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HOME IS WHERE THE SMART IS 

HOME IS WHERE THE SMART IS
Smart home technology is continuing to grow at a rapid rate!

Smart home technology has gone from basic security to smart windows that open and close based on the weather and indoor air temperature.  Here’s a look at a few smart home innovations that will revolutionize our lives:

  1. Connectivity is King – The connected home is a huge theme this year that features connected appliances, smoke alarms, lightbulbs and doorbells.
  2. Talk to Me – There’s a huge focus on voice activated products around the home including voice controlled garbage cans, air purifiers and fridges.
  3. Home Help – Robots are being used to offer companionship for seniors and there’s also an innovative, lifesaving cane that sends out an alert in the event of an emergency.
  4. Laundry Lackey – Washing machines that can do multiple loads at once will save us valuable time and there’s even a machine in the works that will fold the laundry!
  5. Breathe Easy – Sensors can monitor your indoor air for Co2, VOCs, allergens and humidity levels and they’ll also be able to expel bad air and introduce clean air to your home.
  6. Robot Cleaners – With intelligent visual navigation, app control and powerful suction that cleans in corners, you’ll never need to push a vacuum again!

Smart home technology is always improving and it’s a major selling point because the higher your home’s IQ, the higher the resale value will be!  Who knows what the future will bring but one thing’s for sure; smart home technology can provide you and your family convenience and peace of mind.

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Consider the pros and cons carefully before purchasing a condo.

Condos appeal to everyone from young urbanites who want to be in the heart of the action to seniors who just want to relax and enjoy their golden years playing tennis and relaxing by the pool.

Families are also starting to gravitate towards condos as they’re an affordable way to escape the suburbs and move to a vibrant downtown atmosphere where various amenities are only steps away.

Aside from being affordable, condos are low maintenance as you don’t have to spend your weekends cutting the grass and cleaning the gutters.  They also offer enhanced security features which are perfect for those who like to travel.

Convenience, however, comes at a price in the form of condo fees which can be costly depending on the amenities offered by the complex.  That said, condos are often very affordable compared to single family homes, especially for those who are downsizing.

When you buy a condo, you don’t own the land beneath you but instead share a common interest with others in the complex.  This means you’ll be subject to rules and regulations that can dictate anything from the type of planters you’re allowed to display to the kinds of blinds you can hang.

Joint ownership also means you’ll be in close contact with your fellow condo owners.  Some people love the sense of community offered by condos but for those who value their privacy, it can be a difficult adjustment.  Pets are another key consideration as Fido may not be welcome in some buildings.

If your real estate vision includes extensive renovations, condo living may not be for you as your options could be limited.  If however, you’d rather spend your time chilling by the pool instead of painting shutters, the low maintenance factor may be just what you’re after.  It’s really a choice of freedom vs. freedom.

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The Lowdown on Radon Gas

 

THE LOWDOWN ON RADON
Do you know if you and your family are protected against radon?

Radon is an invisible radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks.

It doesn’t present a concern outdoors but when radon becomes trapped inside a house, it can be very harmful to your health as it increases the risk of lung cancer.

Radon can seep into your home through gaps in floors, walls and foundations.  The only way to know if you have high radon levels is to purchase an inexpensive testing kit or to install a radon detector.

Radon concentrations vary from home to home so don’t take any chances — protect your family by testing your home for radon today.

