Category: Tips
A Closer Look at the Fair Housing Plan

Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan introduced 16 measures aimed to help cool the hot real estate market.  These new measures are expected to bring stability to buyers and renters in the real estate market as well as implement efforts to gather more data to help make more informed decisions in the future.

Let’s take a closer look at 3 measures worth reviewing:
Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST)
  • Effective April 21, 2017, the NRST would charge 15% on the price of homes within the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) area.  The GGH includes the following geographic areas: Brant, Dufferin, Durham, Haldimand, Halton, Kawartha Lakes, Niagara, Northumberland, Peel, Peterborough, Simcoe, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington and York.  This tax applies to buyers who are not Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents.
  • Exemptions: refugees and foreign nationals who receives confirmation under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
  • Rebates: available to foreign nationals who become a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident within 4 years of the date of purchase, foreign students who have been enrolled in full-time studies for at least 2 years, foreign nationals who have legally worked full-time in Ontario for a continuous period of 1 year since the date of purchase/acquisition
Rent Control
  • Rent control will be applicable to all private rental units built after 1991.  The yearly rental increase will be capped at a max of 2.5%.
Cracking Down on “Paper Flippers”
  • As part of the Ontario government’s plan to collect more data, they’ll be using that data to crack down on buyers who invest in new builds and then sell them on assignment before it closes – they’ve coined these buyers as “paper flippers”.  They’ll be working closely with the CRA to ensure all taxes (e.g. land transfer taxes) are paid.
Click here to read up on the 16 measures that were implemented.

Tips for Selling Your Home This Spring

It’s only February but spring is just around the corner, so if you’re planning on listing your home this coming season, the best time to get started is NOW!

 

Here are some of the tried and true tips to get you started:

 

Declutter, declutter, declutter

One of the most cost effective selling tips that I can offer is to declutter your home so you can maximize the perceived space in the home. Many buyers are unable to look past the clutter and visualize the amount of space available. Throw out or consider donating things that you’ll never use, and clear out all the non-essentials. Buyers will look through closets, open drawers and examine the garage space – organize those areas so buyers can visualize their belongings there.

 

Give your walls a good coat of paint (if needed)

Try to keep your paint colours neutral, remember it’s not about personal preferences but appealing to the masses. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a good paint job can make, often changing the whole look and feel of the home.

 

Deep clean your home

Consider hiring professional cleaners to deep clean your home and get into the nooks and crannies that are often overlooked. Many buyers pay close attention to areas like the kitchen and bathrooms so you’d want to make sure those are spotless. If you’ve got carpet in your home, considering getting them steam cleaned.

 

Make sure your home passes the sniff test

Smell is powerful and can easily drive buyers from your home. Often times, home owners do not notice the smells are even there. Ask someone that doesn’t live in the home to see if they notice any odors (e.g. pet odors, cooking odors, etc.) and address them before you list your home on the market.

 

Find a temporary pet sitter

Not everyone is an animal lover and one of the first things that pop into a buyer’s mind is “what if the pets had a lot of accidents in the home and it seeped through the floors?”, “what if they damaged the home?”. Pet odors can sometimes be unpleasant and unwelcoming especially if there are unforeseen accidents or unusual smells coming from places like the litter box, take your pets somewhere safe and comfortable while your home is being listed.

 

For more tips and tricks, please contact me at info@cynthiahu.ca


5 Reasons to List Your Home in the Winter

Happy New Year!!  Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Now that the holidays are over, I’ve had a number of homeowners ask me when would be the best time to list their home.  No doubt, there’s a ton activity in the Spring and Fall markets, however believe it or not, the months leading up to Spring are a great time to consider listing your home.  Here are 5 reasons why:

 1).  “Spring market” starts in February

Buyers are ready in February and typically want to close “in the spring”.

 2).  Less competition

Most sellers wait until April/May, which means more homes for sale = more competition for sellers.

 3).  January is the biggest corporate relocation month

Most corporate moves happen at the beginning of the year and the relocating Buyer is typically motivated and ready to make a quick decision.

