MFR Newsletter – February 2017

This month Modern Family Realtor had the privilege to be the keynote speaker at the KPMG Diversity Conference.  We want to thank you for supporting a LGBTQ business and feel lucky to live and work in such a multicultural, diverse and accepting city.

It’s always good to be aware of the latest home and garden trends, especially if you’re looking for ways to make your home more appealing to buyers.  This month’s article highlights a few of the latest trends.

Thanks so much for checking out this month’s newsletter.  Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles, or real estate in general — it’d be great to hear from you!

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Keynote Speech at KPMG Diversity Conference 

The Modern Family Realtor team had the opportunity to speak to over 150 people at the KPMG head office.  It was an honour to be selected as a diversity leader and share our message of acceptance and love below.

The world is changing for the good and bad. Even with Trump in power it is even more important to stay united, not divided. We want Jasmine to grow up in a world that is inclusive of everyone no matter your gender, race, sexual orientation, religious belief and political affiliation. Love is love and we believe the world just needs more acceptance and less hate.

If I could leave you with one lesson it is that being who you are and accepting yourself first will make it easier for others to accept you.  Be with who you want to be with, do what you want to do and life will be your oyster.

If Trump has taught us anything it is that anybody, I mean ANYBODY can be president of the United States so what is stopping you from following your dreams and reaching for the sky!

Stay tuned for a video of the entire speech.

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The Toronto Real Estate Market Report

Toronto real estate market off to a strong start!

Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,188 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS® System in January 2017.

This result was up by 11.8 per cent compared to 4,640 sales reported in January 2016.  Annual rates of sales growth were higher for condominium apartments than for low-rise home types.

January 2017 picked up where 2016 left off: sales were up on a year-over-year basis while the number of new listings was down by double-digit annual rates for most major home types.

“Home ownership continues to be a great investment and remains very important to the majority of GTA households.  As we move through 2017, we expect the demand for ownership housing to remain strong, including demand from first-time buyers who, according to a recent Ipsos survey, could account for more than half of transactions this year.  However, many of these would-be buyers will have problems finding a home that meets their needs in a market with very little inventory,” said Cerqua.

The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark price was up by 21.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January.  Similarly, over the same period, the average selling price was up by 22.3 per cent to $770,745, with double-digit gains in the average prices for all major home types.

The National Home Show and Canada Blooms

Get inspired at North America’s largest home and garden event!

The annual National Home Show and Canada Blooms must mean that spring is right around the corner!

North America’s largest home and garden event is coming to downtown Toronto this March 10th – 19th at The Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place.2canadablooms

The National Home Show is a great place to visit if you’re looking for home improvement ideas.  Canada Blooms on the other hand offers inspiring and engaging fantasy feature gardens with some of the world’s top designers competing to win coveted awards for their unique creations.

Enjoy the co-location of two world class events — Canada Blooms, North America’s largest flower and garden festival and the National Home Show.  Hope to see you there!

Home Trends for 2017

The new year is a great time to update your living space!

It’s fun to follow the latest home and garden trends, especially if you’re hoping to make your home more attractive to buyers.  Here are a few of the latest trends to look out for:

  1. Shedquarters – A “shedquarter” is a private, backyard spot that can be used as an office, artist workspace or party area.
  2. Docking Stations – Small, pull down desks can be added almost anywhere as wireless technology enables us to shift away from traditional home offices.
  3. Vintage Vanities – Putting your bathroom sink on just about anything is huge this year!  Old dressers, filing cabinets and even tree trunks can be converted into unique vanities.
  4. Laundry Love – Homeowners are giving their laundry rooms some serious love with innovative storage solutions, bright lighting and even stylish wallpaper!
  5. Foodscaping – Instead of traditional vegetable patches, backyards are now being transformed into edible landscapes that include vegetables, berries, fruits and herbs.
  6. Smart Windows – Cutting edge window technology now allows our windows to be programmed according to the weather outside as well as the air quality inside.

Just like fashion, home trends can come and go so it’s important not to overcommit.  Hopefully these ideas have given you some inspiration as to what’s coming next, whether you’re thinking of selling or just simply looking to update your home.

Clean Up Your Digital Clutter

Get a jump on spring cleaning by clearing out your digital clutter.

_8s9nemczk0-oliur-rahmanPaper files are often the first items we purge during a spring clean but many times we neglect our digital files.  Kick off your spring clean this year with a deep, digital cleanse:

  1. Get a Pass – Use a password manager to encrypt one master password that can be used on all websites.
  2. Address Your Apps – Uninstall apps you no longer use to clear up space and keep your phone running smoothly.
  3. Manage Mail – Unsubscribe from emails you no longer read and delete old emails or organize them into folders.
  4. Clear Cache – Regularly clear your browser history, cache and cookies in order to create more storage and speed up your browser.
  5. Back it Up – Make sure all of your important files and photos are automatically backed up to the cloud to increase storage space.

This digital cleanse applies to your computer, smartphone and all your social media accounts.  While you’re at it, you should also review your privacy settings on apps and social media platforms to make sure you’re sharing information with the right audiences.

 

10 Tips For Buying a Condo in Toronto

Posted by Simone Garcia

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More people are buying condos in Toronto than ever before. And while acquiring a condo in the city can prove a valuable investment down the road, there are also pitfalls if you don’t make an informed decision on your building and unit. Keeping the following tips in mind will save you money, time, and the mental trauma of spending half your monthly pay cheque on unused maintenance fees.

Here are 10 tips for buying a condo in Toronto.