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Mortgage Rules Change

OSFI extends ‘stress test’ to all new mortgages
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) released revised “B-20” guidelines for residential mortgage underwriting at federally regulated financial institutions. As was widely expected, the updated ‘stress test’  will be applied to all new mortgages beginning on January 1, 2018. Currently, the test applies only to mortgages requiring insurance (i.e. those with low down payments) and those whose term is less than five years.
  • This change requires that borrowers qualify for mortgages at the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or the contracted rate plus 200 basis points. For reference, as of this morning, the Bank of Canada posted rate was 4.89%. It should be noted that OSFI will not apply the more stringent requirements in the case of mortgage renewal.
  • While the extension of qualification guidelines will likely draw the most attention, OSFI introduced two other changes:
    • Loan-to-value limits must be established and lenders will be required to ensure that they “are reflective of risk and are updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve”
    • Lending arrangements designed to get around loan-to-value limits are restricted with the updated guideline explicitly forbidding ‘co-lending’ or ‘bundling’ arrangements.
Key Implications
  • As expected, OSFI has expanded the scope of the ‘stress test’ to include anyone taking out a mortgage at a federally regulated institution regardless of the term and whether they are insured. Perhaps underscoring the logic behind the change, OSFI bank data for August of this year showed insured mortgages (which were already subject to the stress test) were down 4.5% year-on-year, while uninsured mortgage credit grew 17.3%. While this is partly related to the rising prices of Canadian real estate, with more and more of it priced above the insurance caps, it also likely reflects the skew stemming from the past stress test requirements. As such, today’s change, alongside the explicit guidance around co-lending arrangements, will together help address the shift as far as those borrowing from federally regulated institutions.  
  • As discussed in our regional housing outlook, broadening the stress test will likely further slow housing activity, depressing demand by 5% to 10% once implemented, with some pull-forward of activity likely to take place ahead of the January 1st implementation date. Price growth will also be impacted, with these changes expected to exert a drag of between 2% and 4% over 2018. On balance, these changes should help enhance the resilience of the Canadian banking system in a rising interest rate environment.
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Keep Emotion in Check in Real Estate Transactions

PREPARING FOR THE REAL ESTATE ROLLER COASTER RIDE
Never wear your emotions on your sleeve during the real estate ride.

Selling your home is a huge financial transaction that can trigger a roller coaster of emotions.  When you’re being tossed around at every turn, you need to hang on and stay on track.

Although you’ll likely have a strong connection to your home, try not to get offended if a potential buyer wants to rip up your kitchen or paint over the wood trim.

Also, never take comments personally.  It’s natural for people to complain when they’re interested in something so while criticisms may seem negative, they’re actually a sign that the buyer’s interested in your home.

If you receive a “low ball” offer, remember that it’s often just a starting point but be aware of tactics such as “low balling” where an attractive price is initially offered only to be adjusted at a later point on the basis that circumstances have changed.  Recognizing these strategies will help you keep a balanced perspective.

If you’re able to generate multiple offers, make sure you consider more than just the price.  There’s nothing worse than accepting a conditional offer just because it’s over the asking price only to have it fall apart a month later when you could have accepted a firm cash offer that was almost as good.

It’s completely natural for both buyers and sellers to experience a wide range of intense emotions as they navigate through the complex real estate process.  However, if you hop on the real estate roller coaster with a competent agent by your side, you’ll not only enjoy the ride but you’ll look forward to doing it again!

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Steps In Buying A New Home

Affordability

It is important to know what you can afford. Get pre-approved with a financial institution prior to beginning your search. Shop around to get the best rate and terms to suit you. It will make your offer stronger if you don’t require a condition for financing.In addition to the pre-approval, we will review

In addition to the pre-approval, we will review together with my section on Residential Resale Cost/ and procedures, so you can budget for the other closing costs involved.

Defining your needs 

If you are purchasing with someone else, sit down and discuss what is important to each of you and discuss which things are imperative, and where you will make compromises.

Picking a Neighbourhood 

Be open to alternatives we might suggest. There may be areas or pockets that you haven’t thought about. Or know about, that would meet your criteria.

Also consider different types of homes in your price range, at the beginning of your search. Know your options.

Choose an Agent & Agency Relationship 

Hopefully, at this point, you have chosen to work with us, or are if we have just met, you will see the information we have provided that we have the knowledge and expertise you are looking for.

After reviewing and discussing Agency and home it affects you, a decision will have to be made as to whether you choose to be a customer or a client in the buying process. More information is available from us on this topic.

Viewing & Choosing 

You will be notified by phone or e-mail attachments of all new properties that may meet your requirements as soon as they are processed. This is usually well in advance of the home is listed on a public site.

We will then make arrangements to view those you are interested in.

