Thursday, September 4, 2008

Toronto Housing Still Going Strong

Unlike our neighbors down south, the Toronto housing market continues to grow. According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, housing sales in the GTA have increased about 4% and the prices continue to go up.

There has, however, been a softening in the market. For the last 10 years or so, Toronto has been operating in a crazy Seller's market. We are now approaching a more balanced market, meaning that there will probably be a smaller chance of multiple bids, and more choice for buyers.

Sellers, never fear. You can still get a good price for your home, but be prepared to wait a bit longer than we have in the past for your home to sell.

Buyers, this is a great time to buy. Interest rates are still low and, without 100 multiple offers to have to compete with, you are more likely to get an uninflated price.

100% Financing Ending in October 2008

For those of you who are thinking of buying a home but are waiting for the right time, this bit of info may put the fire under you to speed up the process.

Because of the recent world events, as of the end of October 2008, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation will no longer allow you to purchase a home with 0% downpayment. So if you have good credit and you

a] haven't saved enough for a 20% downpayment
b] have the downpayment but choose to invest it to make you money,

call your mortgage broker. I have a couple of great people that I work with if you need a referral.

Here's a scenario taken from the CMHC website:

Buyer A
Ann buys a $164,000 home in 2000 with a 5% down payment of $8,200.
Here her mortgage is insured through CMHC, which required a mortgage insurance premium of $5,842 (based on the Insurance premium in effect in 2000 — 3.75%).

Buyer B
Julie delays buying her home for four years, until 2004, while she saves the 20% down payment in order to avoid incurring a mortgage insurance premium.
In those four years, that same average Canadian home appreciates from $164,000 to a value of $227,000.
The down payment Julie required to purchase this house in 2004 was $56,750.

Check out the CMHC Website and give me a call to help you find your perfect property.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Air Conditioning 101

For those of you who happened to miss the giant AC Heating & Air Conditioning signs plastered in front of my house for the last 20 years, my family is in HVAC, meaning heating and air conditioning.

Even though the summer in Toronto this year has been very un-summer-like, many of you may be wondering how to choose that all important air conditioner purchase. Here are some things that you should know about central air conditioning, so that you're a bit more informed when you go into the sales office.


Outdoor Unit - This is the half of the air conditioner that everyone knows, the box that sits at the side of your house. Believe it or not, this isn't everything. The Outdoor Unit works in conjunction with the Indoor Unit.

Indoor Unit (Coil) - This pyramid-shaped unit sits on top of your furnace. This little guy works very hard to keep your house cool, so be nice to it.

Furnace - I shouldn't have to explain what this is, right? The furnace is very important to the operation of your air conditioner. The air conditioner uses the heat and air produced by the furnace. That means that the more efficient and powerful your furnace, the more efficient your air conditioning unit will be.

SEER - Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio; All you need to know is that this is how Energy efficient your unit is. The higher the number, the better. The old units were pretty bad, running at 8 SEER, in comparison to the ones available today that start at a MINIMUM of 13 SEER and go all the way up to 21 SEER. Let's put it this way, if you still have a clunky old 8 SEER unit, it may be cheaper for you to purchase a new 13-14 SEER unit than to keep paying your hydro bills for the next couple of years.

EER - Energy Efficiency Ratio; Works hand in hand with the SEER ratio. This helps to determine if units qualify for the Energy Star category. You don't need to think about this that much if you're a lay person.

R410A Refrigerant - This is the newer type of refrigerant used in air conditioners. It is under high pressure, so it is EXTREMELY important to let a trained professional handle this. R410A is more environmentally friendly since it doesn't emit ozone and it lasts longer. Units using R410A will cost a bit more than those using the older R22 refrigerant. R410A and R22 ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE! Please do not put R410a in a unit that is made for R22 and vice versa. It's dangerous.