1. Know your location, and know it well
You probably already have a good idea of where you’d like to live. Still, before sealing the deal on anything, be sure to check out proximity to grocery stores, transit, schools, or any other relevant amenities. Some resources available to you in this capacity is this very site’s neighbourhood guide, theTDSB’s school finder, and the city of Toronto’s neighbourhood rankings.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask/pay for upgrades
If you’re shelling out mad cash for a pre-owned condo, do not hesitate to ask the former owners for upgrades before your move-in date. If you’re buying pre-constructed, it pays to invest in the right upgrades right off the bat. You’ll reap the rewards later. What should you do? Here are two lists of suggestions for Toronto condo upgrades.

3. Assess the building’s overall physical condition, inside and out
Some faults are easy to spot, while others pose more of a challenge. Hiring a home inspector is less common for condo units, but the investment is typically minimal ($100-200), and could prevent a lot of headaches down the line. Find a home inspector using this directory. Another option? Bring an experienced friend/relative/advisor.

4. Meet the building staff
This one is pretty much a given – if you like the people working there, chances are you’re going to like living there. Plus, if ever anything should go wrong with your unit, it pays to have the staff on your side. The same rule applies should you need to bend the rules: extra parking passes are a sweet, sweet gift.

5. Research the condo developer and corporation
You don’t want to put your faith in a developer with little experience building condos nor you certainly do you want to be buying into a place that’s loaded down by debt. Researching those who are behind the construction and management of your condo is crucial. Review the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s tip sheet for buying a condo, which covers the basic research you should do.

6. Make sure you won’t lose your view
What’s being built next door? If another sky-high condo is in the works and threatening to block your hard-earned view, you may want to steer clear. You might be able to check this just by touring the neighbourhood on foot, but you’ll want to also check the Toronto Development Applications website.

7. Evaluate the building’s current residents
Is your home to be comprised mostly of renters? Do the current residents seem loud, or, on the other hand, intolerable of noise? Your condo’s demographics are likely to have some impact on resale value – not to mention the happiness of your residence there. This can’t be internet research; you have to speak to staff and current residents to sketch the picture.

8. Ask your realtor to provide you with a detailed history of the place if it’s been previously owned, and to provide you with a future projection of the resale price
Condos.ca is a good resource for some of this information, but it’s a good idea to test the mettle of your real estate agent. Find out how much the unit sold for previously and try to determine how much money you can expect to make down the line. Market trends change, but it’s key to go through these exercises before buying.

9. Buy a parking space if you can
It might sound counter intuitive with condo dwellers increasingly giving up on car-focused lifestyles, but even if you don’t drive, if you’re buying a new condo, make sure to fork out for a parking space. When it comes time to sell, you’ll thank yourself for it.

10. Beware of occupancy fees
There’s always a period of time between when you take occupancy of your condo and the building becomes officially registered in Ontario, during which you must pay occupancy fees or what is sometimes called “phantom rent” (because it doesn’t go to your mortgage). This is unavoidable, but the period is generally shorter when dealing with 1) experienced developers and 2) the higher up your unit is (low floors move in sooner).

MFR Real Estate Update – January 2016

Home Budgeting Tips for 2016
With 2015 behind us some of you may be thinking on how to better budget for 2016.  As a former accountant with Deloitte and KPMG here are some budgeting tips to put more money in your bank and to potentially save for a down payment for your dream home!

Do you have a budget?  Less than half of Canadians actually use a budget to track spending and savings.  Is it worth your time?  As the individual responsible for the finances and paying the bills (every family typically has one) it was my job to make sure we were in the black and saving money each month and making appropriate investments based on our risk tolerance.

Why create a budget?  It can help you pay your bills on time, cover unexpected emergencies and better track your investments like buying a house or condo!  Here are 3 easy steps to create a personal budget.

1.  Add up your monthly income

  • Include your pay cheque, interest, dividends, rental or business income plus any other income you bring into your household.  Don’t forget if you share finances with a partner to include all their income as well!

2.  Budget your expenses and actual expenses

  • Create line items for all your expenses you incur monthly.  This may include rent, mortgage payments, maintenance fees, hydro, gas, phone, gym membership, transit, insurance, meals and entertainment etc…
  • Check your credit card statement and chequing account for a comprehensive list unless you like to pay in cash! (then keep all receipts).
  • I recommend budgeting your expenses on the 1st of each month and then calculate the actual on the last day of the month.  See where you went over and under budget each month and figure out why?

3.   Calculate your net income or loss

  • Now take all your income from step 1 and subtract it from all your expenses in step 2.  If you have a positive figure, congrats you are saving money this month!  If it is negative then you are in more debt and you should adjust your expense budget for next month.

A budget is a good exercise to do at least once a month.  It will help figure out if you can afford to buy a property and take on more debt.  It also shows if you are like most Canadians and spending more money than you earn!

2016 Tax Tip

  • Try to maximize your RRSP contributions by February 29, 2016 by utilizing your budget monthly savings or even use a line of credit or loan to claim your deduction for 2015.  The tax savings will be approximately 30% to 46% depending on your marginal tax rate ($20,000 will get you back $6,000 – $9,200 back in a refund).  You can then use your refund for a downpayment on a home, TFSA, savings account for a rainy day or to pay back debt like a mortgage, credit card or loan.

Winter Incentives

  • Winter is traditionally a slow season according to the Toronto Real Estate Board stats but it could also mean less competition and better value if you are looking for your dream home.
  • New clients who buy or sell with MFR this winter will receive a free all-inclusive trip down south or a $2,000 cash rebate.  Limited time offer.  Sign up extended to February 29, 2016.

As your real estate sales representative and former accountant I can assist you with any of your financial questions including creating a budget, RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan, TFSA and Income Taxes.  Please contact me at 416-705-2444 to book a free consultation or visit our website for more information and listings atwww.modernfamilyrealtor.ca.

From Your Modern Family Realtor Team – Paul, Ewan and Jasmine

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