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First Time Home Buyers Incentive: A Genius Program

By | knowledge, resource | No Comments

My previous professional experience at CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) and AIG United Guaranty, which is now called Canada Guaranty, has taught me a great deal about various federal housing incentive programs. I will never forget the influx of new housing policies that were implemented in various real estate investment sectors. I also vividly remember their mechanisms to impact market movements either to boost 2005-2007, or to slow down during 2008-2009.

We are still witnessing the explosion of radical changes that have been introduced to mortgage rules, which caused a huge shock in the Toronto real estate market since 2017. There is now a 15% foreign buyers tax, a stress test for insured and then uninsured mortgages for purchase and refinance when changing the lender, a restriction of mortgage insurance to owner-occupied dwellings, shorter maximum amortization periods for a purchase price of less than $1 million, a minimum credit score of 600, a maximum 39% gross debt service ratio and 44% total debt service ratio calculated using the higher stress-test rates, an increase in the mortgage default insurance premium payable on insured mortgages to as high as 4%, just to name a few of these measures.

So I am truly impressed with the government’s most recent initiative called “The First Time Home Buyer Incentive” which becomes effective on September 2nd, 2019 and is administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This new program is of course aimed to make homeownership easier and more affordable to first time home buyers. I really feel this incentive program is a “real gift” to first home buyers, creating some hope and support to such an important and stressful process.

Let’s review the main highlights of ‘The First Time Home Buyer Incentive’ together:

  1. This incentive will be available to first-time homebuyers with qualified annual household incomes up to $120,000.
  2. It will allow eligible first-time homebuyers to apply for financing a portion of their home purchase through a form of a shared equity mortgage with the federal government for an insured mortgage through CMHC, Genworth or Canada Guaranty.
  3. The buyer’s mortgage plus the loan granted cannot be more than four times their qualified annual household income.
  4. The loan is interest free from a fund run by CMHC, matching the buyer’s down payment. The borrower can repay it at any time without a pre-payment penalty.
  5. The payment free loan is 5% for the purchase price on a re-sale home, or 10% on a new-build or pre-sale home. Doubling the incentive for purchasers of new homes would definitely encourage a supply new housing.
  6. This will help qualified first-time homebuyers purchase their first home with reduced monthly mortgage payment. As per CMHC, the borrowers will save up to $286 on a monthly mortgage payment for a $500,000 purchase of a newly built home.
  7. The loan, plus any equity uplift on that portion, is repayable to the government upon the sale of the home or after 25 years, or whichever happens sooner. The government shares in the upside and downside of the changes in the property value.

These are all great and very reassuring facts for the Canadian real estate market, especially for us in the GTA. It seems that the federal government is putting its own money at risk for several potential reasons, which could be:

  • to recover Canadian real estate market
  • to make up for the mess they recently caused
  • to create certainty and stability
  • to boost the real estate market
  • to encourage the buyers who are currently on the fence to start investing
  • to send a message to Canadians that we are at the bottom of the real estate market

The question is if the government is starting to invest in a potential equity uplift, shouldn’t we as well? I would love to hear your comments.

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With love and gratitude

Divorce

By | knowledge, resource

The dictionary meaning of divorce is one thing and the meaning we give to it on a conscious, unconscious, emotional, logical, legal level is another. Early in our lives, divorce could have been non-existent in our vocabulary or simply had no direct consequences in our personal life. As we grow older, we experience a whole range of meaning that we are moved or shaped by. Acknowledging and/or speaking the truth about divorce is one of the biggest fears of all time. It could feel like our identity has collapsed, our beliefs and values shattered. Fear of failing, disappointing, hurting, losing our loved ones, our purpose and our identity can weigh heavily on one’s shoulders. We suffer and feel completely lost when we are in our weakest spiritual, emotional, physical, mental and financial state. My divorce process definitely had all these effects on me. It empowered me, disempowered me, challenged me, made me grow, connected and disconnected me, inspired me, freed me, and most importantly made me more authentic, vulnerable and compassionate to myself and to others.

We are raised to open up and share our happiest emotions to the world with pride once we are engaged or get married, and to hide our darkest emotions when we separate. Though, the truth is both marriage and separation are a celebration of a new beginning and ending, aren’t they? So, let’s start by celebrating that and know we are not alone on this journey. There is a whole community out there to support us and give us the strength we need to move forward. Here is some helpful information about divorce and real estate to make things a little easier for you:

1. Buy Out

You need to decide who can and will actually afford to buy the other out or whether you’d prefer to liquidate and divide your assets. Confirm with your mortgage broker or your bank that you will each qualify for a mortgage on your own. I chose to buy out yet to be the mortgage qualifier on both ends. Avoid doing that if possible, as this would have a very negative impact on your own personal qualification in the future.

