Market News


TORONTO, October 3, 2014 – Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced that
there were 8,051 transactions reported through the TorontoMLS system in September 2014. This result
represented a 10.9 per cent increase compared to September 2013. On a year-to-date basis through the
first three quarters of the year, sales were up by 6.9 per cent annually to 73,465.
“Despite a persistent shortage of listings in some market segments, we have experienced strong growth
in sales though the first nine months of 2014. This is evidence that GTA households remain upbeat about
purchasing a home. The majority of home buyers purchase a home using a mortgage. The share of the
average household’s income dedicated to their mortgage payment remains affordable, which is why buyer
interest has remained solid,” said Mr. Etherington.
The average selling price for September 2014 transactions was $573,676 – up by 7.7 per cent compared
to the same period in 2013. Average year-over-year price growth was strongest in the City of Toronto,
both for low-rise home types like detached and semi-detached houses and for condominium apartments.
The average selling price year-to-date was $563,813 – up 8.5 per cent compared to the first nine months
of 2013.
“If the current pace of sales growth remains in place, we could be flirting with a new record for residential
sales reported by TREB Members this year. On the pricing front, the multitude of willing buyers in the
marketplace coupled with the short supply of listings will continue to translate into very strong annual
rates of price growth in the fourth quarter,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis

Selling a condo? Beware the taxman

When you sell a property that isn’t your principal residence and make a profit, half of the amount is taxable. This is the so-called capital gains tax and it’s pretty straight forward, but every situation is different. It all depends on how the Canada Revenue Agency views the transaction.

Real estate agent Romano Giusti bought a condo on Richards St. in Vancouver in November 2006 and re-sold it in June 2007 for a profit of $30,831. When he filed his tax return, he paid no tax on the profit, saying it was his personal residence.

The CRA re-assessed this return and discovered that Giusti had bought and sold seven condos in seven years. He argued that he intended to make the Richards St. condo his personal residence, but changed his mind because of the street noise, irresponsible renters and pets in the building. So, he moved.

Related:No breaks for offshore condo investors from the taxman

Giusti appealed and lost. In a case heard on January 25, 2011, Judge G.A. Sheridan found that Giusti was flipping houses and so was not entitled to the principal residence exception. He also penalized Giusti.

For most people, if you make a $30,000 profit, you only would pay tax on $15,000. In this case, the court found that because Romano was in the business of buying and selling homes, he had to pay tax on the entire profit.

Here are some things the court and CRA will look at in deciding whether a profit is a capital gain or income:

1.The nature of the property sold;

2.The length of the period of ownership of the property;

3.The frequency or number of other similar transactions by the taxpayer;

4.Any work done to make the property more marketable or to attract purchasers;

5.The taxpayer’s motive or intention at the time he acquired the property.

The fact that Romano was also a real estate agent did not help him, since most of his business income related to commissions on real estate contacts.

The key factor in most court cases is the number of deals that you have done over the last few years. If there are not many deals, it is likely that it will be called a capital gain so half will be tax free. Still, if you are not sure, it is better to obtain tax or legal advice before you sell any property, to make sure that you

More on tax:Why wealth tax may not be a good idea

By: Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer.

Toronto’s most underrated neighbourhoods



Toronto's Most Underrated Neighbourhoods



Wed Mar 14, 2012
Real Estate

Toronto’s most underrated neighbourhoods

A realist’s guide to real estate

Once upon a time in Toronto, if you were searching for a place to live, you just looked at the neighbourhood that suited your lifestyle. And if the area you liked had become popular—and therefore a little too pricey—you just wandered a few blocks away and found a similar pocket of the city the big wallets hadn’t discovered yet.

But the combination of Toronto’s constant population growth and a sustained real-estate boom over the past decade and a half means you’ll wear out a lot of shoe leather now trying to find a deal. The map of neighbourhoods semi-officially recognized as gentrified or up-and-coming now stretches the length of all the subway lines, and covers virtually every square metre south of St. Clair from the Beach to Jane Street. It’s enough to make some people who want a decent, affordable house take a long look at Hamilton, Milton or Peterborough.

Just how pricey have some of Toronto’s most sought-after neighbourhoods become over the last 16 years? This pricey.

