Real estate

July 06, 2021

Condo fees: undisclosed costs can really add up

When it comes to condos, buyers need to balance getting in early — which sometimes means a better price — and plunking down a deposit on a building plagued by poor construction, shaky financing or hiddden fees.

Book It’s hard to think of any contract where the price on the front page is not the full purchase price, where additional charges are unlimited, and where the seller has no legal obligation to make full disclosure of extra charges to the buyer at the time of sale, says Toronto real estate lawyer Bob Aaron.

When he added up all the extra charges buried in the disclosure statement but not even hinted at in his client’s purchase agreement, the total came to just shy of a staggering $70,000, he reports on the Move Smartly blog.

For instance, it’s become common practice in Toronto and other major cities for some developers to require condominium purchasers in each building to contribute to the costs of guest suites, superintendent’s units, carwash bays, car share units and similar amenities.

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March 09, 2022

Does buying a former grow-op make any sense?

“My parents are purchasing a house and they got it for a great deal. The only thing is, it used to be an ex-grow op house,” writes a concerned poster called KAOS.  

Grow Should he be worried? Oh, I think so.

Even if its provenance has been disclosed, quickie repairs made to cover up damage that occurred in the marijuana-growing process could still easily leave the home unsafe. And, in many cases, you may not even know what happened.

“Maybe the growers moved on before they were busted, so there’s no police record of the address. Maybe they were grow-ops before the law required the seller to disclose,” advises Mike Holmes, Canada’s second most trusted man — trailing only David Suzuki in a 2010 survey by Reader’s Digest — and a guru on fixing places that others have ruined.

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February 03, 2022

Homeowners band together to fight increased property taxes

While New Westminster, B.C.'s residential property assessments went up by more than 9 per cent overall, some homeowners have been hit with a much higher increase.

James Crosty, a local citizen advocate, saw the assessed value of his condo increase by a whopping 52 per cent, prompting him to reach out to neighbours and band together to appeal their assessments.
You might want to do the same.

Keep in mind that it's one thing to explode over an unexpected jump in your bill and quite another to crawl through the labyrinth of assessment procedures -- most of which vary sharply among provinces, and even from city to city.

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December 28, 2021

Is real estate actually just like sex?

"What do college students talk about with their roommates?''

House Sex, according to author Marjorie Garber.

Twenty years later, what’s the main topic of conversation with their friends and associates?

You got it: Real estate — and with the same gleam in the eyes, she declares in her book Sex and Real Estate.

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October 12, 2021

Hiring a pro to primp your house

With the housing market tightening up, everyone is looking for a way to help entice potential buyers. And they're willing to spend some money to do it.

How much? Well, 54% cent of Canadians think that $2,000 or more is the appropriate amount to spend in preparing a house for sale, while a surprising 25% are willing to pay over $5,000, suggests research by Royal LePage Real Estate Services.

While not everyone can afford Debbie Travis, more and more sellers are enlisting some professional help. Enter the stagers.

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July 27, 2021

Why rent when you can buy?

Although it varies widely from city to city, the upfront cost of buying a home is only a little more than renting in some areas of the country.

Which means, with interest rates still relatively low, this might be the time to seriously evaluate the decision of whether to rent or own, say realtors.

Let's say you’re renting now for $1,300 per month. Assuming a mortgage rate of $5.25%, $1,300 will be equivalent to a monthly payment on a mortgage of $218,000, based on a 25-year amortization.

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July 02, 2021

Duped, woman now on the hook for mortgage fraud

A Toronto woman is on the hook for $95,000 after failing to realize she was being tricked into a mortgage fraud.

Angela Isaacs accepted $6,000 to co-sign a stranger's mortgage and signed the documents without actually reading them, according to the Toronto Star. The house was then flipped and she was stuck with the bill.

What’s worse, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that she owes 6.3 per cent annual interest on the $95,000 loss going back two years, as well as $13,500 in legal fees incurred by the lender, the Royal Bank of Canada.

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June 03, 2021

The high costs of building green

Have you survived the green renovation project from hell? Still up to your eyeballs in BluWood and geo-thermal units? Government grants dried up during construction?

If your eco-friendly reno has weathered a number of mistakes, budget blow-outs or shoddy construction, you’re certainly not alone. Most renovation projects come with a surprise of some kind but giving your home a green feel can come at a high cost – financially and emotionally.

The green building industry is moving so fast, with technology and products being introduced and improved all the time. That's why it's really hard for homeowners – and even for contractors – to keep up, says Mike Holmes, Canada's white knight of home renovation.

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May 20, 2021

Hybrid mortgages catching on with homebuyers

It's the question Canadian homeowners continue to obsess over: Should I stay fixed or go variable?

Historically, borrowers have saved money by choosing a variable mortgage. But a pending upswing in interest rates, which can only move higher as the economic recovery takes hold, has some consumers looking to lock in at still low fixed rates.

Then why not do both by taking out a hybrid mortgage

Hybrids – sometimes known as 50/50 mortgages – include a mix of fixed-rate and variable-rate elements within a single mortgage. You get the best of both worlds, argue supporters: the security of fixed repayments with the flexibility of a variable rate. 

A good way to go? Well, some people seem to think so. 

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April 12, 2021

Price war among realtors starts to heat up

Are we seeing a price war among the country's realtors?

Now that Canadian Real Estate Association says realtors can post listings on the MLS without handling the entire subsequent sale of the house, some in-your-face agents are jumping in with significantly lower fees.

One such maverick is Ontario-based Joe William, who claims his approach of placing listings for just $109, has made him “the most hated realtor in Ottawa.”

The cheap listing, which leaves the seller to take care of everything else, flouts rules put in place by CREA that, until recently, had discouraged the practice of discounting in this way. 

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...