 4).  Homes show well during winter months

The holidays are a great time to showcase your home because winter decor makes the home feel and homey inside and out.

 5).  More serious Buyers

Although you may have fewer showings during these cold months, you’ll definitely have more qualified Buyers who are ready to act now.

If you’re thinking about selling your home and want to know how much your home is worth or if you want to know what’s involved in prepping your home for sale, let’s connect and I’ll walk you through everything you need to know!


10 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
1.  Conduct an energy audit

If you’re thinking about making your home more energy efficient, start by getting an energy audit from a certified energy advisor from Natural Resources Canada (www.nrcan.gc.ca). You may be able to reduce energy use by 30%.

2.  Seal up those drafts

Have you ever walked around parts of your house and felt cold air come in? Drafty windows and doors are often a major source for energy loss. The expensive way to fix this is by replacing/upgrading your windows, however if that is not an option, consider using weather-stripping and caulking as an economical option to reduce air leaks.

3.  Upgrade your heating system

If you live in an older home, the long term savings from installing a new high-efficiency condensing gas furnace may be the best investment you can make. Talk to a certified heating contractor to help you understand which heating system would work best for you.

4.  Add insulation

A basement with minimal insulation can increase annual heating costs by 10% – 30% since bare concrete conducts heat outwards. Additionally, you should also check the insulation in your attic to ensure it has an adequate R-value

5.  Curb your hot water use

In a typical Canadian home, water heating can account for 20% of total utility costs. Consider switching out an older water heater for a more energy-efficient model, or consider a new tankless water heater that warms water on demand.

6.  Replace energy-sapping appliances

Do you have an older appliance in your basement or kitchen that you’ve had difficulties parting ways with? It could cost you hundreds of dollars in extra operating costs over the years. For example, dryers are about 18% more energy efficient now than in 1990, and an old refrigerator can consume as much energy as 4 new ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances.   Consider replacing those clunkers!

7.  Adjust the heat

Invest in a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the heating levels of your home. They say that you can save ~2% on your heating bill for every 1 degree you turn down your thermostat overnight.

8.  Cool down wisely

If you live in an older home with window-unit air conditioners, consider replacing them with an ENERGY STAR® model to save on electricity costs. ENERGY STAR® models use ~30%-40% less energy than the models sold 10-15 years ago.

9.  Switch to low flow toilets

Replace your old 18L per flush toilets with an ultra-low volume 6L per flush model, which can achieve a 70% savings in water and cut indoor water use by as much as 30%.

10.  Look for emerging alternatives

Consider renewable energy sources such as using solar panels to product household electricity.


Everything You Need to Know About The Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA)

The BRA is a contract that defines the relationship between a buyer and a real estate brokerage. The term itself, “buyer representation agreement”, sounds intense and may be enough to scare away Buyers! Before running away, it’s important to understand what a BRA is and what it means to sign one.

The Toronto Real Estate Board has done a great job outlining the benefits of signing a BRA (http://www.brafirst.ca):

  • It ensures that your Realtor will be committed to finding your home
  • It outlines the fiduciary duties of your Realtor (and their brokerage) such as full disclosure of property information, loyalty, and confidentiality, to name a few
  • Protection of your interests
  • Expert professional advice
  • Puts your home criteria must haves in a Buyer Registry Service so Sellers’ agents can contact your Realtor if there is a potential match

Here are some things to be mindful of when signing a BRA:

  • It is an exclusive contract, which means you will be obligated to work with that specific brokerage for the duration of the time period outlined. If you decide that you no longer want to work with that specific brokerage, you must terminate the contract before working with another brokerage.
  • It outlines the commission payable regardless of what is being offered by the Seller. For example, if the BRA states that the brokerage will be paid 2.5% of the purchase price and you decide to purchase a home that is “For Sale by Owner” where the Seller is offering no commission, you will be responsible for paying the amount outlined in the BRA.
  • Pay attention to the duration of the holdover section. If the BRA has expired and you decide to purchase a home that you visited while under contract with the brokerage, you will be responsible for paying the commission outlined in the BRA if it is purchased during the holdover period.