However, there are still places where you can find a relative bargain—neighbourhoods that go unmentioned in the trend stories but currently offer a quality of life and amenities similar to what you’d find in more celebrated (and punishingly expensive) quarters of the city. We ventured away from the subway lines to find the qualities we’ve come to love about the places we can’t afford. These five ’hoods don’t have everything their more famous doppelgängers do—there’s a reason those places are so pricey—but if you don’t care about snob appeal and you’re willing to watch patiently as a community evolves, you can find some of the more beloved elements of your dream neighbourhood under the radar and within your budget.


Click on the links below to take a tour of each underrated neighourhood


1If you’re priced out of The Beach, take a look at… NEW TORONTO


2. If you’re priced out of Leaside, take a look at…TODMORDEN VILLAGE



3. If you’re priced out of The Kingsway, take a look at…WEST HILL



4. If you’re priced out of Moore Park, take a look at…CLIFFSIDE



5. If you’re priced out of The Junction, take a look at…WESTON VILLAGE


All information sourced from:

20 Most Bizarre Houses around the world

Take a look at some of the most bizarre houses around the word:

Cool Wall Design

Wall Design

If you’re looking for ideas to spruce up your place a cool wall design, then checkout this site and their products I discovered at the Toronto National Home Show.

Energy Audit

Energy Audit: Where exactly to invest and ramp up your home’s efficiency

  Feb 23, 2012 – 10:21 AM ET

Thinkstock/Getty Images

Thinkstock/Getty Images

We are buying more Energy Star devices, like televisions and computers, but a recent study found that while Americans believed they were using less power than they were five years earlier, consumption has actually grown 10% in the last decade.

By Patrick Langston

Building envelope
People want a “one-size-fits-all solution and that doesn’t exist,” says Christopher Straka, principal with Ottawa’s Vert Design, a residential and commercial planning, design and development firm. Straka’s company designed Canada’s first certified passive home, which uses about one-tenth the energy for heating and cooling that a conventional Canadian house does.

Every home has its own energy strengths and weaknesses, he explains, based on age, construction and other factors. Only an energy audit can pinpoint your individual energy issues.

Mr. Straka says that unless you’re building a custom home and can orient it for free heating from solar gain, your best bet is still tightening up the building’s envelope: caulking and weatherstripping to reduce leakage, adding insulation, and better windows and doors.

Plugging air leaks and topping up insulation can save over $400 a year, according to energy provider Direct Energy. Upgrading insulation in a 1,200-square-foot attic costs about $1,200.


For insulation, anything less than R12 in the walls and basement, R20 for exposed floors and cathedral ceilings and R40 in the attic calls for upgrading, says Ross Elliott of Ottawa’s Homesol Building Solutions and a veteran home energy auditor and energy designer. “Going from R10 to R20 gives you the biggest boost: it’s the first few inches that are most important.” After that, the law of diminishing returns sets in.

Adding rigid Styrofoam to the outside walls can bridge thermal gaps, which are heat leaks where the fibreglass insulation is interrupted by studs, although you may need to remove the exterior cladding to do so.

If you are replacing windows, opt for triple-glazed with low-E coatings and argon between the panes, Mr. Elliott says. They cost between 20% and 30% more but greater comfort and resale value are among the benefits.

Monster in the basement
After the building envelope comes mechanical systems.

A high-efficiency furnace costs $3,000 to $6,000 installed, but can shave more than $500 a year on heating bills if your current furnace is more than 20 years old, according to Direct Energy.

Natural Resources Canada’s Home Heating System Cost Calculator ( lets you compare your existing system to other heating systems and fuel sources.

An aging air conditioning system can also suck up energy dollars.

Switching from a standard hot water system to a tankless (on-demand) type can slash $150 or more from annual costs for a family of four. It costs about $3,000 installed.

Mr. Elliott suggests checking out condensing hot water heaters, which capture heat from burned gases for reuse, achieving more than 90% efficiency in the process.

He also ranks a heat recovery ventilator or other ventilation system as an essential investment for humidity control and healthy indoor air.

Despite the range of upgrade possibilities, “the answers aren’t that complicated,” Mr. Straka says.