After viewing enough homes to feel comfortable with your decision, make the choice. It is difficult to find the absolute perfect home.

Decide on the one that meets most of your requirements and where you are prepared to make compromises or changes.

Preparing the Offer 

We will then prepare the offer, present it, and negotiate it on your behalf.

After Acceptance 

We will follow up after acceptance to satisfy any conditions, forward documentation to your lawyer and follow up with the process to closing.

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What’s next? From Offer Acceptance to Closing Day

The time between acceptance of your offer and the closing date is sometimes a confusing time period. This article will remove some of the mystery. Hopefully, any questions you might have, have been anticipated; however if there is anything that hasn’t been covered, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

We will be in touch at regular intervals until closing date ( and after) to ensure that everything is proceeding in order.

The Agreement of Purchase & Sale

The Agreement of Purchase and Sale, (and any amendments or waivers) will be sent to your Lawyer or Paralegal as discussed.

The Deposit

The Deposit will be placed in an Interest Bearing Account until closing and credited against the purchase price on the Statement of Adjustments. If there was a clause that the interest on the deposit cheque is to be paid to the purchaser, then this cheque will be mailed after closing.

Title Search & Requisition Date

If there are no conditions in the Agreement, your lawyer will open a file and begin the procedure to ensure that you will have good title to the property. If there are conditions the process will be delayed until the conditions have been waived.

This procedure may include other things, but here are the basics:

  • The Title Search
  • Obtaining a Tax certificate (showing current realty tax information)
  • Assurances from Municipal and Utility Departments that there are no liens or issues affecting the property (i.e. work orders or outstanding payments etc.)
  • A search to ascertain if there are any judgments outstanding against the current owners and if there is a mortgage on your purchase, they will also search regarding your name(s).

All of the searches will be conducted prior to the Requisition Date noted in your Agreement. If there are any questionable issues, they will be addressed in the form of a “Requisition Letter” to the Vendor’s Lawyer; to be satisfied prior to closing. Your lawyer will address any of those concerns (if any) around that time.

Survey And/Or Title Insurance 

If an existing survey for the property is not available (or does not show the current location of the fences, buildings, and structures), the mortgagee will require either a new survey or title insurance.

Title insurance is less expensive and acceptable for the mortgagee, in most situations (insuring the property against possible encroachments etc. that an up to date survey might reveal). First Canadian Title Company is one of such companies offering this survey, but your lawyer may recommend others.

If you choose to have a new survey prepared, we can provide you with a few names of those we have used in the past, or your lawyer may have someone they prefer. We would be happy to assist you in making any arrangements.

Financing

Your lawyer will in all probability also represent your financial institution with respect to your first mortgage. In that regard, they will send any documentation directly to your lawyer, and make the funds available for the closing date. If you have a closing date that extends beyond your rate commitment watch the rates and get in touch if you see rates increasing. (Get your commitment extended.)

Executing Documents & Balance of Down Payment

During the week prior to closing your lawyer will request an appointment for you to execute closing documents, (i.e. mortgage documentation, land transfer tax affidavit etc.) and review the Statement of Adjustments. You will also be required to bring a certified cheque at that time for the balance of your down payment and legal fees. This appointment usually occurs the day prior to closing.

Closing Date

On the closing date, your lawyer will exchange documentation and balance of closing funds with the vendor’s lawyer’s firm and complete the transaction.

Possession

Your lawyer may have many transactions closing on your closing date, and it is often difficult to close early in the day. If you are selling as well, then that transaction has to close first in order to have the money to close your purchase. You are not legally entitled to possession of the keys and your new home until the closing has occurred. Keys will be given to your lawyer on closing.

Keep this in mind when making your moving arrangements. You don’t want to pay for a moving van all day if the closing doesn’t occur until later in the day.

Access Visits Prior to Closing

Visits prior to closing will be arranged through Lakeview Realty Inc. (with the listing agent and the vendor.) If you require any assistance with respect to contractors etc., We have names that we could recommend.

Please visit our Concierge section for more details. We would be happy to help.

