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Development Charges

By | knowledge, resource

When a developer receives their building permit, the city issues them a tax, which is called Development charges/levies. The reason developers are required to pay theses levies is that the city needs money to maintain all the infrastructure needed to serve all the new residents of the newly built homes from roads, sidewalks, lamp posts, parks, libraries, police, transit, hospitals and schools.

The city spreads the cost out by the total square footage of the proposed building and the developer pays by unit, so depending on the size of the unit you buy, those fees might be passed on to you. The main development charges are:

Education Levies

These are levies dedicated specifically for building new schools in the city.

Section 37 Levies

These levies are essentially cash payments builders can sometimes make to the city in exchange for zoning approvals or extra density.

Public Art Levies

Similar to section 37, the builder agrees to create public art displays in the development in exchange for zoning approvals. The cost of the public art is sometimes passed on to purchasers who pay their proportionate share.

Parks Levies

These levies are to build new park space in the city.

Other “Municipal Charges”

These charges started since 2018. A generic heading which could be anything.

When you purchase a pre-construction home or condo from a developer, plan your purchase to take development charges and other closing costs into account.

Development charges are not charged by the city until final closing. So you don’t know what the city is going to charge because the building won’t be completed for 3-4 years after you sign your contract.

When you cap your development charges, this means that they cannot exceed the capped amount. Always have a lawyer review your agreement of purchase and sale and any disclosure included in the contract to know exactly how the levies are being paid.

If you want to know more about the pre-construction sale process, we can help. 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.

With Love & Gratitude

HST Rebate On New Homes & Condos

By | knowledge, resource | No Comments

Purchasing a new home or a condo is a real estate investment that we may consider at a certain point in our life. I certainly have. One of the biggest topics about purchasing a new home or a condo is related to the HST rebate. Ontario HST rebate for new homes is available to anyone in the province who purchases a new home or a condo from a builder, for which the eligibility is up to $24,000. Ontario HST rebate for new homes applies if you have:

  • Purchased a newly constructed home
  • Purchased a new condo
  • Built a house
  • Contracted someone to build a house
  • Substantially renovated a house or a condominium
  • Contracted someone to extensively renovate a home/condo
  • Added a major addition to a home
  • Rebuilt a home that was destroyed by a fire
  • Bought shares in a newly constructed cooperative housing project
  • Converted a non-residential property into a home

When you purchase a pre-construction property from a builder as your primary residence, the Ontario HST rebate is usually assigned to the builder directly upon closing, which allows the builder to essentially deduct the cost of the HST from the purchase price.

When you purchase a pre-construction property from a builder as an investor, you must pay the HST at closing and provided you have a one year lease in place, your lawyer can file for a full HST rebate, which is typically refunded 4 to 6 weeks later.

There are two different ways to get an HST rebate in Ontario for end-users and investors:

1) HST New Housing Rebate: You purchase a newly built or extensively renovated home or condo.

2) HST New Residential Rental Property Rebate: You invest in newly built rental property.

HST New Housing rebate eligibility:

  • It must be your principal residence
  • It must also serve as the principal residence for any co-signers of the property.
  • It must be an owner occupied property for at least a year.

HST New Residential Rental Property Rebate eligibility:

  • It applies to both Canadian residents and foreign investors
  • It must have a one year lease in place
  • The minimum rent period of one year must start from the closing date, not interim occupancy.
  • The purchaser’s lawyer can fill out the HST rebate form to have the rebate issued 4 to 6 weeks after closing.
  • Investors can apply for their HST rebate in Ontario up to 2 years after closing

Qualified purchasers that can receive the new home rebate even if the property is not their primary residence are:

  • Spouses
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Siblings

Non-qualified purchasers from receiving the HST rebate if the home or condo is not their primary residence are:

  • Aunts & Uncles
  • Cousins
  • Nephews & Nieces
  • Friends
  • Business Associates

The HST Rebate can be a very complex matter, which requires professional advice. Please check out the CRA website for more details and feel free to contact us if you like us to connect you with our preferred real estate lawyer and/or accountant in this matter.

With love and gratitude

Things To Know When You Purchase An Assignment Condo

By | knowledge, resource

An assignment sale is when a Seller sells their promise to purchase a property from a builder/developer to a new buyer, along with the rights and obligations of the Seller’s original Agreement of Purchase and Sale. This is known as the seller assigning the property to the Buyer. The original purchaser is called the Assignor and the new Buyer is called the Assignee. The Assignee is the one who will complete the final sale with the builder.

All assignments are subject to builder’s approval. Builders that allow assignments often charge the Assignor an assignment fee.

When buying a condo assignment, you are inheriting the contract from the original purchaser, as is. It’s important to have your lawyer review the contract and note that the terms the Assignor agreed to are no longer negotiable.

A possible reason for assignment is when the original purchaser has a change of heart or a change of circumstances, which could be due to marriage, divorce, having children, lifestyle change, relocation, financial hardships and sometimes financial benefits.

You can purchase an assignment property with as little as 5% down depending on what the Assignor’s terms are. When purchasing a condo assignment, you will be responsible for all the closing costs when the building is registered with the city. Closing costs include Land Transfer Tax, Development Charges, Utility Connection Fees, HST and any legal fees.

You are completely exempt from HST on a pre-construction condo, if you plan to use the property as your principal residence. Investors who will be leasing their condos will need to pay HST upfront to a maximum of $24,000. Your lawyer can file for a full HST rebate refund approximately 4 to 6 weeks later, provided you have a one year lease in place.

With assignment sales, there are essentially 2 closings: the closing between the Assignor and the Assignee, and the closing between the Assignee and the Builder. During the first closing (the assignment closing), the original purchaser receives their deposit + any profit (or their deposit minus any loss) from the Assignee. During the second closing (between the Builder and the Assignee), the Assignee pays the remaining amount to the Builder (usually with the help of a mortgage), and pays land transfer taxes. At this point, the title of the property is transferred from the Builder to the Assignee.

There is also technically a third closing, when the Buyer takes possession of the property, but doesn’t yet own, which is known as the interim occupancy period. The interim occupancy occurs when the unit is ready to be occupied, but not ready to be registered with the city. Interim occupancy periods in Toronto is mostly a few months. During the interim occupancy period, the Buyer occupies the unit and pays the Builder an amount roughly equal to what their mortgage payment + condo fees + taxes would be. The timing of the assignment will dictate who completes the interim occupancy.

Benefits of purchasing an assignment condo

  • You purchase a brand new condo today at yesterday’s prices, that no longer exists in today’s market. Sellers know they have to price their units less than what the developer would sell a similar unit in the current market. Savings can be in the tens of thousands compared to buying through the developer, and in some cases the price paid is even lower than what is available on the resale market.
  • You purchase pre-construction without the wait. You don’t have the usual 3-4 year lag time, while often the occupancy is only months away.
  • You inherit all new warranties: Manufacturer’s one year warranty on appliances and one, five or seven year Tarion warranty.
  • You purchase a unit when the PDI (Pre-delivery inspection) has been completed, although in some cases you may get to do this.
  • You pay a much smaller deposit for a much shorter time than when buying pre-construction condo from the builder, before there is even a hole in the ground.
  • You may have the opportunity to see the actual unit and building, rather than buying from pictures (only applies if interim occupancy has started).
  • You benefit from Platinum/VIP stages of the sales process, when prices were at their lowest and usually when many free upgrades were added on by the developer, than if you bought today from the developer directly, you would end up paying for all the extras.
  • You negotiate from a position of strength, as most sellers need to get their money out now.