“It’s a matter of looking at three or four different options and then reshuffling your deck of cards till you get what you want.”

Coincidentally, a recent study by the United States’ Shelton Group, a U.S.-based advertising agency specializing in green products and services, found the average homeowner needs to make about four improvements in energy efficiency for bills to drop.

If you are planning to retrofit your home or are considering buying a resale home, NR-Can and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. have produced fact sheets that include recommended upgrades for 11 housing types in five regions of Canada:—001.cfm.

Other useful publications
Planning Energy Efficiency Renovations for Your Home ( covers products, hiring contractors and the like.
Keeping the Heat In ( includes advice on how to retrofit.

Emerging technologies
The National Research Council and NRCan are studying a raft of new energy-efficiency products including ultra-efficient Vacuum Insulated Panels (VIPs) with R values about five times that of conventional insulation.

Other items on the test bench include mini-split heat pumps for heating and cooling. Unlike standard air-source heat pumps, which are only effective to about – 5 C, these will produce heat at – 20 C or colder.

NRCan and CMHC also recommend old-school technology such as awnings and roll shutters for south- and west-facing windows as an effective way to cut cooling costs.

And, as we all know, turning down the thermostat in the winter and turning it up during air conditioning season can save a bundle.

Energy-gobbling gizmos

hinkstock/Getty ImagesThe culprits? Everything from energy-gobbling appliances, like old beer fridges, to our bottomless appetite for more electronic devices in our homes. Many of those devices also have “always-on” features like clocks and instant-on capability that suck up power 24/7, accounting for five to 10 per cent of the power consumed in a typical Canadian home, according to NRCan.

Among the biggest energy wasters are charging stations for cellphones and the like, says Hydro Ottawa spokeswoman Linda Bruce. “People plug them in and go to bed, but they keep drawing power all night.” Since it only takes three or four hours to charge a device, she suggests using a timed power bar ($24.99 at Canadian Tire) to cut power to the charging station entirely.

For more energy saving ideas, visit Ontario Power Authority’s site at

Also, check out NRCan’s online calculator for energy consumption by appliances (

Using Hydro Ottawa’s current electricity rates, the calculator shows, for example, a saving of more than $700 over 14 years by switching from a mid-to a high-efficiency clothes washer and using it during off-peak hours (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.).

Even with the higher cost of an ultra-efficient appliance, rising electricity rates will mean increased savings. You’ll also use less water.

How to save
Yes, little things do add up to big things when it comes to energy conservation. Here are some little energy-saving tips.

• Electronic devices continue to consume “phantom” or standby power even when not being used, adding 5% to 10% to your energy bill. Culprits include televisions and home theatre systems, computers (including monitors and printers), cellphone and other chargers and game consoles.

Solution: Plug the devices into power bars so you can cut the electricity supply when it’s not needed.

• Set-top boxes that bring cable and other services to your television are among the worst phantom power hogs. Depending on the number and configuration, they can consume more power than a central air conditioning system, according to a detailed New York Times article.

They often can’t be unplugged because they take forever to reboot. Look for Energy Star models with the lowest phantom power consumption and minimize the number you own.

• When using a dishwasher, Ontario Power Authority suggests air drying your dishes, using the air-dry setting (or energy saver) option, or just leaving the door open. Visit for more tips.

• Think twice before you buy a digital picture frame, or at least either unplug it when no one’s home or put it on a power bar with a timer.

The Electric Power Research Institute, a non-profit research group, estimates that if every household in America ran one digital picture frame around the clock, five additional power plants would be needed to operate them.

• Air conditioners are among a home’s biggest energy hogs and units from the 1970s can use up to 50% more power than today’s models, according to the United States Department of Energy. Even 10-year-old systems can be 20% to 40% less efficient than new models. Look for Energy Star-certified units. As well, shade the condenser from the sun and keep it free from leaves and other debris to achieve maximum efficiency.

• Cut heating costs up to 5% by changing furnace filters every one to three months.

You know that old beer fridge may be wasting up to $125 a year in electricity. You also know that Ontario Power Authority will haul it away for free. But did you realize that dirty coils on the back or
bottom of your fridge or freezer make it work harder? Vacuum them every couple of months, more often if you have a pet that sheds hair.