R22 Refrigerant - This is the older type of refrigerant. Units that use R22 will not be manufactured as of 2010, but if you currently own a R22 unit, not to worry. You will be able to refill your refrigerant until 2030. More than enough time. The units using R22 are less expensive than those using R410A, but this refrigerant does emit ozone.

Decibels (db) - This is how loud the unit is. Obviously, the lower the better. Numbers in the 70s and lower are pretty good.

EcoEnergy Grant - The Federal (Canada) and Provincial (Ontario) Governments are offering incentives for people with older homes to retrofit their homes and make them more energy efficient. Whatever you qualify for with the Provincial Government, the Federal Government will match that. This covers everything from getting new energy efficient doors and windows, to re-doing attic insulation and installing low-flush toilets. You could get up to $10 000 back if you do everything (keep in mind you have to spend a lot more to get $10 000 back). The grant is only available for older homes that have EXISTING problems. So, if you don't already have an air conditioner, you don't qualify. If you live in new construction, you also don't qualify.

In terms of brand names and which is better, it is hard to say. Each brand has it's specialty. Some are quieter, smaller, more efficient, have newer technology, etc. Some of the bigger names are Lennox, Carrier, York and Trane. There are also Keeprite, Bryant, Goodman, etc.

Deciding on the unit is the easy part. Make sure you go to a contractor you trust. Prices may be higher or lower for different contractors. Just make sure you trust them and want to work with them because they will be in your home for years to come. Remember, a good contractor will be there for you. Beware the wham-bam-thank-you-mam's who install the sucker and is never to be found again. Do your research and get referrals. Look for contractors with showrooms or set office spaces. Check how long they have been in business. Ask if they have any employees or if they work alone. While many single contractors do excellent work, it is harder for a contractor to disappear with your money when he/she has employees and a store front.

Crown Moulding 101

I was speaking to a client yesterday. Since he is a builder, I decided to pick his brain about the basics of crown moulding. The info below is just me regurgitating what he said.

For those of you who don't know, crown moulding is kind of like putting baseboard trim around the edge of the ceiling. It can really make your home feel more upscale and make the ceiling feel higher than it actually is.

The moulding can be either wood or plaster. The plaster looks just as good as the wood but is less expensive. I am guessing that the wood is more durable, but if it's stuck to the top of your walls and no one ever touches it, I imagine they would both last you as long as you need them to.

If your ceiling is 8 ft. high, you'll need a narrower moulding. 5 inches works well. For 9 or 10 ft. ceilings, you'll want a wider moulding of about 7 or 8 inches.

The average cost for the moulding AND installation should be about $5/ foot of 5 inch moulding, $6/ foot of 6 inch moulding, and so on. The price will depend on the contractor. Some are better than others and their price may or may not reflect that. Also, if you have a very small space, they may charge more per foot because of the expense to travel to your home in terms of time and labour. Make sure to do some research and if possible get references.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thanks for stopping by, Please come again!

Hi Everyone

I created this blog to help Buyers, Sellers, Renters, Landlords and Landladies get their fingers on the pulse of Toronto's vibrant real estate market. There will be regular posts about things that you may or may not have known about Contracts, Taxes, Market Trends, etc. Occasionally, there may be something posted randomly just because I felt like it.

Now here's a bit about me:

I was born in Toronto and have lived in Scarborough my enitre life. Usually, you'll find me jetting around in my Smartcar somewhere in East York, North York, Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Pickering, or Ajax. I drive a lot. Thank goodness for the Smartcar. Come and say "hi" if you see me.

For this reason, those are the areas that I specialize in although I will also take clients just about anywhere they are looking for a home or property.

I speak English (I hope that was obvious), Cantonese, and some Japanese (keigo is impossible, I idolize anyone who has mastered it). The 5 years of French and 4 years of Spanish have been for naught. The only thing I can say in those languages is "avec frommage" / "con queso". Not very impressive.

If there are any topics you want to have covered, feel free to email me at and I'll try to get some information to you as soon as I can.