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 Planning Your Move

An organized approach and checklist can make “The Moving Process” a lot easier!

Movers: 

Book the movers. It’s a good idea to obtain estimates from several different companies. (Note: There are different rates for different times of the month). You can choose to have the movers pack everything, some of your more precious or breakable items, or pack everything yourself.

If packing yourself, make arrangements for special boxes on moving day for mirrors/pictures etc. and make special arrangements for moving your pets and perishables, such as food and plants.

Ask the movers if they provide or sell boxes. Some of them will give you used boxes to start the process. If none are provided, there are stores that cater to moving. Check the yellow pages or speak to us. We can point you in the right direction. It is a good idea to devise a colour code system with stickers for boxes going to different rooms on moving day.

Be aware that you do not own the new home, (and are not entitled to possession) until after the transaction closes. If you are closing and moving on the same day, you may not have possession until later in the afternoon.

If you rent your present home:

Give the necessary written notice to your landlord, and make arrangements of any monies you may have on deposit.

If you own your present home:

Call the gas and electric companies and let them know you are moving. Arrange to have the meters read on the appropriate date.

If your water heater is rented, arrange for the transfer of the rental agreement to the new owners.

Instruct your heating oil supplier to fill the tank on the appropriate date. You will be credited with the cost at closing. If the new owners are converting to gas, make special arrangements with them.

Advise the telephone and cable companies of your move and have them discontinue their services on the appropriate date.

Advise all of your present service companies of your new address and closing date, so final billings may be directed to you.

At your new home:

Make arrangements with the gas and electric utilities, telephone, cable and other services to be connected or begin on the day of closing.

General: 

Obtain “Change of Address cards” from the post office and send out well in advance.

Have the post office forward your mail to your new address.

Inform gardening, dry-cleaning, newspapers, magazines, diaper and other home services of your new address.

Obtain a letter of introduction from your current bank to help establish new accounts. Transfer trust or bank accounts and securities.

Inform all creditors (Visa, Master Card etc.) of your new address and the date it becomes effective. (Don’t forget pre-authorized payments)

Cancel or transfer social, athletic, civic, religious or business affiliations and memberships.

Arrange for the transfer of medical and dental prescriptions and optical records.

Consider having a “Garage Sale” to dispose of unwanted clothes and furnishings.

Change your address on your driver’s licenses, effective the date of your move.

Collect all items out of cleaning and storage.

Safely dispose of all flammable liquids, as it is illegal for movers to carry them.

Arrange with your lawyer for access and keys on the closing date.

Leave a note in the house with your address for the new owners or occupants in the event that someone wasn’t notified.

Take advantage of the Lakeview Realty Inc. “Concierge Service” to make your move an effortless one and to help you on your way! 

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Steps in Making a Purchase Offer

Making An Offer? Keep these items in mind.

Agency

Prior to making an offer, we will have discussed agency with you, and you will have chosen in which capacity you wish Lakeview Realty Inc., to represent you. (Either as a customer, or a client).

Deciding & Preparing

When it comes time to make an offer, (and assuming you have chosen to work with us as our client.. a buyer broker relationship), we can provide information and advise as to the current market information to assist you in making your decisions.

Major elements of a real estate offer:

 

Price:

This depends on the current market conditions, but generally, in a normal or buyer’s market, the price offered by the buyer is different from the asking price. In a seller’s market, however, (and if there is more than one offer), the offering price is often over the list price.

Deposit:

The deposit shows the buyer’s good faith and will be applied against the purchase price of the home when the sale closes. Between 5% and 6% is a bit of a benchmark in the City of Toronto. A Lakeview Realty Inc., Professional can advise you as to an appropriate amount.

Terms:

Includes the total price and deposit which the purchaser is offering as well as the financing details. The buyer may be arranging their own financing or may ask to assume your existing mortgage if you have an attractive rate and term. (Usually in a market when rates are higher)

Conditions:

These might include “subject to home inspection”, “subject to the sale of the purchaser’s property”, “subject to obtaining satisfactory financing” etc. In a seller’s market, try not to have any conditions. Work out all the details ahead of time.

Inclusions and Exclusions:

These might include appliances, certain fixtures such as light fixtures, heating systems, air conditioning, window treatments etc. If there is something you are not sure about, spell it out. Don’t get caught up on the little things. You are purchasing a home, not chattels.

Closing Or Possession Date:

Generally the day the title of the property is legally transferred to the buyer, and funds are received by the seller. (unless otherwise specified).

You may have made the offer conditional on certain events occurring (i.e. financing/inspection/ sale of purchaser’s property etc.). This is not recommended however if it is a seller’s market and you are in competition. The offer will be prepared, after discussing the details with you.

Presentation & Negotiation

We will then present and negotiate the offer to and with the Vendor on your behalf, along with the listing broker. As mentioned, in a seller’s market, there will often be more than one offer and you will be guided and directed through this process.

The vendor will then have the choice of accepting, rejecting or countering your offer. The counter offer could be for any number of reasons (i.e. the price, conditions, closing date or any other items).

The offer can be countered back and forth until an agreement is reached or the negotiations cease.

Acceptance & Closing

After an agreement is reached, the parties acknowledge receipt of a copy of the agreement. You will continue to be assisted with satisfying the conditions, delivering copies to the lawyers and following through with you until after the transaction closes… and beyond.

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Residential Real Estate Sale Costs

Important Note: This outline and costs are for Residential Re-Sale/Single Family only. Different rates may apply to New Homes & ICI properties. Please check with your professional advisors for specific amounts as this is only a guideline.


Don’t Be Surprised!

Buyers and Sellers are sometimes surprised on closing day with extra costs they had not anticipated, or been advised about. The following is an outline of normal costs. We hope you find it helpful.

Vendor’s Closing Costs

Discharge of Mortgage/Charge

Check with your mortgage, but a standard procedure with some financial institutions (unless an open mortgage, or specifically written in the mortgage document) is to charge a 3 month interest penalty, or the interest differential (whichever is greater). Check this out.

Real Estate Commission + GST on the Commission.

Moving Costs

Moving costs vary. Rates are usually from about $65.00 to $95.00 per hour, depending on the company and the number of people. It will also depend on the size of the vehicle and the time of the month you are moving. (The days around the middle and end of the month are busier and more costly) If they participate in the packing, the cost increases.

Legal Fees

This varies according to the lawyer. Most lawyers charge a flat fee, plus disbursements.   It is a good idea to get a couple of quotes. Make sure you ask what the fee includes (i.e. title insurance/disbursements etc.)

There is usually an extra fee if the lawyer is also acting for the mortgagee. Fees probably will range from about $600.00 and up depending on the Sale Price. Some Title Insurance companies are now doing a closing package.

Note: Some purchasers like to involve their lawyer prior to signing an offer.

 

Purchaser’s Closing Costs

Deposit

At the time of presenting an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, you will have an option to submit a deposit cheque payable to the listing broker, or deliver on acceptance. This will be held in trust until closing. The cheque is usually certified and deposited on the day after acceptance. (If you are in a competition situation, it is a good idea to have a certified cheque on presentation.).

The amount of the cheque is usually from about 5% – 6% of the offering price, or more depending on the circumstances and closing date. If you have a home to sell or your money is tied up in a term deposit etc., you can often make arrangements with your financial institution for a short term loan or line of credit.

Survey

If there is not a survey showing the current location of fences, buildings, and structures, (and the agreement of purchase and sale does not state that the vendor will provide one) then it may be necessary to arrange for one. The mortgagee will either require a new survey or title insurance. This will vary with financial institutions.

Even if the mortgagee doesn’t require one, you may wish one. (especially if you are planning to do any extensions etc. in the future).

Costs vary from about $700 to $1000.

Title Insurance

This is becoming more popular, especially when there is no up-to-date survey. (As mentioned) or where there may be potential problems, such as encroachments etc. It is often used with mortgage refinancing or assurance for a minor title problem. The fee is in the area of $200 to $300 but could vary with more expensive homes.

The fee is in the area of $200 to $300 but could vary with more expensive homes.

Legal Fees

This varies according to the lawyer. Most lawyers charge a flat fee, plus disbursements. It is a good idea to get a couple of quotes. Make sure you ask what the fee includes (i.e. title insurance/disbursements etc.).

There is usually an extra fee if the lawyer is also acting for the mortgagee. Fees probably will range from about $600.00 and up depending on the Sale Price. Some Title Insurance companies are now doing a closing package. Note: Some purchasers like to involve their lawyer prior to signing an offer.

Disbursements

These are costs that your lawyer will have to pay on your behalf. They include things like the following: Photocopies, Tax Certificates, Zoning clearances and Work Orders, Couriers, Registration of Deeds/Mortgages, Postage, Long Distance Calls, Mortgage Schedules, Sheriff’s Certificate, Condominium Estoppel Certificate, etc. These will vary on different properties, but probably in the area of $600.00 and up.

Statement of Adjustments

The balance due on closing is the difference between the sale price and the amount of your deposit which was presented with the offer. However, there are a few things that get adjusted at the time of closing. The vendor is responsible for everything up to closing date and the purchaser is responsible from then on.

This would include things like Realty Taxes and fuel oil (if heated by oil).

The normal procedure is for the vendor to fill the fuel oil tank (200 gallons is standard) on closing and charge for a full tank. (Unless the purchaser is converting to gas, at which time other arrangements will be made.)

Utilities and Gas (which is metered) will be read on closing.

There may be other adjustments if the purchaser is assuming a mortgage. (Or if purchasing a new home)

Home Inspection

Usually done within 2-3 days from acceptance, although if thought to be in competition, some purchasers will do a pre-inspection. Usually between $300 to $400, plus GST. There may be additional charges if inspecting something specific, such as termites.

Home Insurance

From about $400 and up. Call for quotes. All mortgages must be noted on the policy. There is also an 8% insurance tax.

Note: If purchasing an older home with the old “knob and tube” wiring, you may have to shop around, as some companies will not insure the home unless it is replaced.

GST

Most residential resales are exempt from GST, however, most of the services involved with the transaction will be subject to GST (e.g.- real estate commissions, lawyer’s fees, appraisals, processing fees, homes inspections, insurance, moving costs, etc.) Financial services are exempt (mortgage, brokerage, etc.)

Substantially renovated houses – are subject to GST if purchased from the Builder/Renovator.

Note: GST is a Tax and will not be added to the value of the home for finance purposes.

Land Transfer Tax

This tax is payable at the time of closing and these rates apply to residential resale only. See our post on Land Transfer Tax for rate estimates.

Arranging the First Mortgage

For a conventional mortgage, (75% of the Sale price) there could be a processing fee (from $200 to $300), and/or an appraisal fee (about $200) for arranging the first mortgage. If you choose to pay realty taxes with your mortgage payment, there could be a tax hold back from about 1/3 to 1/2 of the annual taxes or more. This would be for the purpose of building up a reserve to pay taxes in the following year.

Note: If arranging a mortgage over 75% of the Sale price (i.e. high ratio) the processing fees could be about $275 or more (an insurance premium on the principal amount of the mortgage would also apply, but this is usually added to the mortgage and not a closing cost.. from 0.5% to 3.75% depending on the down payment. There is also an 8% insurance tax)

Second Mortgage costs 

If arranging a second mortgage rather than a high ratio mortgage, there would be additional legal fees and Appraisal and brokerage fees. Approximately $500.00 and up PLUS Brokerage of about $475.00 and up.

Closing Date

Just a reminder at this point as to the procedure on the closing date. It will be necessary for your lawyer to obtain the money from you and the mortgagee, either the day prior to/ or the morning of the closing. They then have to arrange a time to close the transaction with the lawyer on the other side of the transaction. It is advisable not to order the moving truck too early in the day, as you are not entitled to the key/ and possession until the deal is closed. You then have to obtain the keys from your lawyer. Don’t pay for a mover to sit outside your new home.