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Key Points to Consider if you’re Looking to Buy in 2017

The calendar has flipped to 2017 and this is the year that you’ll finally stop renting and take that fateful step into home ownership. Now that the decision has been made, you want to ensure your search is prosperous and causes as little stress as possible.

Toronto’s Thriving Housing Market

Toronto is a thriving market that could see an uptick in the next year or two in terms of property value. This means more developments and more buyers in and around Toronto. The longer you wait, the harder it might be to step foot into the market. Waiting for the proverbial housing bubble to burst might not be the best strategy.

Extra Years of Saving for your Down Payment Should Pay off

New rules were implemented by the Federal Government in October 2016 and a lot of it boils down to lowering the risk on mortgage lenders and protecting borrowers. A lot of the potential issues can be negated if you enter the market with a 20% down payment. Doing so, means you won’t have to pay a premium on insurance and can receive better interest rates and term options. By paying more upfront, you could save a lot more down the road.

Put your Trust in the Right Hands

As you embark on this milestone event, be sure to work with professionals that you trust and are comfortable with. It starts with your real estate agent and extends to a mortgage broker or bank and lawyer.

Your real estate agent will provide recommendations but it should always come down to what is best for you. These relationships can make or break the process.

Inventory is an Important Factor when Starting your Search

Shopping for a home in the winter means less inventory, but it could also mean less competition. Searching in the warmer months means more options but a lot more shoppers and more bids to inflate a price. Granted, your search might extend over a few seasons but you might want to start in the winter and hope to find a motivated seller.

 

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Four Qualities to look for in a Real Estate Agent

Hiring a real estate agent is stressful. It can also be one of the most important professional relationships you will ever have. This is a person who has to guide you through a complicated process and can be a deciding factor as to whether or not you get your dream home at a good price.

There are four qualities that every homebuyer or seller should look for when searching for their ideal real estate agent.

Do they Conduct Themselves Openly and Honestly?

A real estate agent is your doorway to market information along with specific detail about any house or condo you might be considering. They need to advise you honestly and independent of any personal feelings. Just as important, they need to directly deliver bad news or tough advice when needed.

A Real Estate Agent Should be Actively Working for you

The real estate agent you choose to represent you should be active on several fronts: Finding listings that are relevant to your desires and budget, pointing out benefits and shortcomings without prompting and making sure you are aware of every contract clause, potential pitfall and resale value. They should be taking the reins and proactively making sure your needs are being met as you make the biggest purchase of your life.

The Best Real Estate Agents Should be Dedicated to the Job

Being a real estate agent is a tough job. You have to be constantly drumming up business, shepherding your clients all around on evenings and weekends and stay abreast of constantly changing markets and regulations. It takes dedication and a passion for the field in order to really excel, and it’s best to steer clear of hobbyist.

Knowledge can be the Difference Maker

Shifting markets, convoluted negotiations, neighbourhood trends and history, there’s so much a real estate agent has to know and there’s no substitute for knowledge. They need to know hard facts and remove all of the guesswork.

These are only four of the important qualities you want to look for in an agent. Add these to your personal preferences when it comes to personality and make sure you find the real estate agent that best fits whatever it is you’re looking for.

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The Truth About Closing Costs

Picture this…after a long and gruelling search, you finally find a home you love and are ready to move forward. You’ve cleaned out your savings and investments for your down payment and are waiting for your offer to be accepted. What is probably pushed to the backburner during this time is the cost it’ll take to actually close the deal. Without proper planning, closing costs can dip into your down payment and create extra stress during an already stressful time.  

No House can close without a Real Estate Lawyer

Once the offer is accepted and the champagne has been popped, lawyers will have to get involved and they come with a fee. The lawyers’ job is to review all legal documentation and status certificates along with handling disbursements between the parties including the exchange of keys and money. This fee is typically standard and needs to be worked into your costs when savings.

And then there’s Title Insurance and Home Inspection

No purchased residential or commercial real estate can close without title insurance. This provides coverage for the amount of the property’s mortgage and protects the lender from losses. There’s also the potential cost of a home inspection if you choose to go this route. In certain situations, a home inspection will be required.