If you want to know more about the assignment sale process, we can help. 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.

With love & gratitude

Some Tips For A Multi-Family Home Investment

By | knowledge, resource

Reasons to invest in multi-family homes:

  • You expand your real estate investment portfolio faster. Multi-family homes are the best type of income properties for building wealth and generating higher returns.
  • You will experience easier property and time management by having your investments under the same roof.
  • You can make great profit by purchasing a multi-family home that is in disrepair and renovating it. That is because any new upgrade or renovation to the property will result in higher values for each rental unit you own. This can be in the form of rental price or selling price.
  • You will generate more cash flow each month along with slow, yet steady appreciation in the value of your real estate investment portfolio.
  • Your mortgage approval application and process can be easier as there is less risk involved for the lender. Multi-family properties generate a solid cash flow and with even at 10% vacancy rate, the likelihood of a power of sale on an apartment building is not as high as a single-family rental.
  • You can manage your own investment property. It would be much easier for you to manage multiple units in one building versus in different locations.
  • You will have the luxury of hiring a professional property management company, as it will cost you less with a multi family home.
  • You will save the pain of getting multiple insurance policies for multiple properties, instead you will get one insurance policy for multiple units at the same location.
  • You will have less competition. Seize the opportunity, as there are usually fewer people investing in multi-family homes due to many personal considerations.

Things to consider when purchasing a potential multi-family home:

  • Property location: Pay attention to properties located in solid neighbourhoods, places where people want to live.
  • Condition: Take into account how much time, money and work the property will need in order to be rent-ready.
  • Rent roll: Look at the current rents and compare them to the average rents in the area to see what the property should rent for and can help influence your buying decision
  • Revenue & expenses: Look at what rental revenues are coming in and what the current expenses are and see if it makes sense, remember to add in your approximate carrying costs to see if you will be cash-flow positive.
  • Vacancy rate: Look for a vacancy rate below 10% and see how long each unit is vacant per year so you can figure that into your carrying costs.
  • Zoning: You want to ensure that the property is zoned for what it’s set up as it is very common to see a triplex that is only legally zoned as a duplex.
  • School ratings: Poor overall public and private school ratings can deter tenants.
  • Public parking: Tenants need to have places for themselves and their guests to park.
  • Amenities/attractions: Parks, restaurants and shopping should be nearby
  • Walk score: The area should be walkable.
  • Nearby businesses: The business district should be thriving and businesses should be open.
  • Overall condition of area: Street lamps should work, trash should be picked up and sidewalks and homes should be well-maintained.
  • Public transportation: Tenants want easy access to and from work, school and other necessities.
  • Condition of other properties: Run-down buildings deter prospective tenants from living in the neighbourhood

We can help you plan a long-term real estate investment strategy based on your current income, savings, availability and property management skills.

Feel free to reach out to us. Subscribe to our newsletter and don’t forget to follow and like us on social media.

With love and gratitude

What Is An Income Property?

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An income property is bought or developed with the intention of earning income on it. The income is generally made through holding and renting it out or selling the property after the value of the property has appreciated. Income properties can be residential such as condo apartments, single family homes or multi-family properties. They can also be commercial properties like a strip mall for example. In this post, we will only focus on residential properties: single family homes and condo apartments.

How to make money from an income property?

  • Cash flow. Real estate market fluctuates. As long as the property is producing positive cash flow, you can hold on to it and make money over time. It is however important to know some basics: Calculate annual gross rents. Add up total annual costs including mortgage payments and all other variable expenses. Deduct the total annual cost from the annual gross rents. And if you have a positive cash flow, then you are on a great path.
  • Equity buildup. As rents pay down the mortgage balance, the equity increase is considered as profit.This equity is only on paper, until you sell or refinance the property.
  • Equity Recapture – Ideally, we all want to buy a property below market rate. If the market value of a home is $500,000 and we purchase it for $475,000 our net equity capture is $25,000. This allows us to make money when we buy the property and ultimately realize money when we sell it.
  • Forced appreciation – Investing in home improvements is a great way to increase the value of the home. As an investor, we do not want to buy the best and prettiest house on the street. It is best to buy properties that we can put some work into to make the value of the property to go up.
  • Market appreciation – Real estate is an investment that grows in value over the years. While it has its ups and downs, a real estate investment has shown to grow in value over time. Market appreciation on our property turns into cash profit when we sell or refinance the property.

Why invest in a single-family home as an income property?

  • Appreciation potential. Single-family homes can be converted to 2 or 3 self-contained units, generating several streams of rental income.
  • No condo fees. Condos typically cost more to own than a single- family home of the same size. Not to mention the condo fees (both monthly membership fees and special assessments) are subject to increases, thus increasing the burden of cost over time.
  • Rent limitations. Tenants interested in renting a house are usually accustomed to taking care of utility cost, the snow removal and/or lawn care.

Why invest in a condo as an income property?

With a huge demand for condos, Toronto is fast becoming another New York City, however the property values are still of course far below New York’s. There are some options for you to consider:

  • Pre-construction condo. This can offer great profit margins. Look for neighbourhoods where prices are still low, where there are future developments or transit infrastructure that will add value in the years to come.
  • Resale condo. Simply look at existing condos that are known to perform well in the market.

What to look for when buying a condo?

  • Age of building
  • Amenities
  • Appliances and Other Equipment
  • City’s Development Plans for the neighbourhood
  • Commercial Condo Insurance Policy
  • Demographics
  • Elevator Infrastructure
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Exposure
  • Finishing/craftsmanship
  • Floor plans
  • Location
  • Maintenance fees
  • Price per square foot
  • Proximity to areas of interest
  • Proximity to quality schools
  • Reserve Fund and any potential special assessments
  • Separate thermostats
  • View
  • Visitor Parking

What are some up and coming Toronto neighbourhoods?

Bloordale Village: The corner of Bloor and Dufferin is expected to get a major face-lift with new retail, office space and lots of green space.

Dupont Street: Just north of Bloordale Village along Dupont with redevelopment of the Galleria Mall at Dupont and Dufferin.

Birchcliff (Beaches): Redevelopment is on the way along Kingston Rd in the neighbourhood of Birchcliff. Being so close to the Beaches, it’s a location that can’t be beat.

Gerrard St East: Set between Danforth and Queen Street East with accessible transit lines, where you can still find affordable detached and semi-detached homes.

We can help you plan a long-term real estate investment strategy based on your current income, savings,availability and property management skills. Feel free to reach out to us. Subscribe to our newsletter and don’t forget to follow and like us on social media.

With love and gratitude

Why Invest In Real Estate In 2019?

By | knowledge, resource

This is an exciting time to invest in Toronto real estate. Here is why:

1. You are in control of your home, money and investment. How much control do you have on your traditional investments compared to your own home investment?

2. Your money starts working for you even if you buy a condo for $300,000. This will lead you to build wealth and afford larger investments in the future by:

a) forced appreciation

b) market appreciation

3. When you buy a primary residence in poor condition and plan strategic renovations two things will simultaneously happen for you:

a) Your home value will increase.

b) Your lifestyle will improve.

4. Leverage with the lowest interest rates to build your net worth without having to pay the full purchase price with as little as 5%.

5. Your return on equity is massive with the right investment strategy in real estate.

a) Resale or a pre-construction condo can offer great profit margins. Look for neighbourhoods where prices are still low, where there are future developments or transit infrastructure that will add value in the years to come. Or simply look for resale condos that are known to perform well in the market.

b) Freehold home prices in the 905 area dropped tremendously. This is an ideal time to consider upsizing and/or changing your life style.

6. With huge demand for condos, Toronto is fast becoming another New York City, however the property values are still far below New York’s market of course. Toronto’s average 10 year historical growth rate of 5% a year simply tells us that investing in Toronto condo market is wise.

7. Begin to build your portfolio of investment properties by leveraging a portion of your home equity into a second investment property.

8. Demand for rental properties is increasing.Toronto’s growing immigration and tech industry bring a great number of qualified residents to the city. You can benefit from a top quality tenant for your next income producing property.

9. Your real estate investment is safe with Canada’s lending practices and ongoing rigid mortgage regulations securing a very low (0.3%) delinquency rate.

We can help you plan a long-term real estate investment strategy based on your current income, your savings, your availability and property management skill set.

Feel free to reach out to us. Subscribe to our newsletter, and don’t forget to follow and like us on social media.

With love and gratitude

How To Showcase Focal Points Of Your Home

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First impression is everything. You can spend a lot of time and money showcasing your home or you can get creative, and it could be as little as rearranging your own furniture/accent pieces, to staging certain areas of your home that may need more work. Here is how to wow potential home buyers with your home along with a checklist for the most important areas of your home.

Front Entrance

The entrance is the first impression and the invitation to potential home buyers to explore inside your home:

  • Lighten up your front entry
  • Freshly paint your front door
  • Replace the door knob if needed
  • Change the doorbell if it is not working well
  • Add a good quality welcome mat
  • Add eye-catching colourful accents that would put your guests at ease

Living Room

Resourcefulness costs nothing. With a little creativity, you can give a new vibe to your living space.

  • Keep your furniture together to create conversation areas
  • Make your coffee table attractive with a tea set on a tray and a few art books
  • Have fresh flowers in a vase to add color
  • Arrange a few decorative pillows or lamps

Dining Room

Make sure you present your dining room as the focal point of your home. Arrange it to feel spacious, comfortable and entertaining.

  • Add a centrepiece, candles, or a large vase with flowers
  • Display an attractive dining set and cutlery
  • Brighten up the room with lamps
  • Bring natural light into the room by removing heavy window treatments

Kitchen

Make your kitchen inviting and the centre piece of your home.

  • Place nice hand and dish soap by the sink
  • Organize the pantry and cabinets
  • Display a bowl of fresh fruit or fresh flowers
  • Add new hand towels

Master Bedroom

The bedroom needs to feel elegant and inviting.

  • Invest in new linens, good quality cotton sheets and duvets in neutral colors
  • Create a sitting area if possible
  • Organize closets and keep them neat
  • Use tasteful art to decorate walls

Bathroom

  • Add candles, bath oils and fragrant soaps
  • Hang some new, clean towels
  • Keep the toilet lid closed
  • Hide the cleaning supplies and garbage
  • Organize bathroom cabinets

Should you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help you showcase your home and make it as marketable as possible. Subscribe to our newsletter, and don’t forget to follow and like us on social media

With love and gratitude

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.

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With love and gratitude

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.

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With love & gratitude

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.

With love & gratitude

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.

With love & gratitude

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.

With love & gratitude

Envision Robotics Thornhill

By | knowledge, resource | No Comments

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

By | knowledge, resource | No Comments

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

Toronto Real Estate February Market Watch 2018

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Resale prices in Toronto real estate fell 12.4% or $110,000 in February.

Prices were still 12% higher than in February 2016, when the average was $685,278. In January, it likewise surpassed the average of $736,783, which is 4.1% underneath the earlier year’s level.  After an interestingly high market in the Toronto region, the Toronto real estate board is anticipating a moderate price increases in 2018. In spite of a decline in the average price of the private property, home prices kept on ascending in February – 10% more than the prior year – to an average of $ 529,782. Regardless, the sales volume has fallen by 30.8%.  The average price tumbled to $ 767,818, from $875,983 for every home division, including apartment suites, townhouses, duplexes, and condominiums.

Despite the decline in average resale prices, the loft suites in February expanded by 10 a year over the earlier year to an average of $529,782. In any case, the sales volume had fallen by 30.8% age focuses per penny. Turnover additionally declined about 35 % in the prior month February 2017, with 7,955 out of the 5,175 stock trades a year ago, as indicated by the most recent TREB examination on Tuesday. The sales have since declined, with the Ontario government chilling this month by issuing its reasonable lodging arrangement, including outside purchasers, said Jason Mercer, TREB head of a market examination. Prices fell more gradually than a year prior and the biggest decline occurred in November.  

 The lion’s share of flat suites sold in Toronto comprises of a one-room or one room and private units, and just 20 % are bigger than two rooms. In spite of the way that there could be a superior price on the re-sale side of the condominium market, both the pre-improvement and resale flats in the city are hot, as Harrild says.  One thousand dollars for each square meter is the new standard for condo suites, said Bosley real estate designer David Fleming, who says he has never observed anything comparable in the 14 years he spent in the downtown real estate. He was alluding to a 516 square. Ft. Unit that offered for $ 524,900, about $ 1,017 for each square foot, where offers were held to position it for different offers. Regardless, downtown houses are offering admirably as well, he said. On Monday night, he went ahead to offer a house enrolled for about $995,000, which made eight arrangements. It was sold for about $230,000 over the offer price.  In Aurora, 57 condos were sold between 1 January and the finish of February. They sold 94% of the settled price and were accessible for an average of 28 days.

The news of this change in housing prices is both good news (for those selling) and bad news (for buyers). Even so, the trends in prices of property for of houses are so fluid and difficult to predict that, if you’re investing in a property and are concerned about the rise in price, you shouldn’t let these small increases put you off. If the market continues to evolve as it is now, your house will increase in value over time, meaning your investment will be more than worthwhile.

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What’s in Store for Toronto Real Estate in 2018

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Following an 18% decline in Toronto residential property sales in 2017, experts estimate that the housing market will
further soften in 2018 after the government introduced new mortgage laws.

The rules, which came into full effect on January 1st, slap a 15% tax on foreigners who want to buy property in
Toronto. It also consists of a new stress test targeting uninsured mortgage borrowers, coming at a period when Bank
of Canada is further anticipated to continue hiking their lending rates throughout the year.

The stress test is aimed at ensuring that borrowers can pay off their mortgage obligations even if rates were to
increase. Lenders are now obligated to assess the viability of Toronto mortgage applicants before any loan is
approved. Furthermore, potential borrowers will have their finances mocked-up if the rates are 2% higher than the
figure they can get from a lender, and this also applies if the rates are at the 5yr average posted ratio which is
currently at 4.99%.

Anyone who fails the stress test can’t get the mortgage they are looking for, meaning they will ultimately have to
settle for a cheaper house or entirely sit out the purchase offer.

In 2018, analysts estimate that the Toronto resale market will be moderately flat overall and stay within the price
range of $700,000 to $750,000. Nevertheless, the new mortgage policies will still impact how much property
individuals can buy at a given time.

As for the condo market, pre-construction condos will continue performing well, particularly given that the purchasing
power of first-time home buyers’ who are mostly millennials will diminish following the new rules. These are the
homes they can buy easily since they are more affordable than the others.

Statistics show that prices for Toronto condos have been up by 24.5% year on year due to huge demand from
buyers. Currently, the average cost of a condo in Toronto City is $532,700, according to the city’s Real Estate Board.
It has become the starter home for people who want to own their first property.

As the new mortgage policies are absorbed into the market, it’s predicted Toronto real estate buyers and sellers will
take a wait-and-see approach to assess the full impact. Even so, the market will not stay down for long given the
city’s vibrant and healthy economic activity which strongholds demand for Toronto real estate. Continued migration
from foreigners seeking to settle in the city will put added pressure on the available housing market inventory.

Moreover, the Royal LePage in their latest House Price Survey predict that, policy measures such as the new
mortgage rules shall subdue GTA real estate inflation to an extent. Additionally, they foresee an upsurge in demand
during the latter half of 2018, as potential home buyers adapt to new realities in the Toronto real estate market.

On average, the amount of residential purchases in 2018 for condos will vary between 85,000 and 95,0000 units,
while the average selling price shall be between $649,000 and $689,000. Similarly, housing rates are expected to
end 2018 in the ratio of $800,000 and $850,000 across all types of homes.

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Buyer Stress Test & B Lender Financing

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Starting January 2018, new regulations will make it harder for homebuyers to qualify for uninsured mortgages. All borrowers even those with down payments of 20% or more, will now be required to take a buyer stress test.

This may mean a shift from traditional prime A lenders to the smaller alternative B lenders and provincially regulated credit unions for many mortgage hunters. In Canada we have 3 major types of mortgages which are based on the payment risk the lender faces:

A – Traditional prime lenders (large banks, virtual mortgage houses like First National & ING). These mortgages have lower chances of the borrower defaulting than non-prime mortgages.

B – Non-conforming/alternative or sub-prime lenders. “B” mortgages. These are riskier so lenders rely heavily on the equity in the subject property and/or on charging rate premiums to mitigate that risk.

C – Private lenders

Prime or A lenders focus on borrowers who have good jobs and credit history and are purchasing homes within the traditional guidelines. However, many borrowers don’t qualify for A lenders and mainstream mortgages are not for everyone, so the next option to consider may be the “B” lenders. Perhaps you are new to Canada, recently divorced or have past credit issues such as late payments, collections, or past bankruptcy. Maybe you need to use your self-declared income because you’re a small business owner or self employed.

B lenders normally consider each application on a case-by-case basis. They have similar strict qualifying criteria you need to fulfill, but they are able to look at the ‘overall picture’ of your financial situation and see what kind of mortgage would work for you, allowing for a more flexible approach.

Of course compared to the A Lenders, the B lender mortgage rates are higher, as your borrower profile is riskier than the average traditional borrower. B lenders charge a premium between 1-3 percent over traditional interest rates and usually lend for a much shorter term, starting as low as one year. In addition, there is usually a commitment fee and/or lender/broker fee charged up front, as a percentage of the total mortgage amount. A larger down payment of minimum 20% is usually required, as most B lenders do not provide high ratio mortgages. Also keep in mind that only fixed mortgages are available through this type of lending.

Also it is important to note that while most B lenders offer great pre-payment privileges, they also often charge more for paying out the mortgage early and are very strict about missed payments, so make sure check all the terms and conditions of your loans and understand them fully.

If you have good credit history and qualify for prime lending, should you still consider B lender mortgages? If the interest rate offered by the B lender is competitive to that of the big banks, then why not? You could save thousands in interest and be mortgage-free sooner. To stay competitive in a mortgage market largely dominated by big banks, B lenders often offer more competitive interest rates and usually have smaller penalties and offer more generous mortgage prepayment privileges.

People are often cautious about working with smaller and sub-prime lenders, as big name banks are associated with stability and safety, but that is just large advertising budgets at work. Most smaller mortgage firms and B lenders get their financing from large financial institutions and their source of financing is just as stable.

The proportion of mortgages given out by alternative institutions, other than banks or credit unions is still relatively small, only around 2.2% of the entire mortgage market, as per recent analysis from CIBC, but it has been growing steadily by about 25% a year since the last recession of 2008-2009. Recent government regulations have allowed alternative lenders to fill a key void in the market allowing credit options for a range of buyers.

A word of advice, don’t get too caught up on the higher interest rates of the B lender mortgages. Consider that it is only a temporary measure and is your stepping stone on your way to prime lenders. B Lenders can act as bridge to A lenders just after a couple of years, in times when you need refinancing the most.

For those considering a mortgage through an alternative B lender please make sure you shop around and get advice from an experienced and reputable broker to learn about all your available options to get the best mortgage out there for you.

If you have any questions about the new regulations or have any other real estate related questions, please contact us at any time.

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New Mortgage Rules: Buyer Stress Test

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There are new changes coming into effect on January 1, 2018 introduced by The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) requiring all uninsured borrowers to complete a newly designed buyer stress test before they can qualify for a mortgage.

What is an uninsured borrower? It is anyone who has put down twenty percent or more of the value of the property as a down payment to secure their mortgage. These borrowers do not need mortgage insurance and are therefore known as uninsured borrowers.

Insured borrowers have down payments of less than twenty percent and terms less than five years, and these borrowers have been required to pass a stress test since last year. The stress test ensures that borrowers can afford their loan payments even if interest rates suddenly increase.

Under the newly proposed test lenders want to mitigate the risk of default by the proposed stress test and that is why uninsured borrowers will have to now qualify based on the greater of a five year fixed rate from Bank of Canada or the current rate + 2% stress test. Which of these two criteria will be used to determine the test outcome, depends on which of the two measures will have the highest value.

If you already have an approved existing mortgage, this rule does not affect your current mortgage no matter when the closing is. Pre-approved mortgages concluded between 17th October to 31st December 2017 should technically still be honoured by most major financial lenders, but we advise you to double check your pre-approved application. For all applications made in 2018, new rules will apply with no exceptions to both new mortgages and any mortgage renewals. Other changes under these new rules  include restrictions on co-lending or bundled mortgages.

These changes are surely going to affect different segments of the populations. Most vulnerable will be young first home buyers that are using funds given by their parents for a larger down payment and who may not yet have high paying jobs, many being just at the start of their careers. Also heavily affected will be buyers looking to expand or move up to a larger home as they will not be able to qualify for a bigger mortgage than previously possible and may not be able to negotiate as good a terms and rates as before. Industry experts are concerned on a cooling effect the new rules may have on the real estate market in the coming year.

However, not all outcomes of these new measures are negative. While buyers’ power and affordability is certainly going to decrease, rising national household debt is a growing concern as it continues to break records. By introducing this stress test, the government is preparing the market for any eventual rate hikes and the test would ensure we are prepared for them on both sides as realtor professionals and consumers. It is also a good time to consider those higher than normal debt ratios and rein in household debt and expectations, which all lead to a more balanced, stable market and more affordable home prices for buyers in the long run. The new stress test may also shift buyer focus to condos and townhomes.

Also this new rule does not mean that borrowers with higher debt ratios will no longer be able to get mortgages at all. While these borrowers should be prepared to pay higher rates, smaller B level lenders will still be able to offer some flexibility. Also, most provincially regulated lenders are not bound by these new regulations and local credit unions are expected to be very busy in the coming year. GTA continues to attract large numbers of newcomers, which is still the most important source of new buyers and any cooling or slow down of the market is likely to be temporary.

If you have any questions about the new regulations or have any other real estate related questions, please contact us at any time.

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Market Report: August 2017

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Last week, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB)  released its market report for August. There has been a general cool-down in the GTA real estate market, in partly in response to new regulatory measures introduced by the Provincial Government earlier  in April. There was an overall  34.8% decrease in sales compared to August 2016 with only 6,357 transactions in August 2017. New home listings fell by 6.7% compared to August of last year. Detached home sales was probably the most affected segment of the market overall, with average prices around 20% lower than in April 2017.

However, all these jaw dropping stats aside, the actual house prices were up 3% from last year bringing an average price of a GTA home to $732,292. In addition, TREB’s  home price index composite benchmark, designed to smooth out variations and which accounts for typical homes throughout TREB’s market area, was actually  up by 14.3% on a year-to-year basis in August. This means that some areas in GTA were affected  differently and notably some areas such as Durham, Peel and Halton regions remained very much a seller’s market. The condo market in particular continued to outperform all other segments, up 21.4% from last year to an average price of $507,841 in August 2017. It is interesting to note that this is the first time the condo market has outperformed the single detached home category and the first year it has gone into double digit growth. Similarly, the rental market remains an equally hot area. Most rentals in the Toronto area are leased for over listing price, often with multiple offers and additional incentives.

While summer’s month-to-month sales also saw a decline, it can more typically be attributed to a slower than usual, traditionally slow seasonal market. This decline in sales may also be attributed to the psychological slow-down effect of the new provincial regulations on the Buyers. Reports indicate that the economy in the GTA continues to grow and is at a healthy pace which may play a key factor in normalizing the relationship between buyers and amount of listings on the market, which results  in a well balanced real estate market rather than an unsustainable market driven by irrational decisions, bidding wars and double digit growth.  A return to normalcy is welcomed by both sides in the long-run.

Despite the general cooling off during the summer since the announcement of new measures and recent interest rate hike , the GTA real estate market should not be dismissed so fast. TREB consumer research suggests that buyers that have previously put off their decision are set to return to the market and most likely in the fall. Most real estate purchases are not driven by speculation and cannot usually be subject to indefinite delay, often arising by pressing social and financial obligations of the Buyers’ everyday lives.  Current market predictions are that as more buyers jump into the fall market that has a smaller number of listings, this can affect the rate of price increase.

GTA real estate prices are expected to continue to grow year-to-year as the main factors that drive the real estate market have not changed. Population growth, low-interest rates, strong GDP growth and high employment figures continue to indicate that the region remains an attractive option for both local and  international buyers.

To view the full report click here.

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Garage Sale Organizing: 11 Useful Tips & Problems To Avoid

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As we come to the latter part of summer, it’s still a pleasant time of the year with summer bargain hunters looking to snag that perfect deal. Additionally, it’s a great time to host a garage sale to declutter your home before the cooler weather arrives and put some extra cash in your wallet. Early fall is also a popular period for students looking for back to school deals as well as young renters and new homeowners on the lookout for your used furniture and other discounted items. It is also an ideal time to put your winter related items on the market, such as:  sports equipment, holiday decorations, exercise equipment and various holiday collectibles.

 Mitra Moves You Team is organizing its annual garage sale in the German Mills area of Thornhill on September 2nd, 2017 from 8am-12pm. Joining our neighbourhood garage sale won’t cost you a cent and we will take care of the signs and advertising for you. All you have to do is show up on September 2nd in the Thornhill German Mills Area and make sure you are ready to bargain!

If you are interested in participating or just want to shop around, feel free to call us at 416-832-9292 or email a: hello@mitramovesyou.com for more information.

To help you get started, we outline 11 useful garage sale tips to host a great garage sale and 11 common garage sale problems to avoid when organizing your garage sale. See you on September 2nd!

 11 Useful Garage Sale Tips:

  1. Establish the purpose of your garage sale. Do you need to declutter in time for selling your home or need quick extra cash? This will affect the way you organize your sale, your pricing strategy and ability to negotiate and discount. It’s worth noting that it often pays more to price things slightly lower in order to sell more items. If you want to get top dollar for items of real value, consider selling them at popular online auction sites like Ebay or eBid.                       
  2. Make sure you have the right supplies at least a day before the sale. Supplies include: tables, coat hangers and stands, price stickers/tags, masking tape, scissors, money pouch/fanny pack, plenty of small cash/change for those pesky $20 dollar bills, pen/pencil and tracking ledger of sale items.                                                                          
  3. Clean & dust all your sale items.
  4. Sort everything into categories before you price anything.
  5. Price everything! This is a key step and is not be avoided. Most problems involving garage sales are always inevitably related to incorrect or lack of pricing, as you will discover in the problems section below.
  6. Price everything correctly. Consider pricing similar items the same amount or using blanket pricing method e.g. all shirts – $5. For larger items in working condition, a general rule for pricing should be in the range of 20-30% less than what you initially paid for it. Price big ticket items higher than your actual asking price because you will be expected to negotiate.
  7. Organize and display your items in the most attractive way possible. Some ideas to consider: placing your most sellable and larger items closest to the curb, grouping similar items, creating stylish vignettes and personalised tags, displaying clothes on hangers which is much easier for customers to go through. Displaying your items on tables is preferred, as shoppers like to see things at eye level. However, remember when it comes to toys, always place them at kids’ eye level or somewhere where they can reach them easily.
  8. Create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Shoppers will likely linger for much longer if they feel comfortable. Be friendly, but not overbearing. Do not hover over customers, find an activity of your own, put on the radio for some friendly background music. Make sure you have water and drinks out for your fellow shoppers and their pets, especially if it is hot out.
  9. Make sure you have bags/boxes for the purchased items so your customers can happily leave with their purchases. Consider packing materials like old newspaper and magazines and old fabric scraps for wrapping fragile items.
  10. Make a “free stuff” box that you can fill with things you want to give away. Make sure it is placed somewhere easily visible in your yard or by your driveway.
  11. Donate leftover items to charity. Try not to keep anything you decided to get rid of in the first place. You can organize a charity pick up for the day of or after the sale, or leave unwanted items in your designated “free stuff” box by your driveway.

11 Garage Sale Problems to Avoid:

  1. Missing or no prices: this is consistently the number one problem garage sale shoppers face and report to be their ultimate pet peeve. Unpriced items will simply make shoppers leave. Remember that most of people at garage sale are looking for a bargain, so to them price is everything. People also don’t like to ask questions, so having every item priced should be your number one priority when organizing your sale.                                                                                           
  2. Incorrectly priced items can lead to confusion and customer frustration, which can be easily avoided if you have organize and think through your pricing strategy before the sale.
  3. Don’t base your sale items on your personal tastes. Just because you wouldn’t buy something that may be broken or aged, there are plenty of people who like to fix and restore objects or may be looking for a particular or component.
  4. Not labeling items: as mentioned above, generally people do not like to ask a lot of questions, so try to label your sale items clearly. Also you are not always going to be available to answer questions, proper labeling will take care of that.
  5. Lack of outlets: a common question often heard at garage sales is “does it work?” To avoid this question and make sure you don’t lose a potential sale on a hot item, have some outlets with a power bar available to test your plug in items.
  6. Don’t keep your sale items on the ground. Try to avoid displaying your items low on the ground. If you must do so, make sure you use bright coloured tarps or old tablecloths to make your displays more appealing.
  7. Mark ‘not for sale’ items clearly.  To avoid any confusion, place ‘not for sale’ signs on these items that are visible during the sale.
  8. Have your money with you at all times. Keep large bills in your pockets or fanny-packs separately from smaller bills. Do not use a cash-box that you may leave unattended or forget.
  9. Keep your home safe. Make sure doors and access points are locked, where you do not want shoppers to wander through. If you don’t know people personally avoid letting them inside the house. Direct them to the nearest public washroom if required.
  10. Do not get sentimental over your merchandise. Garage sale shoppers are generally looking for a bargain and don’t share your emotional attachment to the same objects.
  11. Don’t haggle over low priced items, it is just not worth it. If customers purchase several items, make sure you give them an additional discount or throw in another low priced item for a special deal.
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Best Renovations Before Selling

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You’re ready to sell. Should you renovate first?

After making the decision to sell, many homeowners turn their focus to renovations to add value to their home. It’s a valid consideration before you officially list your property. The key is in knowing what renovations are going to give a high return on your investment.

Know the market

Start by talking to a Realtor ® , preferably one who has several years experience in your neighbourhood. Ask how your home compares to others on the market or that have recently sold. And ask about the state of the market. In a seller’s market, you may not have to renovate as extensively as you would in a buyer’s market. If you decide to renovate, discuss your plans with your Realtor ® , he or she will be able to help you determine what projects will be most profitable.

Choose your renovation project(s)

According to some sources, some renovations can have a return on investment equivalent to 5 or 6 times their initial cost. Here are projects that may give you big bang for your renovation buck:

1. New paint

It’s as simple as that. The idea is to create a blank canvas where a prospective buyer can imagine living. The best way to do that is to choose a neutral shade (creamy whites and greys are popular now) and paint each room. This will tie in the rooms as you move from one space to the next. And it will freshen and brighten spaces as well. It may not necessarily be to your taste, but it will appeal to buyers.

2. Update flooring

If your hardwood is showing wear, or you have old carpet, you may want to consider updating your flooring. Look at having hardwood professionally refinished. In areas of carpet, remove the old and replace with hardwood/laminate. If you must carpet, choose a durable, low pile in a neutral colour.

3. Update fixtures

Old fixtures date your home. Look at replacing light fixtures throughout your home. And take a look at fixture laden rooms like the  kitchen and bathroom. Consider replacing or updating countertops, plumbing fixtures (taps & faucets) as well as cabinet hardware. These are small upgrades that can make a big difference.

4. Remodel or add a bathroom

Update the bathrooms in your home. Sometimes this is as simple as a fixture change and retiling the floor. But if you’ve got a pink toilet and matching tub, you may want to consider completely remodelling the space. Or if your current home has only one bathroom, you may want to consider adding another (3-piece) if at all possible. This is one renovation investment that usually sees significant return.

5. Remodel the kitchen

This can make a significant difference in the value of your home. Look through magazines for current kitchen trends. Things to consider include: an open lay-out, an island, brightness through windows or under cabinet lighting, white cabinetry is often more preferred to dark. Appliances are important too – the current trend is towards stainless steel finishes.

Before you spend a penny

Once you’ve decided to renovate to increase your home’s resale value, there are some key things you can do to ensure your projects are done on-time and on-budget. This is very important when you consider that you’ll also have the costs and logistics of moving from this home to another. Do yourself a favour and consider the following:

1. Set your budget

Once you know what needs to be done, do your homework to determine the extent of your renovations and what they’ll cost. Weigh these costs carefully. Remember, renovation costs are in addition to  the costs of moving, land transfer and legal fees and the downpayment on your new property. And be prepared with money in reserve – a good rule of thumb is +30% of your original budget – to allow for unforeseen issues.

2. Set your timeline

Renovations don’t happen overnight. Especially involved projects like a bathroom or kitchen. If you need to sell sooner rather than later, then this may mean sticking to cosmetic renovations. If you have the luxury of time, then you can look at larger projects like updating a kitchen or bathroom, or creating an income suite. Check with the pros who will be completing the work for you and ask for a timeline. Then budget more time for unforeseen issues. If you’re doing the work yourself, be sure to give yourself plenty of time so that you’re not cutting corners as your listing date looms.

3. Create a plan

From day one until the project is complete, you should be following a plan. This is crucial particularly for large, multi-stage renovations. A plan can be created with your contractor so that you both have a clear vision of what – and when – things should be accomplished and how much is spent along the way. This will help to keep lines of communication open as well. If you’re doing the work yourself, a detailed plan will keep you on track so work is completed on time.

Let the Mitra Moves You Team be your guide

The Mitra Moves You Team takes pride in serving Thornhill and other communities. We are committed to transforming dreams into sustainable wealth through strategic home ownership and real estate investments. And we’re just a phone call away.

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What is Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan?

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It’s no secret that Toronto’s housing market is on fire. Do an online search and you’ll find hundreds of articles and opinions on everything from why the market is hot, to when or how the ‘bubble’ will burst.  Toronto’s housing market is experiencing unprecedented housing price increases and while many will profit handsomely, the current trend is creating a market that is unaffordable to many more (potential) homebuyers and renters. Housing is a basic need for all Ontarians. In an effort to alleviate the pressures Ontarians face trying to buy a home or afford their rent, the provincial government recently introduced the Fair Housing Plan.

Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan

The Plan consists of 16 comprehensive measures designed to:

  • Bring stability to the current market
  • Protect the investment of homeowners
  • Enable more people to find an affordable place to live particularly in the GTA and Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).

Most notable of these measures is The Non-Resident Speculation Tax. In making the announcement, Premier Wynne was very clear that the tax “has nothing to do with new Canadians and people who want to make Ontario their home…with this tax, we’re targeting people whoaren’t looking for a place to raise a family. They’re looking only for a quick profit or a safe place to park their money.”

According to a press release from the Office of the Premier, this is a “15 per cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying residential properties containing one to six units in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).”

There are also measures designed to address rent control, stimulate creation of more new purpose-built rental apartment buildings, stem tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market, and to create a new Housing Supply Team to work with developers and municipalities.

You can learn more by visiting the following links:

https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2017/04/making-housing- more-affordable.html

https://news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2017/04/ontarios-fair- housing-plan.html

Will these measures work?

The answer to this is that time will tell. For now, the market continues to offer interesting options for selling, downsizing and investing. If you’re interested in exploring what potential the market has for you, talk to a Realtor ® .

The Mitra Moves You Team takes pride in serving Thornhill and other communities. We are committed to transforming dreams into sustainable wealth through strategic home ownership and real estate investments. And we’re just a phone call away.

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Downsizing Explained Real Estate

Time To Move To A Smaller Home? Downsizing Explained

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As a senior, you’re probably familiar with the notion of downsizing, i.e. selling your current home for a smaller residence. You may even have friends or relatives who have taken the plunge. For many people, making the move to a smaller home opens the door to living large. We are not really talking about having piles of money to spend (although for some that may be true!), we are talking about the opportunities that open up when you downsize.

Imagine being able to travel on a moment’s notice where all you have to do is lock the condo door behind you. Or after years of traveling back and forth, you’re finally close enough to be the one who hosts the birthday party. Or your years of commuting are over and you can finally live in that vibrant urban neighbourhood with amenities steps from your door. That’s living large and what downsizing could offer you.

7 Reasons People Downsize Their Home:

1. The kids are grown and the current house is too big

2. To do less house-related work

3. To be closer to children, grandchildren and other family

4. To decrease living expenses and save money

5. More freedom to travel

6. For a different lifestyle – city living for some, country living for others

7. Desire for a simpler life

Your reason for downsizing is as much a part of your smaller home search as your budget.

Make a list

Sit at your kitchen table with a pen and paper:

  • Make a list of reasons why you are considering downsizing.
  • Make a list of the best things about where you currently live.
  • Make a list of the things you would like to change.
  • Make a list of ‘needs’ (these are concrete things like the number of bathrooms, stairs vs. no stairs, yard size, accessibility, etc.).
  • Make a list of ‘wants’ (these are nice to have, but not deal breakers i.e., fireplace, landscaping, deck or pool, hardwood vs. carpeting, etc.)

The idea is to get you to imagine living somewhere new and to start thinking about the kind of lifestyle you want to live within that smaller space. This will also give you an idea of what you want your new residence to provide for you at this stage, and going forward, in your life.

Amazing smaller home options:

  • Condominium where you can come and go as you please; may offer amenities like gym, swimming pool, rooftop decks/gardens
  • Townhouse where snow removal and lawn care are done for you
  • Small detached or semi-detached home where you can garden and barbecue and have the grandchildren for a sleepover

Make a financial plan

Talk to your banker, financial adviser or other knowledgeable source about your desire to downsize. Discuss the impact this change will have on your finances. Prepare now, so that you understand the financial processes that will occur when you sell, buy and move to your new home. Some things to discuss:

  • Will you need a mortgage? How will that impact your income/savings into your retirement years?
  • Get help creating a budget to handle the following move-related expenses:
  • Closing costs
  • Moving expenses (you may need a professional to help you sort through your belongings and/or hire a company to pack and transport)
  • Minor renovations to your new home before you move (painting, hardwood refinish, minor repairs, etc.)
  • Create a budget based on your new home’s current fixed costs (i.e. utilities, property tax, etc.) so you know what your monthly expenses will look like BEFORE you buy.

Call a Realtor ®

And make an appointment to discuss your plan. If you haven’t purchased property in many years, it might feel like you’re doing it again for the very first time. A lot of rules, fees and regulations have changed. Your Realtor ® will help you with the following:

  • Assessing the current value of your home and giving you a realistic approximation of what you can expect to receive upon selling. Your home may be worth significantly more than you think at this time!
  • Informing you of closing costs you will incur including, but not limited to: Home inspection fees, Land transfer tax, Legal fees and related expenses, HST, Home insurance
  • Showing you a variety of properties that best represent your ‘must haves’ and ‘needs’ and negotiating your new home purchase.
  • Selling your current home.
  • Walking you through the process step-by- step.

Call The Mitra Moves You Team

Thriving communities offer an incredible range of dwellings from which to choose. If you’re downsizing, it’s possible to remain within – or close to – your current neighbourhood. Start by finding a Realtor who cares for you and knows the area. The Mitra Moves You Team takes pride in serving Thornhill and other communities. And we’re just a phone call away.

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Toronto Real Estate Market 2017

What does the Toronto real estate market hold for 2017?

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Of course, there’s no magical way to predict how the Toronto real estate market in 2017 will perform in the coming year, but if we take a close look at the Toronto real estate market last year, there are key indicators and past trends that can help predict how Toronto real estate in 2017 may unfold.

2016 Year-in- Review

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB) Market Year in Review Outlook Report 2017, last year was a year of record home sales that were driven by “population growth, low mortgage rates, low unemployment and above-inflation income growth.” A lot of buyers were shopping for homes but the demand for housing outstripped the inventory of houses on the market. As a result, housing prices increased.

High Demand + Low Inventory = Higher $$$

There was a lot of media buzz last year over foreign buying activity, but the statistics show that the record home sales we saw in 2016 were “heavily based on domestic demand.” In fact, foreign buying activity in the GTA only accounted for “a minimal 4.9 percent of transactions.”

The property types that saw the largest price growth last year include detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses. But with low inventory of these properties, competition in the Toronto condo market increased and resulted in a rise in condo prices as well. And according to an IPSOS Recent Home Buyer Profile, 51 percent of recent home purchases were made by first-time buyers.

Toronto Real Estate Market 2017 Outlook

For Prospective Buyers
Based on what we know from last year, it looks like the competition for available housing will outstrip the listings for sale in 2017. For hopeful home buyers, this means that there will be stiff competition for the listings available. Because of this, according to an IPSOS Profile of Likely Home Buyers conducted on behalf of TREB, 80 per cent of intending GTA home buyers plan to use a Realtor to help them navigate their home purchase.

For Prospective Sellers in the Toronto real estate market
TREB is forecasting the average selling price will see “an approximate calendar year growth rate ranging between 10 per cent and 16 per cent.” For prospective sellers, this may be a good year to consider future plans for downsizing or moving out of the city and take advantage of the valuable equity of your home. If you want to know the market value of your home, or need to learn about the options available to you, a Realtor is your best first step.

Let MMYT Be Your Guide

Mitra Moves You Team transforms dreams into sustainable wealth through strategic home ownership and real estate investments.
There are so many things to consider when purchasing or selling any property, that it can be overwhelming. Let the experts at the Mitra Moves You Team be your guide. We take pride in helping our clients find the ideal property based on their unique requirements. And we’re just a click or phone call away. Call 416-832-9292.

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Ontario’s land transfer tax changes

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News feeds have been buzzing about changes in Ontario’s Land Transfer Tax. This is something that will have particular impact on first-time buyers and luxury homebuyers. It’s a bit of a good news/bad news scenario. Here, we will explain the changes so that when you purchase your home, taking ownership will be a smooth and happy experience.

What is the Ontario Land Transfer Tax?

This is the tax the government of Ontario charges the homebuyer. The Land Transfer Tax (LTT) is payable on the day the transfer of ownership is registered, in other words, on closing day.

What are the changes?

First-time Homebuyer’s Refund: As of January 1, 2017 qualified first-time homebuyers may be eligible for a refund on all or part of the Ontario Land Transfer Tax to a maximum of $4000 (this new change doubles the current maximum rebate of $2000). Essentially, this will allow first-time buyers to claim more of the purchase price of a home before incurring LTT costs.

In monetary terms, it means that qualifying purchasers would pay no LTT on the first $368,000 of the purchase cost of any eligible property. So if you’re a qualified, first-time homebuyer and you buy an eligible home for say, $350,000, you pay $0 in Ontario LTT.

To benefit from this refund, first-time homebuyers must meet specific eligibility requirements. The property to be purchased must also meet specific eligibility requirements. Click here to learn what those requirements are.

New Land Transfer Tax Rates for Homebuyers:

For all homebuyers (not first-time) making property purchases, Ontario has “modernized” the LTT rates which have not changed since 1989. As of January 1, 2017 the new tax rates will be:

  • 0.5 per cent up to and including $55,000 (no change);
  • 1 per cent above $55,000 up to and including $250,000 (no change);
  • 1.5 percent above $250,000 up to and including $400,000
  • 2 per cent above $400,000 up to and including $2,000,000
  • 2.5 percent above $2,000,000 and over (an increase of 0.5 percent)

Is that all the LTT homebuyers have to pay?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Many local municipalities also charge LTT. For example, a home purchased in the city of Toronto is subject to the Municipal Land Transfer Tax. And like the Ontario LTT, it is due at the time of closing. The rates are similar to what Ontario charges. You can learn more here.

The City of Toronto does offer rebate opportunities for homebuyers including first-time buyers. To see if you are eligible for a City of Toronto LTT rebate, click here.

Wherever you are purchasing a home in Ontario, be sure to check if the municipality in which the home is located charges its own LTT. This will help you to be financially prepared and avoid any unpleasant surprises on the day of the property closing.

After all this, do homebuyers have to pay HST too?

The answer is a qualified ‘yes’. Homebuyers investing in a newly constructed home or one that has been significantly renovated are required to pay HST. However, HST does not apply to resale homes. The good news here is that buyers of new homes may receive a rebate of up to $24,000 of the provincial portion (8%) of the HST. To learn more, contact the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800- 959-1953.

Still have questions?

When it comes to purchasing a home there is no doubt that knowledge is power. We strongly recommend that you visit the links below to learn more. After all, the more you know, the more prepared you will be to find the home you’ve always wanted.

We invite you to contact us with any questions or if you’d like to further discuss any of these changes. Would you like to stay informed with more valuable articles like this one? Please click here to sign up for our newsletter!

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New Mortgage Rules Simplified

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Ready to purchase your new home? Before you do, you should know that Canada recently introduced new mortgage insurance rules.

Knowing and understanding how they will impact you will get you even closer to finding your dream home! Here, we have simplified what these changes are and how they will be implicated. Use this as a starting point in preparing for your new home purchase.

What exactly is mortgage insurance?

The technical term is mortgage default insurance. It is provided to banks or other financial institutions (lenders) through the three Canadian mortgage insurance companies including the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and is backed by the government of Canada. The job of mortgage insurance is to protect the lender in the event of a borrower defaulting on their mortgage. The Canadian government requires that lenders carry mortgage insurance for mortgages they grant. To do this, the lenders look at the down payment a prospective borrower is making towards the property they intend to purchase. Based on the down payment, the lender will and/or may require high-ratio mortgage insurance or low-ratio mortgage insurance.

High-ratio insurees usually make down payments equal to less than 20 per cent of the property purchase price to a minimum of 5 percent. The law requires that lenders purchase mortgage insurance fto buyers for all high-ratio mortgages. This cost is always passed on to the homebuyer.

Low-ratio insurees usually make down payments equal to 20 per cent or more of the property purchase price. Lenders have the option of purchasing mortgage insurance for these homebuyers. This cost is usually paid by the lender.

In order for a lender to approve a mortgage loan, the buyer must meet the criteria for qualifying for mortgage default insurance. In other words, the buyer must prove they can manage payment of the mortgage. Here is where the changes kick in:


The Buyer’s Stress Test

Buyers with high-ratio mortgages will be required to qualify for mortgage insurance through a mortgage rate “stress test”. To do this, lenders will calculate a potential buyer’s Gross Debt Service (GDS) and Total Debt Service (TDS) ratios. The GDS ratio is the percentage of a buyer’s gross monthly income that is required to pay their total monthly housing costs (principal, interest, property taxes & heating or P.I.T.H.). The new rules require that GDS be calculated using the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year fixed mortgage rate NOT the rate the buyer will be paying*.

To qualify for mortgage insurance, GDS must not exceed 39%. The TDS ratio is the percentage of a buyer’s gross monthly income that is required to pay their total monthly P.I.T.H. PLUS payments on all other debt. The new rules require that TDS be calculated using the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year fixed mortgage rate NOT the rate the buyer will be paying*. To qualify for mortgage insurance, TDS must not exceed 44%. By applying the higher interest rate in the calculation of GDS and TDS, the stress test can indicate a borrower’s ability to continue paying their debts in the event of rising interest rates or a reduction in household income.

Buyers with low-ratio mortgages will be subjected to the same high-ratio stress test as of November 30, 2016. In addition, key criteria they must also meet include (but are not limited to):

  • A maximum amortization length of 25 years
  • A property value of less than $1,000,000
  • A minimum credit score of 600

*Unless the buyer’s contract mortgage rate is higher, then the higher rate is used.

The Seller’s Tax Declaration

When you sell your primary residence in Canada, the proceeds from the sale are exempt from taxes and sellers were not required to report it to Canada Revenue. The new rules require that taxpayers must report the sale on their tax return in order to claim the exemption.  According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): “These measures will ensure that the principal residence exemption is available only in appropriate situations.”

Still have questions?

When it comes to purchasing a home there is no doubt that knowledge is power. We strongly recommend that you visit the links below to learn more. After all, the more you know, the more prepared you will be to find the home you’ve always wanted. We invite you to contact us with any questions or if you’d like to further discuss any of these changes.

Would you like to stay informed with more valuable articles like this one? Please click here to sign up for our newsletter!

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What Toronto’s real estate market will be like in 50 years

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In partnership with the Martin Prosperity Institute, we bring you a semi-scientific glimpse into the future of Toronto. Here, what’s next for the city’s housing market.

These ’hoods will be the hottest addresses in town

Mirvish Village
Last year, the behemoth Vancouver developers Westbank revealed their big plan for Honest Ed’s former home. They’ll transform the two-hectare site into a mixed-use fantasia of retail, office space, pedestrian-only streets and cycling infrastructure. Best of all: 900-plus rental apartments, many of them big enough for families.

Eglinton West
By the mid-2020s, the stretch of Eglinton west of the Allen will be one of the city’s transit hot spots—the Eglinton Crosstown will provide 19 kilometres of light rail transit between Weston Road and Kennedy. With transit comes intensification, business growth and the opportunity for commuters to get to work without touching downtown.

The Port Lands
Waterfront Toronto’s $17-billion revitalization plan will take decades to materialize. When it does, the once-barren lakeshore will be a glorious place to live, with 40,000 new residential units, 40,000 new jobs and loads of public green space.

Morningside
The University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus sits on 120-odd hectares of development-ready land, which will soon be connected to the rest of the city via the Eglinton LRT. Planners intend to enhance its relationship with the surrounding community, transforming Military Trail into a restaurant-packed pedestrian hub, adding new condos and amenities at Ellesmere and Morningside, and creating new park space near the edge of the Highland Creek Ravine.

Junction Triangle
Bloor and Dundas is a Metrolinx mobility hub, with a GO station that connects to the Lansdowne TTC station and an UP Express stop that connects to Dundas West. The new Museum of Contemporary Art is set to open next year in an old aluminum factory. Another 100,000 square feet in the plant will hold commercial and studio space. And the area is proving a magnet for mid-rise development—a unicorn in a city where every building seems to be either two storeys or 100.

We will live in the sky, underground or off the grid

In 50 years, we’ll have to maximize every square foot. Here, three cool homes of the future:

The mile-high skyscraper

Toronto is already building lofty condo towers, but in the future we’ll be creating mixed-use vertical cities that generate their own energy and offer every conceivable amenity:

Tap or hover over red dots to see more. (Illustration by Carl Wiens/i2i Art Inc.)

 

The iceberg house

As real estate prices go up, homeowners will opt to build down instead of upsizing. Iceberg houses are wildly popular in London, where the city has approved hundreds of applications:

Tap or hover over red dots to see more. (Illustration by Carl Wiens/i2i Art Inc.)

 

The micro-space

The future of sustainable living is the Ecocapsule, an adorable mobile pod designed by a Slovakian architecture firm. It’s meant for off-grid living—and poses a tempting alternative to cramped condo life in dense urban areas.

Tap or hover over red dots to see more. (Illustration by Carl Wiens/i2i Art Inc.)

All projected figures are in 2016 dollars.

Created in partnership with the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.