Check the seal on your refrigerator or freezer. Close the door on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out easily, replace the gasket.

• To maximize the life of CFL bulbs, leave them on at least 15 minutes, but then turn them off when you leave the room.

Contrary to what you may have heard, re-energizing bulbs uses minimal electricity.

For a guide to buying CFL bulbs, which is as complicated as choosing wine, see saveonenergy/tips-andtools/lighting.

• Going on vacation? Consider un-plugging your refrigerator and using timers on your indoor lights.

Posted in: Homes  Tags:

All information from:

How home closing costs can add up

February 21, 2012 By Robb Engen 9 Comment(s)

When housing prices fall it is often because other things are happening in the economy. Closing costs can add up to several thousand dollars to a home purchase.


Home buyers are often advised to set aside one-to-three per cent of the purchase price of their house for closing costs.  These fees are explained during the home buying process, but it is helpful to ask questions so you fully understand how these costs can affect  your budget.

Legal fees: On average you should budget $600 to $900 for legal fees and an additional $200 to $400 for disbursements, which includes registering the mortgage, completing a tax certificate, and doing a title search on the property.  On top of that you may pay administrative fees for postage, faxing and photocopying.

Shop around. Some law offices specialize in handling mortgage disbursements and offer cheaper rates.  Ask your bank or mortgage broker which law firm they recommend and then call at least 3 other lawyers for quotes.  A few phone calls can save you hundreds of dollars.  I paid $810 for legal fees and disbursements – the next best quote was over $1,000.

Related: Never buy a house without a home inspection

Property tax adjustment: If you buy an existing home, the previous owners have paidproperty taxes to the City.  On closing, you will be required to reimburse them for the taxes they have prepaid for the year.

For example if the previous owners paid $2,000 in property taxes for the year and you took possession of their home on June 30, you will be required to pay the owner half the pre-paid taxes, or $1,000.

Interest adjustment Date: Depending on the date chosen by your lender as the interest adjustment (the date the mortgage starts) you may be required to pay interest from the closing date until your interest adjustment date.  The maximum amount would be one month’s interest at the rate of your mortgage.

For example, our mortgage was advanced when we took possession of our home on August 15.  We owed an interest-only payment from the advance date until September 1, which was our interest adjustment date.  Our first full mortgage payment came out on October 1.

While it may sound like you get some reprieve by skipping a monthly mortgage payment, most people want to start eliminating this debt as quickly as possible.

Hidden costs can make it difficult to stick to a budget, especially for a first time home buyer.  Be sure to ask your lender in advance for a detailed description of all your closing costs so they are factored into your overall budget.


Information from:–how-home-closing-costs-can-add-up


CMHC predicts stable Canadian housing market

CMHC predicts little change in Canadian housing market in 2012 and 2013

By The Canadian Press  | February 13, 2012

OTTAWA – Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is predicting the Canadian housing market will remain fairly stable this year and next, with little change from 2011 in prices, new home construction and sales of existing homes.

The national housing agency says that’s because the economy appears set to expand at only a moderate pace over the next two years and mortgage rates will remain low.

The CMHC says it expects the average house price in Canada to hit $368,900 for 2012 and $379,000 for 2013.

Housing starts are expected to be around 190,000 units this year and 193,800 units in 2013, while existing home sales are expected at about 457,300 units in 2012 and moving a little higher to 468,200 units in 2013.

Low mortgage rates and high demand have driven housing prices sharply higher in large urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver, leading many experts to warn that a housing bubble could burst when rates finally do rise.

Despite those warnings and alarms from top government officials that Canadians are taking on too much debt overall, the housing market has seen little change over the past few years, with price growth slowing but not retreating in most areas.

Condo Trends

Condo Trends

By Marissa Ponikowski

When it comes to condos, staying on the cutting edge of style and decor is key. The general perception of what’s hot and what’s not can change daily, so choosing trendy yet timeless decorating styles and furniture pieces is the true challenge for the condo dweller. Always keep resale value in mind when you paint or make upgrades. Chances are, you won’t live in this condo forever and when you do sell, you want the place to be attractive to a wide demographic–rather than simply to those who share the same tastes you do.