Don’t Forget about the Land Transfer Tax

Whenever you buy a home you are subject to the land transfer tax, which is due upon closing. While there are breaks for first time homebuyers, everyone else will have to consider this cost when finalizing the amount of their down payment. In addition to the municipal land transfer tax, there is another for those buying in Toronto.

And then there’s Moving, Renovations and New Items

This might sound obvious but a lot of people fail to truly consider that on top of closing costs, you still have to pay for movers and any new furniture or appliances you might need. Remember, if the renovations aren’t urgent to the structure of the house or condo then it can be put aside for the short term. Moving, on the other hand, is something you might want to pay for as opposed to begging friends for help.

 

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The Pros and Cons of Preconstruction Projects

In and around Toronto, there have been lots of talk and publicity about the pros and cons of preconstruction projects. Some projects have completely failed with severe legal ramifications like that of Urbancorp, whereas others such as Pure Spirits in the Distillery District have turned into solid investments that were worth the wait.

Preconstruction could be an Affordable Path to Home Ownership

Preconstruction is a way to secure a home, typically with small price break in a desirable neighbourhood. You might also get a say in the design plans, offering you some customization options to increase the property’s resale value. Working with a reputable developer could also mitigate delays or provide a level of comfort that you’re in good hands.

Lower Down Payment allows you to Save for Longer

Usually, a series of smaller down payment is required to secure a preconstruction house or condo. This means you will have more time to save for the complete down payment, which tends to be either 20 or 25%. This is a huge benefit to many people and families who want to buy immediately but aren’t in a rush to move.

There are Few Guarantees with Preconstruction

This is probably the biggest issue with Preconstruction. Delays will happen, the project could get canned or there’s the chance that units will be different than you envisioned from the original promise. This was exemplified with buyers of Emerald City Condominiums who were promised an access tunnel to the subway, only to discover, after being handed the keys, that there was no such tunnel. There could also be small hiccups like the builder not selling enough units to proceed with construction.

Preconstruction has just as many cons as resale, so it’s up to each buyer to consider what appeals to them and what they can stomach. It’s best to understand how a developer like Urbancorp veered so wrongly, leaving hundreds without a home or their down payments, but to also review the potential benefits to see if they appeal to you.  

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Townhome Projects We’re Excited About

Every year, it seems Toronto is green-lighting more and more townhome projects, offering homebuyers living options outside of the plethora of condos or detached houses outside the city. The one caveat is that they are heavily sought after and the market for them heats up fast.

Here are a few upcoming townhome projects that we have our eye on:

35 Wabash

This townhome development located in Roncesvalles features appealing amenities like a gym and yoga studio as well as some units that come with backyards. Overall, it offers a nice respite from most downtown dwellings. There’s close to 60 units priced from $600,000 to $1.2 million.

The Hunt Club

Developed by Infinity Development Group and scheduled for completion in 2017, this townhome and condo hybrid range in price from $300,000 to roughly $1,000,000 and about $600/sq. ft.  High ceilings and a stylish design are sure to make this a coveted piece of Toronto real estate.

Dwell City Towns

This stacked townhome project just west of Core Toronto in Etobicoke seems perfect for families who want a little more space then what most condos tend to offer. Located close to the highway so that those working in the city could have an easy commute. Also, Dwell City Towns is close to valuable public green space and Sherway Gardens.

Deco Towns

A new townhome development in the popular and vibrant Dundas West neighbourhood sounds like a dream come true. Deco Towns has nine units each costing approximately $950,000 and includes a parking spot for every unit. This modern, beautiful development with stunning finishes is the latest addition to a culturally rich and historic part of Toronto.

There are several other townhome developments that will start construction in early 2017 that are worth watching. It might be the answer for families and young professionals who want more space and appealing amenities.

For those believing that condos are the only option for homebuyers in Toronto, than it’s time to get acquainted with all that townhomes can offer, and remember they tend to go really fast once they hit the market.

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The Best Artist Studios in Toronto

Toronto is a vibrant city that both develops and beckons artists from all parts of Canada. Painters, sculptors, writers, designers and musicians need specific spaces in order to live and create and many see Toronto as the hub that can meet the demand.

