How to Buy a Home in Toronto: 7 Tips and Tricks from Real Estate Insiders

HOW TO BUY A HOME IN TORONTO: 7 TIPS AND TRICKS FROM REAL ESTATE INSIDERS

No matter if you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market, there are a few critical steps you can take to make a smarter purchase. Since buying a home is likely the biggest single investment you will ever make, being prepared will help you make a better purchase. Here are the best tips to buying a home.

Know your buying power

What is your buying power? It’s the combination of your credit-worthiness and how much you can realistically pay for a home.

First, you need to understand the hidden costs of buying a home. You will need to save not only for the down payment of your home — which is typically around 20% of the offer price — but also for any additional transaction fees, such as land transfer tax, mortgage insurance (if needed), title insurance, and legal fees.

Then you need to know what you can realistically afford each month to understand how much house you can buy. Your mortgage rate will depend on your creditworthiness — if you have a high credit score, your lender will likely approve you for a lower mortgage rate, which can save you thousands of dollars per year in interest.

How much of your budget should go to your monthly home costs? According to SmartAssets, you can use the 36% rule as a rough guideline. This means that your monthly obligation shouldn’t be more than 36% of your monthly gross income.

A loan professional can help you figure out how much house you can afford.

Fix your credit with the help of a loan professional

According to CreditKarma, a good credit score is usually 720 or above. You want to clean up your credit as soon as you can, and definitely before you go to a lender for a loan preapproval.

When you apply for your mortgage pre-approval, you don’t want to have anything to hide on your application. So don’t lower your credit score by doing anything that will originate more inquiries into your credit. For example, don’t open any new credit cards. Also, don’t omit any debts or loans when you apply. If the loan officer discovers them in the application process, they may deny you a pre-approval.

Get a mortgage professional to check your credit score for you. A professional can give you a clearer idea if your score is in the ‘good’ range, or if you need to do some credit cleanup before getting a mortgage preapproval.

Work with a knowledgeable buyer’s agent

Do you understand what kind of market you are buying into? Even within a city’s limits, there can be micro markets that are increasing or decreasing in value.

That’s why it’s important to hire a highly competent real estate agent who knows the specific market. You want to make sure that the professional who you’re working with really understands what the market is like and will help you find the home that you want.

How can you tell if your agent knows the market? See if they can provide you with a buyer’s market analysis.

A buyer’s market analysis report outlines which neighborhoods are still up and coming — with potential for increased property value — versus those that have peaked with inflated home prices. Having this analysis at your fingertips will help you know if a home’s list price is above comparable properties so you don’t overpay for a home.

Don’t try to time the market…

Even in a hot market, there’s never a perfect time to buy a home. It can take a while to know exactly what you like, and you may have to look at 10 or more homes before you can recognize what suits your lifestyle best. While you’re shopping, take photos of your favourite properties and the details that you liked the best so that you can remember what you liked.

Another good reason to slow down the buying process: you might find a better deal if you do. Investigate expired listings. Expired listings may have gone off the market because they didn’t get any offers at the listed price, so you may be able to underbid the original listing price. It’s not likely worth your time to look at FSBO (for sale by owner) listings, though. Since they are not represented by a professional, they are often overpriced.

When you start shopping, have a one-hour initial consultation with your realtor. Give them every single detail that you know about your lifestyle, buying power, needs, wants and desires for your home. The more detail you can provide, the easier it will be for them to help you find your future home. Your agent may also know of exclusive, or “pocket”, listings not available to the general public.

… But make the offer as soon as you find the right home

If you love it, make the offer. Otherwise, that dream home may disappear faster than you think, especially if you’re buying in a hot market, as is the case in Toronto currently.

Your buying agent should contact the listing agent before you submit an offer so that they can decide what’s important to include in the offer. If you’re serious about it, you want to increase the chances that your offer is accepted.

Show that you’re serious about the purchase by creating a buyer’s offer package. It should include your lender’s pre-approval letter, proof of your down payment money in your bank account, and comps that support the rationalization of the offer you are presenting.

Get a home inspection

Once you’re ready to offer, it’s essential that you get a home inspector to conduct a thorough home inspection.  In Toronto’s current real estate market, the home inspection is oftentimes conducted by a reputable inspection company before the property even hits the market — and is paid for by the Sellers — this is what’s called a pre-list inspection.

The inspector always looks for major structural issues, including problems with the foundation, plumbing, and electrical systems. Keep in mind, you always have the option as a buyer to have your own home inspection done.

Protect your credit before you close

Don’t raise any red flags with your creditworthiness in the weeks before closing. Any one of these moves could mean that you’re denied the mortgage and the deal falls through — even if you’ve already been pre-approved!

  • Keep your spending to a minimum and don’t make any major purchases before closing — that includes buying furniture, or a car, truck, or van, or any excessive charges on your credit card.
  • Keep your bank accounts stable. Don’t change banks, spend any of the money you have set aside for closing, or make any large deposits to your accounts without checking with your lender first.
  • Keep your employment situation stable — now is not the time to change jobs, quit your job, or become self-employed. Any sudden change in your income can have that pre-approval offer rescinded.
  • Do not co-sign a mortgage for anyone. It will open an inquiry into your credit and add to your debt, which could raise your mortgage rate and cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.

Looking for a home in our area? Let me help you find the home of your dreams. I’m well versed in our local real estate market, and I can provide you with a buyer’s market analysis, called the Market Edge Package™ — a system I’ve developed that will help me to assess your current situation and clarify your overall objectives/goals in order to find the right neighbourhood for you. Contact me today.

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Top Homeowner Tax Deductions That Decrease Your Tax Burden in Toronto

Top Homeowner Tax Deductions - Marian Keriakos

Top Homeowner Tax Deductions That Decrease Your Tax Burden

Sadly, you can’t avoid paying taxes, and we all need to pay our fair share. However, paying your fair share shouldn’t place an unjust burden on you. As a homeowner, your tax burden is doubled because you pay both income and property taxes. To decrease that burden and boost your tax savings, take advantage of these homeowner tax deductions…and use your tax savings to go on a vacation, increase your child’s college/university fund, build on your retirement fund, or complete another home improvement project.

First-time Home Buyers Tax Credit

First-time home buyers may be eligible for a 15 per-cent income tax credit for closing costs.  This 15 percent credit is based on a maximum of $5,000 of home purchase costs (e.g. legal fees, land transfer taxes, etc.), meaning a maximum tax relief of $750.

Typically, an individual is considered a first-time home buyer if neither the individual nor the individual’s spouse or common-law partner owned and lived in another home in the calendar year of the home purchase or in any of the four preceding calendar years.

RRSP Homebuyer’s Plan

If you buy the qualifying home together with your spouse or other individuals, each of you can withdraw up to $25,000.  This means that up to $25,000 per person could be withdrawn tax-free from RRSPs to buy or build a principal residence. Couples — including common-law — will be able to withdraw up to $50,000.

Home buyers withdrawing funds do not have to pay income tax on the amount withdrawn, as long as the funds are repaid into an RRSP in the future.

The 15-year repayment period will begin in the second calendar year following the calendar year in which the withdrawal is made. In addition, a qualifying home must generally be acquired before October 1 of the calendar year following the year of withdrawal. For example, those making withdrawals under the plan in 2009 will have until October 1, 2010 to acquire a qualifying home and their first annual repayment will be due by the end of 2011 or the first two months of 2012.

The one key thing to note is this: you have to meet the first-time buyer’s condition. You are not considered a first-time home buyer if you or your spouse owned a home that you occupied as your principal place of residence in the past 5 years. To determine past 5 years, the 4 years preceding the year you make your withdrawal plus the period in the year you make your withdrawal ending 31 days before your withdrawal is the rule adopted.

HST New Housing Rebate

You may be eligible to claim a rebate for a part of the HST you pay on the purchase price of a newly constructed home or the cost of building your home if:

  1. you buy a new or substantially renovated home (including the land or if you lease the land) from a builder;
  2. you buy a new mobile home (including a modular home) or a floating home from a builder or vendor;
  3. you buy a share of capital stock of a co-operative housing corporation;
  4. you construct or substantially renovate your own home, or carry out a major addition (or hire another person to do so); or
  5. your home is destroyed in a fire and is subsequently rebuilt.

Land Transfer Tax Rebates

First-time buyers of new and re-sale homes are eligible to receive rebates of the provincial and Toronto land transfer taxes. The maximum provincial land transfer tax (LTT) rebate for first-time buyers is $2,000 and the maximum Toronto LTT rebate for first-time buyers is $3,725.

Rental Income

If you rent a property you own or that you have use of, when you report this rental income, you can claim allowable expenses such as advertising, insurance and interest on money you borrow to buy or improve the property.

Taxpayers Who Work From Home

If you work from home, there are a number of expenses that you can deduct if you are either self-employed, a commissioned employee or a professional.  Examples of the type of expenses that you can claim include heating, home insurance, electricity and cleaning materials.

Appealing Your Assessment to Lower Your Property Taxes

City of Toronto 2016 interim property tax bills were mailed to property owners between January 7th and January 31st, 2016. The 2016 interim property tax bill was the first of two bills issued for 2016. The 2016 final property tax bill will be mailed in May, 2016.

Although property taxes in Toronto are here to stay, you should make sure that you are paying a reasonable amount based on the true value of your home and land. Many homes get overvalued because assessors misjudge in valuing a home and homeowners don’t pay attention to these mistakes. Consequently, homeowners unwittingly pay more than they should in property taxes.

There are 3 steps to take if you don’t agree with your property’s assessment:

  1. Visit aboutmyproperty.ca to check all the information that the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) has on file for your property and also get a detailed Property Profile Report.  This is a great opportunity to check if any information is out of date or incorrect (if so, you can send updates to MPAC directly through the website). You can also obtain detailed information on up to six properties MPAC believes to be comparable to yours, free of charge, by submitting a request.
  2. Request a copy of the home appraisal from your lender. Your appraisal will include everything you need: comparable properties, photos and the estimated value.
  3. Reach out to your real estate agent/broker and request a report of similar properties that have recently sold in your neighbourhood. Typically, we can find three to five approximate values of comparable properties similar to yours, and these comps can then be used to support your claim that your home is overvalued. This is especially useful if the assessor used poor historical sales data.

The good news is that if you feel your assessed value as of the valuation date or property classification is not correct, MPAC will review it free of charge – this is called a Request for Reconsideration. For the 2016 tax year, your deadline to file a RfR with MPAC is March 31, 2016 . You can potentially lower your property tax burden by filing an appeal, which essentially shows that your home has been overvalued, meaning that your tax assessment claims your property is worth more than it is.

Once you are ready to file your appeal, you will need to make sure to include as many reasons as possible as to why you believe your assessment should be lower. It is always a good idea to include a copy of your property’s appraisal and photos of your neighbourhood.

Even if the number on the tax assessment seems close, you should still consider appealing your property tax. The typical savings from a successful tax appeal can be over 15%!

In January 2016, the average sale price in the GTA was $631,092. So, if you’re able to reduce your assessed value by 15 percent to $536,428 and consequently save 15 percent on your tax bill, your new tax bill will be about $3,785.06 (down from $4,453.01). That’s a savings of $667.95!

Need help getting information to protest your property taxes? 

Contact me directly and we’ll schedule time to produce some comparable property values to use for your documentation, ultimately leading you in the right direction towards saving you money on your taxes.

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Just Sold! 202 Cranbrooke Ave – Bedford Park Real Estate in North Toronto

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The moment you step into this fully updated and exceptionally renovated North Toronto home featuring 2000+ square feet of living space with 4+1 bedrooms, 3 baths, 1 wood-burning fireplace, and ideal eat-in kitchen, you will realize just how special this offering is. Included is an oversized garage that can easily fit one-and-a-half cars, with additional space on the private drive for two more cars. Steps to John Wanless PS in the heart of a vibrant community.

Walk through the inviting main-floor foyer and enter into a bright and spacious living room featuring a cozy wood-burning fireplace, large picture window and solid hardwood floors. Continue through the large entryway in to the formal dining area featuring solid hardwood floors, large west-facing picture window and beautiful trim work. Step through to the spacious contemporary, renovated kitchen featuring Caesarstone Quartz counters and kitchen Island, hardwood flooring, tiled backsplash and sleek stainless steel appliances. This stunning kitchen with breakfast island overlooks the home’s beautifully landscaped back yard – the ideal backdrop for unwinding and entertaining! The main floor also features a convenient powder room.

Retreat upstairs to the serene, master bedroom oasis featuring hardwood floors and wall-to-wall closets. This second floor also features three additional well proportioned bedrooms with hardwood flooring and ample closet space.

There is no lack of storage space on the upper level with, not only a linen closet and additional hallway closet space, but an incredible attic that is 500 square feet – all which is easily accessible through handy built-in pull-down stairs!

The basement was recently significantly lowered and professionally finished to offer a huge family room area, complete with guest room (can be used as a nanny suite or even an office) and built-in Murphy bed and large bathroom featuring a steam shower. The basement, which has 8-foot ceilings, also features a bright and inviting laundry space. Heated floors throughout and oversized west-facing windows make this space feel warm and light-filled.

A rare opportunity to own this fully updated and extensively renovated, open and inviting home just steps from John Wanless PS, parks, shops/cafes & TTC. Be in the heart of it all – minutes to Yonge Street, this home comes loaded with both charm and intelligent design. This would be the perfect city home for a growing family. Included is an oversized garage that can easily fit one-and a half cars and additional space on the private drive for two more cars.

Bedford Park is one of central Toronto’s most vibrant, self-contained residential neighbourhoods. Toronto Life does an excellent job of summing it up: “With Avenue and Yonge providing commercial activity, a library, a subway stop and a community centre [Bedford Park] is the sort of neighbourhood you only have to leave to go to work, see a movie, or visit friends who live in other parts of the city”.

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One of the various attractions of Bedford Park is the caliber of both public and private schools that surround it.

Public Schools

Private Schools

Parks in the area abound.  Wanless Park – the largest park in the area – is located at the end of Wanless Ave just east of Mount Pleasant.  It includes a wading pool and children’s playground, in addition to a baseball diamond, a basketball court, and five tennis courts.  Woburn Park – west of Yonge at the corner of Jedburgh and Woburn Ave – also has a wading pool and children’s playground.

Minutes to an incredible selection of top-rated boutique shops, exciting restaurants, and cozy cafes – there is a strong sense of community in this area.  This child-friendly high demand neighbourhood is minutes to the Fairlawn Neighbourhood Centre (featuring a wide array of music, fitness, arts & drama programming for families), Kidville (featuring exciting, creative & fun classes/programs designed by early childhood development specialists), Just Ducky (featuring the extremely popular martial arts program for children), Freehand School of Art, 4 Cats Art Studio, and Tandem Dance Studio…just to name a few.

The George Locke Public Library – located at the south-east corner of Yonge and Lawrence – offers the community a rich array of programs, classes, and exhibits. From story time for toddlers, to crafts, hobbies, book clubs, and computer training for adults, this library is one of the city’s best.

Centrally located with access to the 401, excellent public transportation on TTC Yonge subway line, as well as TTC buses to reach downtown Toronto or other surrounding municipalities.

Living and working in your area has its benefits
If you’d like to be informed of recent sales in Bedford Park and to be kept in the know, feel free to contact me by filling out the form below. If you are thinking of buying, call me to arrange a showing.

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Lawrence Park Real Estate in North Toronto

Lawrence Park is one of central Toronto’s most affluent, exclusive, picturesque residential neighbourhoods. Toronto Life does an excellent job of summing it up: “It’s the perfect neighbourhood for people (increasingly young families, according to the latest census) who like the quietude and big-lawned openness of suburban life, with all the amenities and excitement of the big city within a five-minute drive”.

Located within the City of Toronto’s neighbourhoods known as Lawrence Park South, this north Toronto community is bordered by Yonge Street to the west and Bayview Avenue to the east, and from Blythwood Ravine Park, Sherwood Park & Sunnydene Park to the south and Lawrence Avenue to the north.  Lawrence Park is known for its quiet, tree-lined streets. It emerged in the early part of the 1900’s, but did not fully develop until after the Second World War.

Centred on Mount Pleasant Road, the neighbourhood grew slowly with medium-sized houses on narrow but deep lots. Homes that are typically found in Lawrence Park include Tudor, Edwardian, and Georgian designs.  Newly constructed homes tend to range from those staying true to existing older homes surrounding them to the ultra modern.

Since Spring 2013, the list prices of detached homes in Lawrence Park ranged from a low of $899,800 to a high of $7,295,000 with an average list price of $2,713,580.  Sold prices ranged from a low of $845,000 to a high of $5,500,000 with an average sold price of $2,478,496.  Average time on market was 35 days.

One of the various attractions of Lawrence Park is the caliber of both public and private schools that surround it.

Public Schools

Private Schools

  • Toronto French School
  • Havergal College
  • St. Clement’s School
  • Crescent School
  • Crestwood School
  • Crestwood College
  • Parks in the area abound.  Alex Muir Memorial Park is located at the south-east corner of Yonge & Lawrence along the Northern Ravines and Gardens Discovery Walk Route. The Memorial Gardens are a beautiful spot to spend a quite summer afternoon and are also the western gateway to a long trail that eventually leads to Sunnybrook Park. Walking trails open all year.  Other parks in the vicinity include Blythwood Ravine Park, Sherwood Park, and Cheltenham Park.

    Residents of Lawrence Park are minutes to some of Canada’s most prestigious institutions, including the Granite Club, the Rosedale Golf Club, and the Cricket Club.

    One of the many draws to the area is the extremely strong and vibrant Lawrence Park Athletic Association, which is a neighbourhood recreational organization designed for children and teens from the ages of 4 – 16 who want to belong to a sports team in their community.  The LPAA promotes fun, camaraderie, teamwork and skills development through its baseball, hockey, soccer and swimming programs.  The LPAA also organizes the much anticipated Family Fun Day held annually in Cheltenham Park.

    The George Locke Public Library – located at the south-east corner of Yonge and Lawrence – offers the community a rich array of programs, classes, and exhibits. From story time for toddlers, to crafts, hobbies, book clubs, and computer training for adults, this library is one of the city’s best.

    Restaurants, pubs, cafes and retail shops abound – there is a strong sense of community in this area also known as Yonge Lawrence Village.  For a comprehensive listing of all the amenities the area has to offer, please visit the Yonge Lawrence Village BIA. Neighbourhoods that surround Lawrence Park include Lytton Park to the west, Bridle Path to the east, Bedford Park to the north and Sherwood Park to the south.

    Living and working in your area has its benefits
    If you’d like to be informed of recent sales in Lawrence Park and to be kept in the know, feel free to contact me by filling out the form below.

    If you are thinking of selling
    Call me to arrange a complimentary SELLER’S PACKAGE that includes tips & tricks on how to get your home sale-ready and a current home evaluation.

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Market Edge Package™ developed by Toronto real estate broker Marian Keriakos

Market Edge Package developed by Toronto real estate broker Marian Keriakos

The Market Edge Package™ helps you build equity from the sale or purchase of your property, whether it be a house, condo, or loft, while investing in your future. Created by Chestnut Park’s Marian Keriakos, a Toronto real estate broker with an education finance and marketing, The Market Edge Package™ is for individuals who are looking for real professional business and market expertise in making one of life’s biggest purchases and investments.

“I work primarily with successful business professionals who want a lot more from their Toronto real estate agent” says Keriakos. “My clients are time-stretched and have a hectic lifestyle. They are looking for exceptional market and investment knowledge, along with that element of professionalism and being catered to that comes from paying attention to every detail. They may be concerned about securing accurate and trustworthy information. They haven’t quite determined what strategy to take, and they want to be really well taken care of during every step of the process. They also want to avoid making a bad investment decision.”

“That’s why we created The Market Edge Package™, a step‐by‐step process for listing or purchasing your Toronto property,” says Keriakos. “We provide you with a checklist of all of the services that you can expect to receive, as well as a lot of extras – complimentary value that we have added in order to make your experience enjoyable and stress‐free.”

“Working through our process, you will understand all the steps that you need to take. You will be getting accurate and responsive information. You will feel confident about the Toronto real estate market. You will receive the most professional market and investment advice. You will have a strategy that makes good business sense. You will be able to follow the steps in a logical and simple manner. In fact, we look forward to pampering you as we help you make that next big investment in your future.”

If you are thinking of listing or purchasing
Contact me today. I approach things differently with my clients – we can sit down and go through my complimentary Market Edge Package™ that will help assess your current situation and clarify your overall objectives/goals.

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Bedford Park Real Estate in North Toronto

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Bedford Park is one of central Toronto’s most vibrant, self-contained residential neighbourhoods. Toronto Life does an excellent job of summing it up: “With Avenue and Yonge providing commercial activity, a library, a subway stop and a community centre [Bedford Park] is the sort of neighbourhood you only have to leave to go to work, see a movie, or visit friends who live in other parts of the city”.

Located within the City of Toronto’s neighbourhoods known as Lawrence Park North, this north Toronto community is bordered by Avenue Road to the west and Yonge Street to the east, and from Lawrence Avenue to the south and Brooke Avenue to the north.  It also extends further east of Yonge: from Lawrence Avenue to the south and Snowdon Avenue to the north, and from Yonge to the west and Ronan Avenue to the east.  Bedford Park is known for its quiet, tree-lined streets. It emerged in the early part of the 1900’s, but did not fully develop until after the Second World War.

Centred on Yonge Street, the neighbourhood grew slowly with medium-sized houses on narrow but deep lots. Homes that are typically found in Bedford Park include Tudor, Edwardian, and Georgian designs.  Newly constructed homes tend to range from those staying true to existing older homes surrounding them to the ultra modern.

Since Spring 2013, the list prices of detached homes in Bedford Park ranged from a low of $599,900 to a high of $2,525,000 with an average list price of $1,222,112.  Sold prices ranged from a low of $584,000 to a high of $2,025,000 with an average sold price of $1,183,066.  Average time on market was 17 days.

One of the various attractions of Bedford Park is the caliber of both public and private schools that surround it.

Public Schools

Private Schools

Parks in the area abound.  Wanless Park – the largest park in the area – is located at the end of Wanless Ave just east of Mount Pleasant.  It includes a wading pool and children’s playground, in addition to a baseball diamond, a basketball court, and five tennis courts.  Woburn Park – west of Yonge at the corner of Jedburgh and Woburn Ave – also has a wading pool and children’s playground.

One of the many draws to the area is the extremely strong and vibrant Fairlawn Neighbourhood Centre, which is a truly unique place that works hard to blend wellness and education under one roof.  Children’s programs offered include music, fitness and arts & play.  Also offered are after-school and teen programs, in addition to a myriad of energy-filled adult fitness classes.

The George Locke Public Library – located at the south-east corner of Yonge and Lawrence – offers the community a rich array of programs, classes, and exhibits. From story time for toddlers, to crafts, hobbies, book clubs, and computer training for adults, this library is one of the city’s best.

Restaurants, pubs, cafes and retail shops abound – there is a strong sense of community in this area also known as Yonge Lawrence Village.  For a comprehensive listing of all the amenities the area has to offer, please visit the Yonge Lawrence Village BIA. Neighbourhoods that surround Bedford Park include Lytton Park to the south, Wanless Park to the east and Lawrence Park to the south & east.

Living and working in your area has its benefits
If you’d like to be informed of recent sales in Bedford Park and to be kept in the know, feel free to contact me by filling out the form below.

If you are thinking of selling
Call me to arrange a complimentary SELLER’S PACKAGE that includes tips & tricks on how to get your home sale-ready and a current home evaluation.

First Name

Last Name

Your Email (required)

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Toronto basement rental apartments – what you need to know

In Toronto, a second suite is a self-contained rental unit in a single-detached or semi-detached house. Most second suites are basement apartments. They have also been called “granny flats”, “in-law suites” and “accessory” apartments. The new by-law permits second suites in all single-detached and semi-detached homes throughout the City of Toronto with certain conditions. Toronto has prepared an information kit that provides easy-to-read information on how to create a legal second suite.

Although second suites often take the form of basement apartments, they can be located on an upper floor, or the back part of a house. In order for a second suite to be considered legal, the following must be met:

– residential zoning requirements
– property standards
– occupancy standards
– health and safety requirements
– fire and electric codes

If you’ve ever put in an offer on a property containing a second suite, you may have noticed that real estate agents frequently insert a clause stating that the “seller does not warrant the retrofit status of the basement apartment” to signify whether the basement unit is or is not fully “legal”. But in this context, the term “retrofit” only refers to fire code — one of the five requirements.

According to an article written by Toronto real estate lawyer Bob Aaron in March 2012, the provincial fire code is a subset of the Ontario building code. The building code applies only to the day the unit was constructed. Only the fire code is retroactive — and this gives rise to the term “retrofit”.

In 1994, the provincial government set new fire code rules with which all basement apartments, new and existing, must comply. A unit upgraded to comply with the fire code is called a “basement retrofit”. Compliance with the fire code involves four requirements: fire containment, means of escape, fire detection and alarms, and electrical safety. Once a unit has been inspected and any deficiencies corrected, the fire department will issue a retrofit certificate to verify compliance.

But a unit that has been fully retrofitted may still not comply with zoning, building code and other requirements.

Identifying whether a municipality’s bylaws permit basement apartments is also important when buying a house with a basement unit.

The building code, which prescribes minimum requirements for the construction of buildings, for the most part, applies only to the day the house was built, and not retroactively.

Electrical safety refers to the required inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority.

Buyers of houses with basement rental apartments should do their due diligence to investigate whether the unit does or does not comply with the fire code, building code, electrical safety requirements and municipal zoning by-laws.

If you’d like to speak with me about Toronto basement rental apartments, or second suites, please fill out the form below and I will connect with you shortly.

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Thinking of tackling some landscaping projects ahead of Toronto’s Spring real estate market? Look no further.

Thinking of tackling some landscaping this Spring? Need an amazing Toronto contractor? Look no further.

I recently posted a testimonial for terrific contractors that we had used for our personal property – I invite you to have a look at Dynamic Terrain Contractors – they specialize in landscape design & build services. From a real estate perspective, I can attest to the importance of investing in great curb appeal when it comes time to selling a home!

“As a Toronto real estate broker who has “seen it all”, I can admit to having high standards – and Dynamic Terrain Contractors amazingly exceeded my expectations. Our front yard had horrific railway ties that had seen their day. Eroded and falling apart, we knew that it was time to make a change. After calling a few contractors, my initial phone conversation with Melanie was refreshing – she was extremely professional, knowledgeable and understood that time was of the essence. And with only 1 meeting with Adam not thirty minutes later, I was sure that Dynamic Terrain Contractors would do a great job. What an incredible transformation to our home’s front yard – they installed a gorgeous new retaining wall, installed a perfectly-laid interlocking driveway, new wooden stairs & porch, and re-sodded the grass – all within their time estimate and within budget. Not only are they amazing at what they do, their first-rate attention to the client is what sets them apart – I would have no hesitation in recommending them to all my neighbours, friends, & clients – and have already!! Thank you, Melanie, Adam & your team, for drastically transforming our front yard and adding such fantastic curb appeal – it’s still such a pleasure to come home to, almost 2 years later!”

If you’d like to know more about how investing in exterior improvements to your home can benefit you in this Spring’s Toronto real estate market, or if you’d like to speak with me about the above testimonial, please fill out the form below and I will connect with you shortly.

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How stagers can increase the value of your home in the Toronto real estate market

These days, there’s definitely intense competition among Toronto home buyers. So, when selling a property in Toronto, despite the fact that we are currently in an undeniable Seller’s market, countless studies have shown that staging a house helps to sell that property in the shortest amount of time, for the highest possible price. Period.

Take a look at these two photos – one of Toronto’s top staging companies, Staging Works, recommended the following to my extremely attentive (and obedient!) clients following their consultation — you’ll agree that the transformation of this custom-built luxury home’s living room was drastic!!

Switch the paint to a neutral colour to allow for a more spacious feel as well as to assist prospective buyers in visualizing their personal belongings

De-clutter and depersonalize the space by removing the personal collectibles and nick-knacks as this can be distracting to people walking through for the first time

Rearrange the existing furniture to create the best traffic patterns

Strategically place lighting and artwork – again, so as not to feel too overwhelming

Arrange the best view of the room

In this case, less was more. Following the staging recommendations, the clutter-free space, streamlined furniture and carefully curated accessories allowed the property to show better, impress buyers, and bring in a higher offer (when compared to the area’s recent sales). The effect of staging was that it helped potential buyers to visualize themselves in the home by creating the effect of a “model” home. My clients were ecstatic that their luxury home sold for 99% of asking in a record-breaking 1 day!!

BEFORE

Pre-staged -- 6 Ormsby Court living room

AFTER

Post-staged -- 6 Ormsby Court living room

If you’d like to know more about how staging in the Toronto real estate market can benefit you, or if you’d like to speak with me about my recommendations for Toronto’s top home stagers, please fill out the form below and I will connect with you shortly.

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Precision in pricing is critical in the Toronto condo real estate market

The Toronto condo real estate market might appear to be fickle. On the one hand, you can have a unit sell within a couple of weeks in a seemingly effortless manner, and on the other, have another unit in the same building sit “stale” for months. Now, more than ever, I’m convinced that precision in pricing is critical in our Toronto condo real estate market.

Take a recent listing of mine that just sold at Seventy5 Portland – the moment you stepped into this stunning, light-filled, corner loft featuring 733 square feet of living space with 1 bedroom, spacious 4-piece bath, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows and ideal open concept layout, you realized just how special this offering was. The loft boasted a north-east facing 176 square-foot balcony with gas hook-up for a BBQ.

Since it wasn’t going to be the only loft available for sale in the building when we came to market, my client & I felt that the upgraded, open and inviting loft, just steps to King Street, cafes, lounges, Queen West shops, 24-hour access to King/Queen streetcars, and minutes to the Financial District needed to be priced right — the first time.

In the heart of it all, this loft ended up being the perfect space for a discriminating urban professional – sold at 98% of ask in only 5 days:

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“Marian is extremely professional, highly responsive and a pleasure to work with. She relieved much of the stress of the buying and selling process. I used Marian for the sale of my last two condos: the first sold after only one day on the market, and the second after only five days. I was very happy with the results!”

If you’d like to know how the downtown Toronto condo resale market is doing for Seventy5 Portland, or your specific building, or if you’d like to receive my monthly online newsletter with up-to-date market information on the Toronto real estate market, please fill out the form below and I will connect with you shortly.

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