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  This means that up to $25,000 per person could be withdrawn tax-free from RRSPs to buy or build a principal residence.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Home buyers withdrawing funds do not have to pay income tax on the amount withdrawn, as long as the funds are repaid into an RRSP in the future.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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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 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

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

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 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.

Read full post

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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