What’s Hot:

Clutter-Free Living
The choice to live in a condo generally means one must commit to living clutter-free. Although most condos have a storage locker and at least one closet, the space for storage is quite limited compared to that of other types of homes. That’s why it’s so important to adopt a Zen-like approach to clutter and possessions. If you don’t need it, sell it, give it to charity or throw it out. If you don’t know where you’ll put it, don’t buy it. Life is much easier without too much stuff, and condos are much more attractive when they aren’t packed with useless possessions.

Flowing Decor

When decorating a condo, choose a theme and stick with it. Condos and condo townhouses are generally open-concept and fairly small, and introducing too many colour schemes will overpower the space. When painting, choose a colour that you can repeat–for example, paint your bedroom the same colour as your washroom to give the impression of an ensuite and then chose a lighter or darker version of the shade for the living area and kitchen.

Dramatic Wood Finishes

It’s tempting to go with deep, dark paint colours when seeking to add drama to your condo decor, but particularly in a small space, this is not a great idea. Instead, stain the floors a dark oak or cherrywood finish. Cupboards can be outfitted with dramatic finish as well and furniture in rich distressed black stain is another attractive way to add depth to your decorating.

Streamlined Storage

Maximize closet space by building shelves and installing closet organizers. Make every square foot count–even under the bed! Buy thin plastic storage boxes which slide easily into small spaces and use them to store seasonal clothing, wrapping paper, gift bags and more. Invest in drawer organizers and cupboard shelves, too.

What’s Not:

Garish Paint Colours

Lime green may be your favourite colour–and very in to boot–but that doesn’t mean lime is a wise paint colour choice. If you love it, don’t shy away completely, but don’t make it the main focus of your space, either, as rich colours tend to dominate. Instead, choose boldly-coloured accessories such as blankets, throws, candles and vases. If you simply must paint in a dramatic shade, choose a single wall to adorn with shocking colour.

Fading Floors

Even if you didn’t upgrade your floors, it’s important to keep them in great condition. Laminate floors should not be washed with water, because it can leak through cracks and cause bubbling. Instead, sweep well and spot clean with a damp cloth. If you have hardwood, keep it in mint condition by cleaning and waxing regularly. If you plan to sell, a floor sand and refinish may be a good investment.

Too Much Bulk

You may not plan to live in a condo forever, and thus would rather invest in furniture that will make the transition from condo to house with ease – but big, bulky, house-size furniture just doesn’t compute in a small condo. Choose your stuff wisely, and don’t break the bank on condo furniture. There are bargains to be had, especially on small, streamlined stuff.

So long, historically low mortgage rates

Toronto-Dominion Bank and Royal Bank of Canada have raised their mortgage rates ahead of schedule, putting an early end to record-low rates.

The banks offered five-year mortgages at 2.99 per cent, specials that were a boon to home buyers and revealed increasing competitiveness among Canada’s big banks.

They debuted at a time when the housing market is poised to slow down and the Bank of Canada has been warning heavily indebted consumers to do the same.

TD raised its special four-year closed fixed rate mortgage by 40 basis points to 3.39 per cent, effective Wednesday.

Related: Lines of credit rates rising 

At the same time, it is introducing a special five-year closed fixed rate mortgage at 4.04 per cent.

The bank’s five-year closed mortgage now stands 10 basis points higher at 5.24 per cent.

TD had said it would offer the special rates until Feb. 29.

“Rates can go up and down depending on market conditions,” said TD spokesperson Tamar Nersesian. “While we’ve kept this offer available as long as we could, the new rate reflects rising bond yields and the subsequent increase in the cost of funds.”

Royal Bank of Canada made similar changes to its rates on Monday. The new rates also took effect Wednesday.

“Our long term funding costs have gone up considerably due to global economic concerns and while we have held off in passing on these rate changes to our clients, it is now necessary for us to increase this mortgage rate,” said Royal Bank spokesperson Matt Gierasimczuk.

Related: How to ensure you don’t buy the wrong house 

RBC cut its rate to 2.99 per cent in January in response to a similar cut from the Bank of Montreal, whose offer has since expired.

By Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew