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Posts tagged " First Time Buyer "

New listing: bungalow on Valia Rd **SOLD**

July 7th, 2014 Posted by First-time buyers, SOLD!! No Comment yet

This bungalow is perfect for the first time buyer! Recently renovated (pictures coming soon!), it features 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2 kitchens. Improvements include a new upstairs kitchen (granite counters, porcelain tile, brand new stainless steel appliances) and bathroom (new tile and vanity), re-finished hardwood floors and a renovated basement kitchen. The house is freshly painted with new trim throughout.

Set on one of the larger lots in the neighbourhood (56x127ft), the property features a huge back yard and a private drive for up to five vehicles. The back deck has a new railing and is freshly stained.

The local schools are William P Miller PS (K-8) and Sir Oliver Mowat CI. Close to shopping, parks and the TTC! There’s no ‘hold-back’ on offers, so if you want to see this one call me today!

 

 

The King Edward Private Residences – bright 1+1 corner unit! **SOLD**

March 6th, 2014 Posted by Buying opportunity, Condos, For Lease, Hot Listings No Comment yet

The King Edward Hotel is a world famous Toronto landmark. Just three floors of this iconic building have been converted to condos; the rest continue as one of the city’s classic hotels. This relatively small conversion will bring new meaning to the idea of an ‘exclusive’ condo location in Toronto.

Just as you would expect, the finishes inside the condo conversion are fantastic, and the layout is well thought out. One of just a few units with a discrete den, it’s also at the south-east corner of the building, which allows for five windows, making the space extra bright and creating a sense of open airiness.

Downstairs is the opulent lobby, offering elegant common areas, luxury services, and fine dining. Step outside to King St East, and you are right in the heart of the financial district. From here you’ll be able to walk to almost anything – work, restaurants, entertainment, you name it!

While there are a few units on the market now (typical for recently incorporated condominiums), I expect that this building will soon become one of the most sought-after spots in the city. There are fewer than 150 private residences in the building; once the initial turn-over is complete, they will be hard to come by. If you are looking for a condo option that could offer you a bit of long-term peace of mind, you owe it to yourself to take a look at The King Edward Private Residences.

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Bully offers

February 5th, 2014 Posted by Commentary, First-time buyers No Comment yet

Before I started blogging I used to send out an e-newsletter to my clients. Way back in January, 2008, I wrote a piece about bully offers. At the time, they were a relatively new phenomenon. In the years since, the practice has surged and waned, never going away completely, but not always playing a prominent role in the market place. Over the last few weeks we have seen a handful of big plays, resulting in some eye-popping numbers. It’s hard to say how much influence they have on the overall monthly numbers, but it is fair to say that the bully offer is something to consider/watch out for – depending upon your perspective. Anyway, here (below) is what I wrote back then:

As some of you have experienced recently, there is a relatively new phenomenon occurring in the Toronto real estate market: the Bully Offer. By now, most market watchers are familiar with the typical marketing cycle for homes listed for sale. The listing is posted this week, an open house is scheduled for the weekend, and offers will be reviewed next week. In the hectic Toronto market it has become important to make sure that we do sufficient marketing of a listing to ensure as good exposure as possible; we don’t want a listing being scooped up in one day. That leaves everybody wondering if the listing could have sold for more money – and maximizing the proceeds from a sale is the listing real estate agent’s duty to the Seller.

This procedure has basically become the de facto standard in recent years. However, a counter-strategy has emerged that can really make things difficult for everybody. A “bully offer” is one registered prior to the scheduled date – often several days early – to be presented ASAP. The Listing Agent is obliged to present the offer to the Sellers. The ball is then in the Sellers’ court: do they take the ‘bird in hand’, or wait for the scheduled date in the hopes of getting competition? To be attractive to the Seller, the bully offer is typically (almost always, in fact) for more money than the asking price, and often ‘firm’, meaning with no conditions attached. It’s a tough decision that can only be made by each Seller on a case-by-case basis.

What about other potential Buyers? The Listing Agent is obliged to inform only Buyer Agents who have registered an offer intended for the scheduled date. Since we usually don’t register until the scheduled day of offers, every other Buyer who has looked at the house may be left out. However, it seems most Listing Agents are taking the time to notify every other agent who has shown the property. (Also, I typically call the Listing Agent if my Buyers express any interest at all in a property; I ask to be kept up to date with changes or developments.) A bully offer puts tremendous pressure on the other Buyers, who may have been counting on more time to make their decision, arrange financing, etc. But, that’s the point of the bully offer – to ‘box out’ the competition.