2. Children

I am so grateful to my beautiful son, who was 20 years old at the time and lived with me (and still does) after the separation. However, this is not always as easy. Bird nesting seems to be a more common alternative for divorced families with younger kids when the kids stay in the marital home and the parents come and go when it is their allocated time with the children.

3. Home Evaluation

You’ll need a bank appraisal, a letter of opinion by a local realtor before coming to the market. Of course, none of the mentioned assessments guarantees your home sale price until an actual written firm offer is accepted and your property is sold. I personally did all of the above during my divorce to make it as transparent as possible.

4. Home Equity

The estimated market value at the time of your legal separation determines your home equity. This again helped me to divide assets based on a mutual agreed separation date, which allowed me to eliminate unnecessary arguments along the way. Also, inheritance money invested in a property impacts the buy-out, real estate fees, and/or land transfer taxes on buying another property.

5. Housing

You may want to stay at your primary or secondary home, with family, rent a longer-term Airbnb, an executive furnished rental. And if no such option is available, you may stay in separate rooms in the same house, or even have one move into the basement or separated space. I kept our primary residence, consequently keeping every member of my family calm from my inspiring son to my vulnerable parents and my little dogs that I had to support.

6. Interim Expenses

A line of credit and a joint interim account are great sources for managing up-front costs associated with the sale that you can divide these expenses out of the proceeds of the sale. Sometimes, one of the spouses pays these fees and the other gets less equity back. I took on that responsibility which was a real headache and there was no other way around it for me. However, I would not personally recommend this approach to anyone, if there is an alternative option. If you are limited in budget, negotiate to pay certain fees such as legal, staging, repair etc when the house closes.

7. Mediation

An approved mediator for both spouses could eliminate a big portion of your legal fees and facilitate open communication between you, the lawyers and the real estate team from finalizing division of the assets, pricing, selling, financing, separation agreement write up, divorce agreement etc. Make sure to hire a mediator who is impartial. I happened to have a family friend mediator, whom my ex-husband listened to and who I respected. If I knew what I know now, I would have hired an approved mediator by both of us without giving grief to a family friend and more importantly to have someone who could have had no connection or emotional attachment to either of us.

I would love to help you making your divorce process easier, by holding your hand and earning your trust along the way. Let me assist in anyway that I can.

Subscribe on our newsletter and contact us with any real estate questions you may have. Don’t forget to follow and like us on social media.

With love and gratitude,

Mitra

Prepare Your Home For Sale

By | knowledge, resource

In the last 3 decades of my life, I have lived in 3 countries and moved from one home to another a total 12 times. During this period, I also purchased and sold 4 principal residences, and finally, as a realtor I have witnessed hundreds of home owners’ struggles in planning their move to their next dream home.

Although every home is different and may require additional work to get it in pristine condition, I soon realized there are some common turn-offs most buyers have when looking for a house.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing your home for sale:

Check and repair plumbing

Plugged drains and leaky faucets are two of my least favorite home maintenance issues. I also know these are the most common problems all homeowners face with their plumbing. What I learned is to identify and fix these common problems rather than avoiding them. This could be as simple as checking sinks being clogged at the top or pop-up plug in bathroom sinks.

Clean your home

I always consider house cleaning as a seasonal deep cleaning duty. I call it spring cleaning, summer cleaning, fall cleaning, winter cleaning! It personally gives me motivation, meaning and purpose. At the end it is all about mindset, isn’t it? Clean your home from top to bottom until it sparkles inside and out. Have fun with the process and envision the outcome. Clean the gutters. Pressure wash walkways. Wash windows. Clean bathrooms (re-caulk the tub, shower, and sink). Air out all rooms. Remove cobwebs. Wax floors. Polish appliances and faucets. Dust everything from furniture to light fixtures, fans, bookshelves. Vacuum every day. Steam clean any carpets.

Conquer your mess

My incredible son is a passionate collector of all kind of sports gadgets and tennis shoes. My mom is a collector of dishes. My dad is a collector of comforters for our dogs and I am messy with my paper work (thank god we become more green every day 😉 . So, imagine the serious and engaging conversations I had to have with every member of the family when our house was on the market. We simply want buyers to focus on how awesome our space is, don’t we? So, pack up everything you don’t need and think as if you are getting ready to move out and start a new beginning. Get rid of any extra or oversized items that could make your space look smaller than it really is. You may want to rent a storage unit until the house sells. 

De-personalize your home

Buyers want to envision themselves in your home, so remove anything overly personal, like family photos in the hallway or your kids’ artwork on the fridge. Get rid of any art or décor that might conflict with people’s different tastes. I had to remove my Persian rugs and decorations to make it more neutral. Let’s just keep it simple.

Don’t be home during showings

Let’s face it, most buyers want to look at a house without the owners telling them stories or giving them advice. I had to make sure my parents were not home during the showings specially my sociable dad who loves to chat with everybody even with his broken and limited English. Buyers also find it difficult to visualize living in the house with the owners around.

Eliminate odors

The smell of cooking are big turn-offs to potential buyers. In my household, my mom cooks rice almost everyday. Although I can personally give up everything to taste the basmati rice, I know that the rice smell can be very overwhelming to some people. So, if cooking was unavoidable, I opened windows to let in fresh air. Cigarettes are another big turn off. If you are smoker, consider taking it outside as cigarette smell can be a deal-breaker. Instead give your home a lived-in flavor. Put some fresh-cut flowers in a vase by the sink. Place a basket of fruit on the kitchen counter. Place a few small potted plants in an empty corner. Spray the bathrooms with a zesty, clean smell. Keep your home smelling fresh. Bake bread, cookies or pies on the day of the showing. This will make buyers feel home and welcome in the house.

Enhance your entire home’s curb appeal

Don’t spend all your time indoors. Make sure your home’s exterior looks excellent as well. I have been lucky to have my parents, nature lovers, maintaining our outdoor life experience. My dad enjoys trimming our shrubs and my mom has a blast adding rows of potted plants along the walkway which has made a huge difference to our home curb appeal. I am sure you will find away to get inspired to do so too. Tidy up the outside. Mow the lawn, remove weeds, remove dead plants and plant flowers. Also remember to remove trash cans and store them in the side or the garage. Park down the street or in the garage. Keep garage door closed. Spray down corridors and sidewalks. Place a few flower pots in the porch or near the front door. Add lighting to your landscaping.

Fix the doors

I once missed the peak of the market because of my obsession to change my front door. Please don’t do what I did. However, make your doors easy to open and close and more attractive to potential buyers. Doors might stick or close improperly due to faulty locks, handles, latches, or door frames. For serious door and lock problems, call a professional locksmith. A fresh coat of paint will make the front door stand out.

Give spirit and character to your home

I am personally obsessed with home décor. I can come up with tons of ideas to give spirit and different energy to a tiny home space. I get inspired by every opportunity to move furniture around in my own home space and find it is the perfect set up every time, till next time. I invite you as well to change the energy and make your home original. Use every corner of it with purpose so that the buyers can see themselves in it. Turn your unused living room into a conversation area. Help buyers picture themselves relaxing into your family room. Create a theme for your office space, guest room, study room. An inviting chair, a tray with tea/coffee cup and an art book can turn an empty corner into an inspiring sitting area. An Aix-En Provence soap in a decorative tray can make your tiny powder room the charm of a floor. A unique welcome mat will make buyers feel more at home.

Highlight focal points

Bring buyers attention to any awe-deserving element with bright colors or accents pieces. Believe it or not this year, I had craving for yellow colour, the colour of prosperity and beauty. So, I painted my home ceilings yellow and added yellow throw pillows among others which draw my eyes towards them and every morning I wake up to the most beautiful picturesque wall to wall window with sunrise and greenery background. Sky is the limit with our imagination. What do you think of a bonsai tree on the mantle showcasing your fireplace?

Let mother nature fill your home with love

Showcase focal areas or empty corners of your home by placing a few potted plants in your living room/den, kitchen. Potted plants or a few pretty buds in a vase can help bring world of energy into your home space. I spice up my home’s flavour daily with fresh flowers from my garden and use palo santo wood as incense brought from Chile by my friend. You may want to add a bowl of fresh fruits in your kitchen or something else from the nature that talks to you.

Light it up! 

I love natural light. In fact, in my home you don’t see any window coverings because of it. Natural light is a free gift and brings so much aliveness to our daily life. Bring it in with abundance and add floor or table lamps to areas that are dim. A bright, cheery room looks much more inviting.

Organize closets and drawers

Organized and well-arranged closets give buyers the impression that you have taken good care of your home. I have a rule in my household to box winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter. This allows me to make our closet spaces airy. How is it for you? It is a good practice to invest in some boxes, dividers that will help you getting more organized. Remove any items you don’t need immediately. Messy closets give the appearance that your home doesn’t have enough storage space.

Paint

Walls, trim, baseboards, and cabinets might need to be repainted to give a fresh look to your home. Paint your walls a neutral color that will appeal to a wide range of buyers. Any off-white, gray, or cream color is a good choice. Avoid bright loud colors as they make your decor extremely personalized. I remember when we painted our home from coffee to Champagne colour, I felt our living/dining room was much brighter and bigger. Isn’t it amazing how a choice of colour can give a different feel to your home? Hiring a professional painter might be a good idea to save time and leverage as they know what kind of paint  and colour to buy for different areas of your home.

Take care of pets

To most people, pets are members of the family, as they are for me and my family. Unfortunately, dogs are also messy and in some cases their odor can be a huge turn-off to potential buyers. I remember last time I was on the market to sell my home, I had several things to take care of, including my two dogs. After doing a thorough cleaning of the house, it is best to keep pets out until the house is sold. Take your pet to a friend or family member. I took my dogs to my sister and  they had a blast together for a couple of weeks.  If you don’t have that option available, remove pets when you have scheduled house showings.

Subscribe on our newsletter and ask any real estate questions you might have in mind.  Don’t forget to follow and like us on social media.

With gratitude,

Mitra

Pre-construction Condo Guide

By | knowledge, resource

Did you know that each year Toronto welcomes 100,000 to 150,000 immigrants? Did you know that we need about 50,000 new homes each year to welcome the new comers who also need shelter and a place to call home? Did you know that we need about 100,000 new construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area to simply satisfy the demand for newcomers? Did you know that the lack of supply and huge demand in housing is constantly driving up the rentals market in the GTA?

These are just a few facts for you to think about when planning your next real estate investment opportunity. Investing in pre-construction condo projects has been one of the more lucrative investments to many real estate investors in the GTA over the last couple of decades. In this post, I would like to examine questions“why”, “what” and the “how to” so you are able to make an educated decision with confidence in your next pre-construction condo of choice:

Why a pre-construction condo?

1.Great long term return on investment

Managing condominiums is a passive form of investing. This allows you to purchase and make significant profit on brand new condos (buy at a discount and sell at a premium). Make sure you pick the pre-construction projects that will help maximize your returns. Condos are more affordable and have been holding their value better during the market and economic downturns.

2. Low-maintenance

Condo Fees in new buildings are usually quite low.That is partly because the fees are estimated years in advance before the condo is built, and partly because they developers rarely know the actual costs of running the building.

3. Build up your equity

You don’t need a mortgage during the construction process, while you are building your equity. For example, to purchase a condominium at $600,000, you simply need to invest $120,000 (20%). It means that for every dollar that you put towards the new condominium, the developer is putting in $8. You essentially have an 80% interest free loan from the developer for the duration of construction period.

What to consider before buying a pre-construction condo

1.Think ahead

From the day you purchase your unit and the date you take possession, a good amount of time will pass. In fact, expect to wait 2 to 4 years until your condo is completed with a good chance of further delays. If you need to sell the deed to your property before your condo has been completed for any reason, you may have the option of doing so on assignment, given the developer’s approval.

2. Condo fees

Maintenance fees for brand new units typically start out lower than those you would pay on a resale condo. That being said, there’s a good chance that the fees will increase during your first couple of years of ownership

3. Deposit

Deposits on pre-construction units range from 15-20% although this could be as low as 5% as special incentive in some cases. Here is what your payment structure would most likely look like:

• At signing: anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000+

• The remainder of 5% downpayment: to be paid within 30 days

• A further 5%: due somewhere between 90-120 days

• Another 5%: between 270-365 days • The final 5% on the interim occupancy date

4. Taxes

You must pay HST on new units. Fortunately, in most cases, you will receive a full or partial rebate. The rules and requirements differ depending on whether you and/or one of your immediate relatives will be theend user of the unit, or whether you’ll be renting it out. Be sure you get all of the facts before making a purchase by talking to your real estate lawyer and accountant.

5. Inventory

Getting early access to a new development may have big benefits including lower prices, developer incentives and more choice of floor plans. Remaining inventory can also come with some additional advantages including an extended deposit period, cash back on final closing, waived assignment fees, or free parking.

6. View

Spectacular views can be a major selling point for buyers. The unit you choose should offer more than a breathtaking view. Unless a unit is directly facing the lake or a park, keep in mind your view could be obstructed by a future development.

How To Purchase?

1.Your realtor

Your realtor’s expertise starts from the time she/he assists you with the right project, location, price point, floor plan, exposure and view and the right terms and conditions all aligned with your ultimate investment strategy.

2. Floor plans

When you find the right development, your realtor will assist you in finding the best available floor plans. You will look at factors such as square footage and its potential profitability while matching your preferences.

3. Sign your agreement

Once you’ve found the ideal unit, it’s time to sign your agreement and seal the deal. Make sure you have all the required documents with you at the time of signing.

4. Cooling-off period

In Ontario, you have 10 calendar days to reconsider the purchase of a new condo known as a cooling off period. During this period, get your real estate lawyer to review your agreement.If you change your mind for any reason during the 10-day cooling off period, you can back out of the contract and have your first deposit returned without any deduction or penalty.

5. Pre-approval

Obtaining mortgage pre-approval is one of the crucial steps to condo ownership. Since your pre-construction development won’t be registered yet, this process will be different than the purchase of a resale unit.

6. Customization

Around a year before your unit is completed, you will have the chance to choose the finishes that match your tastes and design preferences.

7. Interim occupancy

When the condo is built and ready to be moved into, there is a period of ‘interim occupancy’,where you can take possession and/or move into the unit. You may be able to rent out your unit subject to the developer’s approval. During this period, you do not yet own the condo; you simply pay the builder an amount roughly equal to what their mortgage payment + condo fees + taxes will equal. No land transfer nor mortgage have yet taken place.

8. Condo Registration

Once a building has passed all the city inspections and gone through all the processes to become a legal entity, the condominium is officially registered. During this registration period, condo ownership is transferred to you and mortgages come into effect. You officially become the owner. It usually happens 4-8 months after people begin to move in after the interim occupancy period.

9. Builder Closing Costs

When the unit is officially registered and you close on the purchase, you’ll be responsible for all sorts of closing costs that don’t apply to resale units. These ‘builder adjustments’ apply to all new construction projects and include development and education costs, HST on appliances and utility connections fees. If you’re looking at taking over someone else’s contract via an assignment, make sure to check if the original purchaser capped the amount of these costs when they originally negotiated the unit.

10. Reserve Fund

When you buy pre-construction condo, you’ll need to contribute 2 months condo fees to the condo’s reserve fund (the emergency fund). This usually happens at the time of closing.

11. HST

Unlike re-sale condominiums, new condos are subject to HST. If you’re an end-user living in the unit yourself, you’ll likely qualify for an HST rebate and most builder prices assume you are, and so this rebate is already factored in. If you’re an investor, there is a different rebate and you’re only eligible if you rent the condo out for at least a year and prove it. If not, you may have to pay thousands of dollars in HST upon closing. Make sure to get legal advice about whether you qualify for the HST rebate before you buy a condo.

Don’t forget to subscribe on our newsletter and remember to follow and like us on social media. Do you have any real estate questions? Feel free to reach out. We are here to help.

Yours truly, 

Mitra Nobakht Eivaly 

Salesperson, Mitra Moves You Team 

Keller Williams Referred Realty

Choosing A Realtor

By | knowledge, resource

There is nothing more exciting than stepping into the unknown, enjoying and trusting the ride. Selling a home and/or buying one are difficult waters to navigate in today’s real estate market and often require a complete leap of faith that we all take sooner or later in life, to build wealth worth spreading. This important decision will lead to one of life’s ultimate milestones of home ownership, that come with its own rewards, as well as its own lessons. Now that you know why and how you want to achieve your goal, it is crucial to figure out what steps you need to take to make this process seamless and stress free. Here are 10 tips for you to consider in your research for the right realtor for you.

1. Action plan

When looking for the ideal realtor, always ask for their action plan, marketing strategy and services they offer in the process of selling or buying homes. Of course, many realtors offer similar services. The difference lies is their plan of implementation, execution and ultimately results.

2. Availability

Select a realtor, who is available whenever you are. Regardless how good a realtor is, if she/he can’t meet you at your preferred time, the relationship will not work. You need someone who can work with yourschedule and be flexible to your needs. A conflicting schedule between you and your realtor will make the process difficult.

3. Commission

Don’t choose a realtor based on commission alone, although this seems to have become a trend in Toronto’s real estate market. Remember that the least expensive isn’t always the best choice. Always ask what services are included and/or excluded as part of their professional fee. Focus on what you will get and not what you give, don’t forget that wise saying that “we get what we pay for.”

4. Communication

Make sure you select a realtor who is a great communicator and one who listens and then asks a lot of quality questions. You can find out a lot about a person by their answers and questions. A realtor who takes the time to get to know you, your goals, and your priorities is building a successful pathway to a foundation of extraordinary customer service. A realtor who regularly asks about your expectations and your opinions on their recommendations usually means that they have your interests and satisfaction wholeheartedly in mind.

5. Database

Ask the realtor you are interviewing about her/his database of clients and current networking partners. You also may want to find out about the types of clients and transactions they specialize in. Do they network or know local business owners in the area? These businesses may not have been their clients, but having a networking relationship with other business owners allows your realtor to acquire valuable information on what they can do to best serve you as a client.

6. Market analysis

Any realtor you decide to work with should have an extensive understanding and perspective of the real estate market in your area. This isn’t just about market stats, as this information these days can be accessed from anywhere and by virtually anyone. It is the realtor’s ability to interpret and analyze the relevant real estate data that sets the experts apart and serves as the key to a successful client relationship and transaction.

7. Price range

While a realtor can’t give you an exact selling price for any home, you can always ask them to provide you with an estimated range. Depending on the location, dynamic and time of year of the real estate market, a realtor can provide you with a comparative market analysis including the recent sales activity in your area of interest, whether it is for sale or purchase of your next property.

8. References

Begin with reviews on popular online/social networking sites such as Facebook, Google etc. Ask for references from the realtor’s past clients. By reaching out and asking the right questions and reviewing the realtor’s references will allow you to discover a lot about them and their reputation and work ethic.

9. Track record

Make sure to ask for the realtor’s past and current performance report card during the interview process. Ask about the number of homes they have recently sold and the number of listings they currently have, their number of expired listings, their current selling to asking ratio, the average number of days of their listings on the market and any other questions you may have.

10. Your realtor of choice

Whether you’re planning to buy or sell, you will want to be able to build a good working relationship with your realtor, as often you could be working with them for weeks, months and sometimes years to come. Do not be afraid or uncomfortable to say “NO” to a realtor who happens to be a friend or family member.The realtor professionals in your personal social circle might be a great family friends and will remain so, but may not always be right person for the sale or purchase of your next home. Hiring a top performing real estate team or realtor with a proven track record is the other side of that coin.

Make sure your realtor of choice is able to devote the required time to service your individual needs and make sure you get to know who you’ll be working with directly. Not all realtors are the same, so finding the right match for you will make a big difference in your experience as a seller, buyer, landlord or tenant. Selecting a realtor who fits your needs and personality will help make the process seamless and stress free.

Follow us on social media, like us, comment on our topics and don’t forget to subscribe on our newsletter. If you have any real estate questions and plan on moving, feel free to reach out. We are here to be at your service.

Yours truly,

Mitra Nobakht Eivaly

Salesperson, Mitra Moves You Team

Keller Williams Referred Realty

Home Ownership

By | knowledge, resource

Home ownership may not seem easy at times. However, it is possible to achieve with the right mind set and the right team on our side.I remember vividly my parents’ struggles with becoming homeowners, when I was a kid. They moved from one place to another about fifteen times, until finally my parents bought their first home with rent to own option, which for us at the time, was a major family milestone. Being part of a big extended family from my childhood to my teens and adolescence, I witnessed a variety of financial ups and downs, gains and losses in my surroundings, and I soon learned that it is not about how much one earns, but it is mostly about what home ownership means to oneself. My own lifetime experiences taught me overt time what home ownership means to me:

1. Community

We had everything we could want for at our fingertips, from the doctor to the butcher to the local dairy or farmer store etc. We shovelled snow together, we gave back to people in need together. We helped each other. We were one. There is definitely a certain amount of pride that comes with home ownership, which helps to anchor you to the community.

2. Credit standing

Homeownership definitely increased my parents financial credibility, from applying for a mortgage to getting a loan to buy appliances, CAC, wood stove etc. Your credit rating improves with mortgage or loan payments, which means you can get access to loans for bigger purchases and investments to grow your nest egg and personal wealth.

3. Fixed housing payment

Buying a home allowed my parents to have a regular predictable shelter cost, much more stable than paying rent. This meant a lot to my parents with their modest income. A fixed rate mortgage creates a great stability and predictability in housing costs.

4. Freedom

Freedom to be, to do and to have the home that the family envisions. I have so many great memories of us sleeping on the roof top, making tomato sauce, having feasts in our yard in the summer or painting exterior and/or interior walls of our modest home, the way we wanted and the colour we wanted, and they are still so alive in me. Home ownership gives you the freedom and creative control to have your home set up in any way you desire, free from landlords’ restrictions and is an important experience in personal growth.

5. Income opportunity vehicle

Home ownership sparks creativity. For a family of modest means, homeownership is definitely not a “lack”, but an “opportunity.” My parents were a great example of that. In their life time, they have had several rental income producing properties, renovated and sold their investment properties at the right time and price, travelled around the world, immigrated and finally settled to have a peaceful and secured life in their retirement years.

6. Increase in value

Homeownership allowed my parents to build wealth, while they raised us. By the time we were grown up, their home value also increased tremendously in value without any additional effort on their part. Home ownership lets you build your equity every month making you a little wealthier every time and growing substantially in the long term.

7. Saving

I know this with absolute certainty that my parents could have never built up their equity without that first bold and creative step into “rent to own” option, which allowed them to save the money they were paying for rent, year after year, and invest in themselves, while raising their three kids.

8. Stability

Home ownership primarily allowed us as a family to experience a sense of stability and belonging. I cannot place a value on the morning walks with my father to elementary school, to going to secondary or high school with neighbourhood friends with whom I grew up

9. Tax benefits

Home ownership allows homeowners to deduct several items such as: mortgage interest, home equity loans, some closing costs and property taxes on primary and/or vacation home, for income tax purposes. Homeowners also get a capital gains exclusion on their primary place of residence.

10. Wealth building machine

Homeownership allowed my parents to buy a few more properties over time and to build up a solid real estate investment portfolio, just because of that initial bold step to become a homeowners.

Why I am saying all of this about homeownership? It is simply because when I look back over the last five decades of my own life experiences, I see that most of the points above are still valid today and are valuable to consider homeownership as a way to build wealth worth spreading.

What does homeownership mean to you? Who do you want to team up with to build and grow your personal wealth? Do you have a financial advisor, a real estate lawyer, a realtor that you know, trust and are committed to? Real Estate market is dynamic and constantly changing. So whether you are a first home buyer, a real estate investor/renovator or simply a repeat home buyer, make sure to connect, reconnect with one of the best professionals in the industry. We are here to help you every step of the way on your journey to homeownership.

Follow us on social media, like us, comment on our topics and don’t forget to subscribe on our newsletter. If You have any questions about real estate and how to become a homeowner, downsize, upsize, right size, invest in real estate, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours truly,

Mitra Nobakht-Eivaly

Sales Representative

Mitra Moves You Team, Keller Williams Referred Realty

Envision Robotics Thornhill

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Envision Robotics is a new business launching in Thornhill and their focus is after-school and weekend programs for kids interested in learning about robots and coding. Envision Robotics also offer summer camps, school PA day camps, and birthday parties. Courses follow the principles of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and prior experience is not needed as kids progress through a series of classes. We sat down with the owner John Mackinnon, longtime Thornhill resident to find out more about this innovative project.

Where does the name Envision Robotics come from?

I was inspired by my three kids: Jack (8 yrs), Matt (6) and Maddy (6). What they’re learning in school feels so much more advanced compared to what I learned at their age. I know I am not the only parent that feels like the demands on our children to secure placement at top colleges, universities, and eventually employment is rising each year. So, this got me thinking. What mix of skills and knowledge will they need as young professionals and what can I do today to provide them with a better foundation?

I decided there was an opportunity for me to take a more active role and help them and others. So, I started Envision Robotics where our mission is simple – we help kids develop 21st century skills to be better prepared for a future full of endless possibilities.

Why robotics? Why now? Why Thornhill?

Robotics felt like a natural avenue to help build 21st century skills. Today’s programable robots offer advanced capabilities, are readily assessible, and are excellent learning platforms to teach STEM skills. Further, with robotics, learning feels less of a chore and is a fun and creative way for kids to express
themselves and achieve new challenges.

Why now? Well, while traditional computer coding had been around for a few years the use of robotic platforms to teach STEM skills is still in its infancy. There are only a few places in the GTA which use robotics as a platform. So, we’re looking to shape this industry over coming years by brining new ideas and techniques.

I chose Thornhill to start as I live here and I know the community well. Besides, Thornhill ranks quite high in the GTA as a community with progressive schools, diverse population and a strong workforce which will help in ensuring we attract the right kids to our programs.

What is robotics and why is it so important in today’s world 

In Canada and around the World there is a fundamental shift underway towards “digitization” and using artificial intelligence, robotics, and advanced technologies to transform businesses across all industries. On a consumer level, home automation, wearable tech, and programable robots are transforming how we play and spend out time. Robotics in one form or another is everywhere and not going away.

As referenced earlier, the skills that kids will need to succeed professionally in the future are changing as a result. Teaching kids to develop skills in robotics and coding is an important way of preparing our kids to develop these 21st century skills. In addition to the hard skills such as robotic concepts and coding, we also focus on the soft skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. Both hard and soft skills are developed through our curriculum.

What are the benefits of children constructing robots and learning simple coding at an early
age?

Constructing robots and coding, even at an early age, helps kids work through a challenge, evolve problem solving and thinking, improve communication by expressing what they need help with and collaboration by showing others how they did something. Completing a challenge successfully builds confidence and helps kids develop a positive relationship with technology.

Between the ages of 7-13 children usually decide if they are interested in a career in the STEM field. One of the most important things a parent can do for his children is to teach them the special skills for such a career and help them make the decision early. This can lead to making a difference between a high-paid profession and a mediocre income for the kids.

What kind of programs do you currently offer?

Our regular kids programs are after school and weekend, and, we also offer summer camps and day camps to accommodate school PA days

Summer Camps:

 Summer Explorer I (6-8 yrs): Students use robotic platforms such as Dash & Dot, WeDo 2.0, and Sphero to compete a number of fun challenges. Kids learn about motors, sensors, and learn to program using a visual drag & drop software.
 Summer Explorer II (9-11 yrs): Students get hands-on experience with Lego Mindstorm EV3, a more advanced robotic platforms while still working through real-work challenges.

Check out our website for early registration discounts. Enroll now to reserve your spot!

Regular Classes:

 Adventurer I (6-8 yrs): introduction to STEM, robotics, and coding by programming robots on Dash & Dot and Lego platforms.
 Adventurer II (9-11 yrs): STEM-focused robotics program where students learn more complex coding, mechanics, and concepts to achieve real world problems. Lego platforms are used.
 Innovator (12-15): More advanced STEM-focused program where students learn engineering concepts and learn to program on a variety of platforms including VEX, Arduino, and others.

Lastly, we also offer a “Drop-In” program where kids are able to come in an “tinker” with our robotic platforms and get creative.

Are there programs for adults?

Yes. We recognize the need to help parents too so we are going to encourage parents to attend a free adult session to help them understand our course curriculum and the basics of robotics so they can assist their kids as they progress through the program courses. Second, we are also going to offer a paid-program for adults on Home Automation, which is very practical given the advancements and availability of these technologies.

What do you envision (pun-intended) for the future of Envision Robotics?

We’re aiming to be the “go-to” place in the Thornhill and Markham region to build robotic and coding skills in addition to the softer skills I referenced earlier. From there we’ll see but I am aiming to open additional facilities over time to help more kids.

Any new projects or offers in the future?

Yes. When we launch in a few weeks we will be hosting drop-ins for parents and kids to visit our facility and get more familiar with our programs. We’ll have fun and interesting challenges for kids to try in our lobby so drop-in to find out more.

What do you enjoy most about living and working in Thornhill?

Jocelyn and I have lived in Thornhill for 10 years and raised our kids, Jack (8), Matt (6), and Maddy (6) here. We love the community for its diversity, abundance of great restaurants, parks, and extra- curricular activities for kids.

Any secret spots and tips you can share in Thornhill?

German Mills Settlers Park is a real gem with history dating back to the early 1800s. We enjoy the park throughout the year and one of our favorite times is when the salmon swim up the river to spawn every fall. Our kids get really excited navigating and racing around the river to spot the next salmon. It’s quite special to experience something like this in an urban area.

Envision Robotics:  2300 John Street, #20, Thornhill, ON  L3T 6G7

Toronto Real Estate April Market Watch 2018

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The Toronto Real Estate Board has released its April numbers revealing a market that is showing signs of normalizing and settling after the craziness of last year’s spring market.

While, the average selling price of a detached home decreased 14.4% year to year, the average price of a detached home remained just above $1 million. Condos outperformed once again jumping 3.2% in average sale price to $559,343. Average sale price was up from March of this year to $804,584. Number of sales has dropped to 7,792 a year-over-year drop of 32.1%. Fewer sales corresponded with the fewer listings on the market. In April, 16,273 listings were put on the market. Compared to last year at the same time, there were 21,571 listings.  

Almost all property types saw a month-to month increase in sales in April. Sales for detached houses have increased 6% from March. Average sale price was up 4.7%, with the largest increase of the year! Condos remained the only home type to see both sales and price appreciation on an yearly basis. Condo prices have been increasing steadily as the number of condos available for sale has been down compared to the demand. This has  kept the condo market very competitive and has pushed prices higher.

“While average selling prices have not climbed back to last year’s record peak, April’s price level represents a substantial gain over the past decade,” said TREB president Tim Syrianos.

“Recent polling conducted for TREB by Ipsos tells us that the great majority of buyers are purchasing a home within which to live. This means these buyers are treating homeownership as a long-term investment. A strong and diverse labour market and continued population growth based on immigration should continue to underpin long-term home price appreciation.”

It is key that we look at the latest markets stats with the right perspective, an opinion clearly shared by TREB experts as well. It is also important to note, that April marks the final month when 2018’s stats will be compared with starkly contrasted 2017’s pre-Fair Housing Plan market era. The provincial government measures introduced in April of last year led to an an immediate market cool-down. This is the first spring market since the measures were introduced, so comparing year to year does not actually reveal the full picture. There are a lot dramatic headlines circulating around about the 12.4% year to year decrease in average sale price without a true breakdown of the underlying factors.

As we move into the spring and summer market and with the bad weather behind us, homeowners should expect to see the return of moderate and sustainable prices growth, supported by a strong local economy and ever growing population. A stable market with an increased availability of listings is also good news for buyers, who were losing faith in endless bidding wars. The sales-to-new-listings ratio has increased dramatically in most GTA regions, signalling a true balanced market. Warmer weather and a stabilizing market suggest an optimistic forecast for the next few months and a healthy, sustained pace of price growth in Q2 real estate sales in the GTA.

To see the full report please click here