knob and tube wiring. This is found in homes built prior to the 1950s in most of the original City of Toronto. It is hard to get insurance if your home has knob and tube wiring.

A 60-amp electrical service when the norm today is either 100 or 200. Again this will lead to higher insurance premiums.

Old galvanized plumbing. It rusts, can leak and plug up, slowing water flow. Old lead pipes are a health risk. Any roof over 20 years old should probably be partially or completely replaced.

Old foundations will gradually deteriorate, causing leaks, and are expensive to repair.

Windows can be expensive to replace, if in poor condition.

Some firms use thermal imaging technology and, for an additional fee, can identify problems with the structure, moisture leakage or air leakage in a home. They can also better identify when there is insufficient insulation, plumbing leaks or poor construction, which can lead to problems down the road.

Mark Weisleder is a real estate lawyer.

Have professional full time people in your corner....
Don't be rushed into a decision, Another house will come along.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mom needs a place

Its getting to be a bit too much to look after. Its not your fault. But you need to deal with this too. Its family. Having an elder Mom or Dad come live with you is just not the solution.

You need something that still provides some dignity and independence, an opportunity for activity and lifestyle without the obligations of cooking and cleaning. Somewhere that has a full dining facility and health services available.

Full Dining Room, Exercise, Pub or Recreation Room, Swimming Pool, Activities, Tuck Shop and scheduled excursions. Have a peek at the details

There are currently a few units available and you should consider what the lifestyle can provide for an adult needing mild assistance. One bedroom plus den and two bedroom units are available. If you would rather be in Toronto west at Humber Bay Shore, Hearthstone by the Bay on Marine Parade is equally elegant.

If you are dealing with a situation like this I welcome your inquiries. Feel free to reach out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Understanding Maintenance Fees Toronto Condos

Lets have a look at and compare what makes the maintenance fees in your building.

First Lets establish a few things,

Your furnace unit consumes electricity; usually through a heat exchange unit in a central part of the condo or maybe you are blessed with two. The heat exchange units take warmth (hot water heated from a boiler) from the coil and disperse it into your unit. The cost of operating the fan blower is yours, the costs of heating the water as to your maintenance fees. The unit is inside your unit and operates from the Common Expenses. The liability for maintenance and annual inspections is yours although most buildings have annual maintenance inspections.

Having a building schedule an annual inspection, cleaning and filter replacement is much cheaper than you going out and contracting someone yourself. (IE $50 per unit includes filter or $285 per visit to book your own HVAC technician) There are savings in mass purchasing power.

What factors will effect the Maintenence Costs in a building?

Vertical Height ( How many floors are occupied)
Number of Units per floor
Services Offered
Number of Elevators
Staffing on Hand for both Security Concierge and Cleaning,
Staff monitoring the Rec Center as Social Recreation Guides.
Two Towers Sharing a Recreation Center
How much technology is in place for Cameras and Security.

Avoidable Additional Costs

We could scrimp on Window Washing, Landscaping, and Garage Sweeping. We could wait till 9 - 5 for the elevator technician ( They charge a premium for after hours to release you. Toronto Fire also charges if it is not an Emergency.) We could turn down the thermostat in the winter to 65 like my Dad did to save money. Turn down the Hot water temp and take shorter showers. These are all municipal services that are billed directly from the City to the building. Has Hydro Electric raised their fees in the last 5 years? By what percentage? Will they continue to do so? Have water rates increased.. Absolutely.

Can we save on garbage removal; Yes, actually most building pay a separate garbage pick up fee both for recycle and garbage. (Tipping Rates) If we dispose of less we would pay less. SO do we want magazines and Yellow Pages delivered to the building? What about Canada Post and Bulk mail advertisers? Is everything online now? Can you opt out?

It may sound great to have a 70,000 square foot indoor gym and social club, A full time Social Co ordinator, Outside Running Track, A Disco on the Top Floor and the Sky deck. All these marvelous upgrades need maintenance that will add to your fees in future years. If your gym is part of two or three individual condo (towers) buildings that are tied by a common Recreation Center It can be very challenging to set rules or make changes unless you have a mandate from all three towers.

Average... Whats Average?
We have been doing an Annual Common Charge Survey of the properties we manage. As you would expect, there is quite a variation in fees. The 2011 survey was done on 248 hi-rise condominiums comprising 52,406 units. The average common charge per unit per month was $606.47, the average suite size in the survey was 1,057 square feet and the average cost per square foot per month was 57.4 cents.
John Oakes President Brookfield

So in reality the tallest most crowded monolithe structure that is stand alone will be the most cost efficient. The buildings with 30 + floors and 18 suites per floor will always surpass the lower (high rize) building that have 6 to 12 floors. The more residents that share your rec center also make this more efficient. Having 12 people in the elevator every time is more efficient.

Lets Examine individual Line Items/ as a percentage of Gross Revenues.
Assuming you are a high rise with a 300 unit population with modern glass and concrete slab construction. (vs Brick Exteriors) and underground parking.

Hydro 9.6 %
Gas 12.5 %
Water 4.8 %
Security 18.7%
Cleaning Main/ 7.5%
Assessment Repairs 21.2%*
Condo Mgmt Fee 6.3%

Total as % Income 80.6%
Contribution to reserve is now recommended at a minimum 15%*

NB* Toronto has in the last few years had the mildest winters in recent history. All of these assumptions (savings) change if the weather turns colder. There was no snow removal expense as there was no snow.

How is life in your building? Tell me about it....