How do you beat a bully offer? Firstly, be as ready as you can be to make a purchase: have your financing pre-approved and your deposit money readily accessible. Secondly, if you are interested in a property, consider a pre-home inspection. That costs money, and you might still get out-bid, but that will allow you to make a ‘firm’ offer, if necessary. Thirdly, try not to fall in love with any particular house! You may not get the house, and if you are emotionally committed to it you risk disappointment. (Remember: in any negotiation, you have to be ready to walk away if you don’t get what you want/need.) If you are ready and willing to make a competitive offer, you have just as good a chance against a bully offer as any other situation.

Being prepared to deal with bully offers is now part of the whole buying process. No matter what we encounter, I always recommend that my clients be flexible and co-operative in negotiations – even if the other side starts to get prickly. Staying cool and ‘professional’ helps get you through even the most difficult negotiations.

***

Toronto Real Estate – What’s going to happen in 2014?

January 13th, 2014 Posted by First-time buyers, Interest Rates, Market Commentary, Mortgage No Comment yet

Twenty-fourteen is shaping up to be another great year for the Toronto real estate market. As I have said many times before, Toronto is unlike other markets. It drives me nuts when people talk about the ‘Canadian real estate market’, as if trends in smaller cities and towns have anything to do with Toronto. Our economy is diverse and our population continues to grow, so there’s no mystery as to why residential real estate prices also keep growing. Of course it makes sense that the real estate market here is out-pacing many markets elsewhere in the country. How could it not?

Add to the picture this year the improving US and global economies. The jobs numbers that came out last week in Canada (net losses) and the US (weaker than expected growth) show that the ‘recovery’ is still, well, in recovery. However, there is a growing sense of inevitability that the US will finally show some upward momentum this year. Even Europe seems to have stumbled towards stability. As the American economy grows, so do Canadian exports, which will give a boost to our own mostly-stable, but slow-growing, economy. Once real growth kicks in we’ll be in for a few good years. (How many is anybody’s guess. This C.D. Howe report indicates that the pre-recession growth cycle was 16 years. We should be so lucky this time around!)

Another major factor this year is interest rates. I think that we are probably still on course for flat rates this year and into next. Even when rates do start to rise, they’ll most likely rise slowly, so as not to jolt the economy. We’ve got another few years of near-record low rates ahead of us. (My first mortgage, in 2001, was for 8.9% – more than double current rates – which was considered a great deal in those days. Perspective is important!)

The supply shortage that has been a feature of the Toronto market since late 2008/early 2009 has yet to ease. As a full-time, professional Realtor I spend a lot of time talking to other agents. As we start 2014 there is a continuing urgency among my colleagues to find homes for our buyer clients. The view ‘on the ground’ is that tight supply will continue to drive prices up, particularly for single family homes and small income properties. I believe that it’s safe to expect a 5-7% year-over-year increase in 2014.

On that latter note, specifically, I continue to encourage my clients, especially first-time buyers, to consider an income property. In the short term, the income will help you afford not only the purchase (assuming you live there, which is an important factor), but a decent lifestyle. If kids are in the plan, or even if you just want more privacy down the road, you can keep the income property and use the equity to move on at some point. Not surprisingly, though, duplexes and triplexes are in high demand/low supply. It’s not a slam dunk, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.

Mortgage rate tip: one of the big bank mortgage pros that we work with told a group of Realtors last week that he expects a mortgage rate ‘sale’ some time in February or March. It has happened in each of the last few years, so he thinks it will happen again. Watch for it, and if you are in the market, try to nail down an interest rate deal before the busy spring market. 

5 More Buyer Tips

January 10th, 2014 Posted by First-time buyers No Comment yet

The ‘First 5‘ buyer tips I posted previously are just to get a buyer started. There’s lots more to it. Here are five more topics to consider.

6) Hire a home inspector. Please, hire a home inspector. They don’t have X-ray vision, and they are not clairvoyant, but they will poke around a house and look for problems – and potential problems. Even the best house will have a few bumps and bruises. Knowing what they are will help you prepare to deal with them. Also, most inspectors are fountains of knowledge about home systems (furnace, A/C, plumbing, roofs, etc.), so they’ll give you a tutorial about your prospective new house.

7) Know the neighbourhood. If it’s new to you, spend some time there (walking, shopping, or just hanging out) and get to know it. Review comparable sales so that you can compare each house you see to recent activity. Stalk it (but not in a creepy way). Walk up and down the street; talk to local residents. Tell them that you are thinking of buying that house for sale and ask what they love about the neighbourhood. Ask if there are any concerns. You’ll have to beware goofy gossip, but the fact is that you can get great info just by chatting with the locals.

8) Map the route to work (or school, or wherever). Take note of transit options from the house of interest to where you need to go and, if you drive, your routes (and escape routes) both to work and out of town.

9) Get focused. It’s normal to start out with a few target neighbourhoods. But, over time, as you see more houses and spend more time on your search, do your best to narrow your search to (ideally) the one area where you are sure you want to be. Of course, you may pick one area, look there for a while, then feel the need to move on – for example if prices move out of your budget. If that happens just take a step back, re-evaluate and refocus on another neighbourhood. 

10) Stick to your budget. This is obviously important, but especially so these days. There seems to be another wave of ‘light’ appraisals sweeping the city. It’s not that buyers are ‘over-paying’; that’s an exceedingly rare thing in Toronto. The issue is skittish (and sometimes out-of-area) appraisers… no offense to any appraisers out there. They have a job to do, and that’s to help the lenders manage their risk. I think that the market sometimes  just moves faster than their comfort level. As a buyer, you don’t want to find out at the last minute that your lender thinks that house is actually worth $25,000 less than you agreed to pay. In that case, you’ll have to somehow come up with that $25,000, and that’s easier said than done. So, be careful. 🙂

There’s always more, but these ‘next five’ basic principles will help you with your new home search. Keep reading my blog for market info and more tips. Also, check out my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter – and please do call me if you want more help!

 

 

September 2013 Market Review

October 3rd, 2013 Posted by Market Review No Comment yet

Today TREB released the sales statistics for SeptemberAs I noted recently, sales activity has been up significantly this year, and September continued that trend: sales volume was up 30% over September, 2012. At the same time, the number of both new and active (total) listings were down. That led inevitably to higher prices, which climbed 6.5% year-over-year. 

Interestingly, while the number of active listings in September (20,194) was higher than August (18,788), the number of sales was lower (7,411 sales in September after 7,569 in August). So, the seasonal increase in listings has begun, but not to the satisfaction of buyers. As I’ve said for years now, buyers make the best decisions for their circumstances (budget, location, etc.), and won’t over-pay for a property that doesn’t offer them the value they are looking for. Buyers are still ‘picky’ – and rightly so. The message to sellers? Properly prepare your property for sale (declutter, clean, complete minor repairs, paint, etc.), and price to market! Don’t just assume that because it’s a ‘hot’ market you’ll get your price.

As has been widely discussed, an important factor driving the real estate market is super low interest rates. We’ve known for some time that rates would stay low through 2014, and perhaps beyond. According to this article, one major Canadian bank expects low rates all the way to 2016. That’s good for home owners, investors, renovators, etc.

Overall, the key point is that there is still lots of pent up demand this year- just as there has been since the recession ended – and low interest rates to help keep prices affordable. October will be another strong month for sales and price appreciation. In fact, we could see the ‘fall market’ steam on through November – especially if the weather holds up. All in all, whether you want to buy or sell (or both), this fall is going to be a great time to do that. Call me now and let’s get started!

3 bedroom Leslieville semi – SOLD!!

September 17th, 2013 Posted by EHAS, Leslieville, SOLD!! No Comment yet

Leslieville is well-known for its solidly built, red brick semis. This house is a fine example of that type. Set just north of Gerrard St E, one block east of Jones, this is a great three-bedroom, two-bathroom starter home that has been extensively renovated and restored over the past few years. Improvements include:

  • new hardwood on the main floor (2013)
  • new landscaping (2013)
  • finished basement (rec room, laundry room and 3-piece bathroom, 2013)
  • renovated kitchen (2012)
  • renovated upstairs bathroom (2012)
  • upgraded wiring (2012)
  • new back decking (2012)
  • roof (2011 – flat and peaked portion)
  • newer furnace and air conditioning (2006)

All of the important things have been done, making this a house that you can just move into and enjoy!

This northern part of Leslie St is tree-lined and quiet – great for families. Fantastic Greenwood Park is just a few blocks away, as is Queen St E. Just a block to the Gerrard St streetcar, it’s just one more block to the Jones 83 bus (Donlands Station). Local schools are Blake St Jr, Duke of Connaught Jr & Sr, Riverdale CI; St Joseph and St Patrick Catholic. Also walking distance to Equinox Holistic Alternative School (151 Hiawatha Rd). Altogether, this is a great, really walkable neighbourhood!

UPDATE: This great house sold in less than a week. Do you plan to sell your house this fall? Call me today and let’s put this great market to work for you!

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St George St: 1 bedroom condo **SOLD**

May 13th, 2013 Posted by Condos, First-time buyers, SOLD!! No Comment yet

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This great one-bedroom condo flat is located in The Annex, an area famous for its tree-lined streets and grand old mansions. Many were built in the unique ‘Annex style’ (a mix of Richardson Romanesque and Queen Anne Style), a fact not lost on the developers of Lennox Mews (E.J. Lennox being a famous architect credited with the origin of the style).

The product of a 1997 conversion project, 228 St George St is steeped in the history of the area, with features that reflect the era of its original construction. The exterior is characteristic red brick, the main foyer is rich with wainscoting, but the interior (of unit 5) is modern – while maintaining that classy feeling. East- and south-facing, unit 5 features lots of windows, wood floors and trim, a renovated kitchen and Ensuite laundry.

Located just a few blocks north of Bloor St, 228 St George is walking distance to U of T, Yorkville, museums, the arts, restaurants, pubs, shopping and public transit – perfect for students, first-time buyers and professionals who want to live in the heart of the city and enjoy the charm of old Toronto.

** SOLD **

Rosevear Ave: Three bedroom starter – SOLD!!

May 7th, 2013 Posted by Buying opportunity, First-time buyers, SOLD!! No Comment yet

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This three bedroom home is perfect for a first-time buyer. Located just off the Danforth between Main St and Victoria Park Ave, it has been steadily improved over the last few years. The home now features a new kitchen with stainless steel appliances, new hardwood on the main floor, brand new broadloom up the stairs and throughout the second floor, updated 2nd floor bath, and a main floor laundry room off the kitchen. (Full list of improvements available.)

The location offers quick access to shopping, public transit, local parks and schools (Secord ES, D.A. Morrison MS, East York CI, Danforth Collegiate and Tech. Catholic: St Brigid). The basement has both front and back separate entrances, and the front pad parking is legal. All together, this house is a tremendous value.

March 2013 Market Review: Once again, the condo market just refuses to collapse

April 10th, 2013 Posted by Market Review, Mortgage No Comment yet

It still amazes (and annoys) me that the MSM insists that the sky is about to fall on the Toronto condo market, despite the market’s stubborn refusal to cooperate. One of the major papers was on about it again recently, clearly oblivious to some key facts.

The facts, as reported by TREB, are that the Toronto condo market continues to show resilience. The average price for a condo in the 416 in March was $367,595, up from $352,614 in February 2013 and $361,800 in March 2012. Clearly, there has been some volatility, but my sense is that the volatility has been a reflection of sentiment – influenced by not only the MSM, but also the federal government and various entities (IMF, etc.) that have chimed in with their own predictions of doom and gloom. Add the apparent fact that nobody can talk about real estate without impugning the character of Realtors, and you end up with a suspicious market place.

I have written about condos recently, so I won’t go into that again.  I’m sticking to my guns that the condo market is an outlet for renters, investors, first-time buyers and down-sizers. Added up, those folks can probably handle the current inventory – especially if the market for single-family dwellings (i.e. houses) remains as tight as it has been for the last couple of years.

As for houses, the average price for a fully detached house in Toronto was up 2.8% to $846,828; semis where up 6.9% to $607,334; and townhouses were up 7.5% to $450,104. With condos edging up 2% to $367,595 we had a city-wide average of $519,879, an increase (across all types) of 3.8%.  Compared to the 1% made by the TSX over the last 12 months, that looks pretty good for the average homeowner!

By the way, tighter mortgage rules are having an impact on more than just first-time buyers, notably self-employed buyers. Even if you currently have a mortgage, do your due diligence before stepping back in to the market. If you are going to your bank branch, ask your rep to be absolutely sure (by making inquiries to HQ if necessary) that you still qualify under the new rules. You don’t want any nasty surprises on closing day.

Lastly, the ‘spring market’ is definitely picking up. If you want to make a move this season, be ready to act. Call me to get started!