Artscape’s Solution to Balance Cost with Space

Toronto is a pricy city and most artists experience inconsistent income and sometimes long droughts similar to freelancers. This might make a fit seem unlikely but with organizations like Artscape, whose non-profit goal is to bring affordable space to established artists, the fit is becoming easier. These spaces can be shared, private or even work/live combo spaces that offer rent, own and sublet options in some of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods.

Triangle Lofts

One of Artscape’s more sought after work/live spaces can be found in the Triangle Lofts in the neighborhood of West Queen West. These lofts were built specifically for artists that fall under Artscape’s umbrella. They offer both rental and work/live options that can appease a range of artists with different incomes.

The Work Lofts

Developed by Lamb Development Corp. and located on Carlaw in Toronto’s bourgeoning east end, this soft loft offers various suite sizes ranging up to over 2000 sq. ft. along with amenities that most older lofts don’t. The price typically falls below average for the city.

Candy Factory Lofts

These stunning lofts, spanning an entire city block, might have set the stage for future lofts when it was converted in 2006. Spacious and welcoming, these lofts are eye catching, functional and offer artists the space they need to ply their skills and trade.

I-Zone Lofts

Toronto has developed an interesting habit of converting manufacturing space into charming lofts that appeal to artists. Situated in Leslieville, these lofts are more basic than some but allow for personal touches and come with high ceilings and a feeling of vastness.

If you’re an artist living in Toronto or just scoping out the scene, rest assured that you’ll have options to find the best space to get your creative juices flowing. The trick will be finding a space that is affordable, can grow with your career and also reflects the needs of other parts of your life.

Source: http://www.mrloft.ca/blog/live-work-lofts-toronto

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How to Stay on Budget This Holiday Season

Between family, big dinners and trying to buy the perfect gifts, the holidays are enough to drive anyone to new levels of stress. It’s even worse come January when you get hit with a huge credit card bill. Just as frustrating is the fact that your savings has stagnated while you met the demands of the holidays.

Create and Stick to a Budget

Budgeting might not the most pleasant part of the holidays (that’s reserved for shopping, eating and mistletoe), but it’s what can lead to a much happier January. Here’s a tip for keeping your spending under control:

  • Create a list of every person you want to buy a gift for
  • Come up with a total dollar amount you want to spend
  • Assign an amount to each person; making sure it equals your total amount

This will help you stay within budget per gift and make sure that no one gets left out.

Make Sure to Save in December 

Usually lost in the shuffle of the holidays is your savings account. It seems that it either stays the same or even lowers. Even if you have to contribute less, it’s still a great idea to put something away. This helps you keep your savings momentum and makes it easier to pay off any purchases when the time comes. Plus, it’s like a small gift to yourself and can alleviate some of the stress.

Get Creative when it comes to Gifts and Food!

So maybe a potluck and a Secret Santa won’t make you the most popular house on the block, but they are some options to keep costs down and savings up without sacrificing the fun of the holidays. Having others chip in by bringing side dishes and desserts can offset any dinner with a bloated guest list. Secret Santa is not only a cost efficient way to tackle the holidays but can also add some fun and mystery.

The holidays are all about spending time with the family and creating memories. Try your best to mitigate any stress by staying on budget and remembering that every little bit saved can make your goals for 2017 a reality.

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Are Amenities Important?

Condo ownership in Toronto is at an all time high. If you’re considering this then it’s important to narrow down what you want, and what you’re willing to pay for. With most condos, you might have to sacrifice certain things like space and a backyard but you can receive interesting perks in the form of amenities.

The Different Kind of Common Amenities

Amenities can come in many shapes and sizes but the most common are a parking spot, fitness centre, pool, concierge service, property maintenance, garbage pickup or even recreational activities (squash courts, yoga classes, etc.). Some of these are essential, whereas others might just be attractive.

Are Amenities Worth it?

Amenities for the most part are ingrained into condo living. Deciding which ones are personally important can help you weigh their value. If you’re a regular gym goer and have a car then it makes sense to have your own parking spot and an onsite gym. If you’re not much of a swimmer, then a pool isn’t something you should pay for.

Potential Resale Value

The right amenities can add value to your home and make it more attractive if you were to ever put it on the market. Not only can amenities raise the value but they can also grow or shrink your prospective pool of buyers. Some people need a party room or won’t even consider a place without a concierge who can sign for packages.

Consult your Budget

With anything regarding home ownership, the monthly cost of amenities needs to fall within your budget. You might want to buy the condo that offers 24-hour concierge service and a library but it might make more sense to choose the one that includes hydro or a parking spot, even if it’s only for your guests or for resale purposes.

Make the Right Choice for you

Everyone has a different idea of what amenities are important, so make a list before you start the search for your new home. Just remember, that you are paying for amenities and while the idea of some might be appealing, it’s really about what you will regularly use and enjoy.

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Breaking Down the New Rules for Home Buyers

Last month, the Federal Government made sweeping changes aimed at protecting lenders from defaulted mortgages. These new rules were also designed to protect homebuyers from over extending themselves when it came to mortgages. Now, homebuyers have to shift their approach in regards to what they can borrow and how they search, but by no means is it all doom and gloom.

The Stress Test

All mortgages will be required to pass a stress test. This means that the lender wants to make sure that you can afford your mortgage if, by chance, there’s a spike in the interest rate. The lender will apply your mortgage to an average of the six banks in Canada. If the amount still fits within your financial ability, than you’re good to go.

A 39% Ceiling for Household Income

The new rules also set a ceiling of 39% of household income being devoted to house related costs, such as, mortgage, property taxes, heat and hydro. The idea being that one must be able to financially manage a household, not just be able to afford a mortgage. As many Canadians find themselves stretched too thin every month, this might prove positive in the long run.

Homebuyers have to be Realistic

Between the stress test, insurance and the 39% provision, homebuyers are in a situation where they have to be more realistic when applying for a mortgage, and understand what they can receive in this current climate.

What this Means for Canadians

What this boils down to isn’t that Canadians will necessarily pay more, but that they will potentially be buying less in the form of a smaller home or a different neighborhood. With a touch of compromise, the dream of home ownership and its benefits should still be very much alive amongst Torontonians.

Want to learn more About the New Mortgage Rules?

There’s never been a better time to sit down with us and learn about Oppono’s common sense approach to lending and how the new rules can still get you your dream home. It’s important to not get discouraged but to maybe consider new options and reassess what’s important to you as a homeowner.

Sources: http://www.moneysense.ca/news/new-mortgage-rules-affect-first-time-buyers/

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Toronto is well known for its neverending supply of condos.

Not only do they take up the majority of the downtown core, but they are also popping up outside the city centre and in suburbs. As a first-time home buyer, there are so many styles and price points available that searching for that perfect home can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve compiled a short list of our favourite condo developments.

Favourite Townhomes: Cabin by Curated Properties

What do we love about it?

  • Its unique architecture blends modern lines with a comfy Muskoka cottage feel
  • Outdoor spaces include yards, rooftop gardens and terraces
  • It’s 45 Dovercourt Rd location offers the convenience of downtown living but the tranquility of a quiet neighbourhood.
  • It’s True North feel appeals to every proud Canadian

Prices start at $750k

Favourite Family-Friendly Condos: Howard Park 2 by Triumph Developments

What do we love about it?

  • The modern architecture creates livable spaces without the condo feel
  • With housing costs at an all-time high, Howard Park is part of the growing trend of family-friendly buildings that include 2 and 3 bedroom units, and green spaces
  • Located in the heart of Roncesvalles.
  • Using LEED standards of construction, Howard Park has many green features such as geothermal energy, low-water landscaping and green roofing.

Prices start at $375k

Favourite Low-Cost Condos: ION by Cityzen and Fernbrook

What do we love about it?

  • Ideal for first-time home buyers looking to enter the housing market
  • Modern finishes and cool amenities such as yoga room and theatre
  • Located at Keele and Wilson, close to Yorkdale mall, parks, and grocery stores.

Prices start at $240k

With so many options available in every Toronto neighbourhood, you certainly aren’t short on choice, so do your homework and decide which condo best suits your lifestyle and budget. Interested in applying for a mortgage loan? Contact us to start your easy condo mortgage application today.