Signing a BRA provides contractual protection and serves as a guarantee in writing, that your Realtor (and their brokerage) will make your home buying needs a top priority. When hiring an agent, find someone that you actually like and can trust, someone who will work hard to help you find your dream home, and will look out for your best interests, not their next commission cheque!


How to Dodge the Bullets and Improve Your Chances of Winning a Bidding War

Let’s face it, bidding wars suck for buyers! There’s a ton of pressure and the bidding process can get emotional.   In the end there is only one lucky home buyer who walks away with the prize, while the others are left scratching their heads wondering “WTF?”

The market has been active – interest rates are still low and there are buyers on the hunt for houses. If a house is located in a really great neighbourhood, you can bet the demand will exceed the supply.

Remember that house in the Yonge and Lawrence area that was listed for $699,000, received 72 offers and sold for $1,366,000? Yes, you read correctly…$1,366,000, that’s 195% over asking! No wonder why my buyer clients cringe when I have to break the news to them that a house has an offer date.

After encountering multiple offer situations in the past week for several of my clients, I thought it was time to document a few tips and tricks to improve your chances of winning. While this blog entry is by no means the answer to winning all bidding wars, its intent is to educate you and give you the best chance at winning your dream home.

Go in With a Clean Offer

There are 2 important conditions that typically go in all offers:

  1. Financing
  2. Home Inspection

Always have your financing approved ahead of time. An offer with a financing condition during a multiple offer situation is a weak approach to winning. Sellers want to firm up offers as soon as possible and if they have to wait for you to get your finances in order with your bank/mortgage broker, then of course they’ll want to go with the buyer that knows, with 100% certainty, they can afford the house.

It’s risky waiving the home inspection condition without having the home inspected. You never know the condition of the home – there may be issues with the insulation, cracks in the foundation wall, etc., that you may end up paying for down the road. If the homeowner has not done so already, your best bet is to get a home inspection done prior to the offer. If the seller did a home inspection, make sure you review the report in detail and consult with the home inspector if you have any questions. If you’re not confident about the report, get another home inspection done before submitting the offer.

In the end, you need to work within your comfort zone and if you’re uncomfortable going in with a “clean offer” then you should include conditions/clauses to protect yourself.

Be Flexible With the Possession Date and Give the Sellers What They Want

Many sellers don’t know exactly when they want to close. Giving the seller the option to set their own closing date within a timeframe determined by the buyer may appear more attractive. Try to accommodate the seller’s requested possession date and work with your realtor to determine the date the seller wants.

Come Prepared with a Certified Deposit

Most deposits are typically delivered to the listing brokerage upon acceptance of the offer. In a multiple offer situation, you’ll want to prove to the sellers that you have the money and capacity to complete the transaction – this will show you mean business and are serious about this offer!

My clients often ask me “how much deposit should I give?” While there is no written rule, a larger deposit can speak volumes. If you know that you’re going to be participating in a bidding war, make sure you give yourself ample time to shift your money around (if required).

Tell Your Story

When presenting offers to the sellers and their realtor, I like to give a little background information about my clients and explain to them why the buyers love their house. Cash isn’t always king and sometimes the emotional connection is the extra umph needed to win the bid. Don’t forget to explain to your realtor why you love the home, or better yet, write a personal note to the sellers – a little goes a long way!

Be a Bully

You heard me…BE A BULLY…and forget everything you were taught growing up about why it’s bad to be a bully! This can be a risky strategy but may pay off in the end. A bully offer is when you submit an offer before the offer date. This will only work if the offer is considerably higher than asking and worth it for the seller to risk the multiple offer process (e.g. will the seller be better off accepting your bully offer or will they get a better offer if they go through with the multiple offer process?).

Legally, they have to notify everyone who has visited the property and give them an opportunity to submit an offer. Your offer should have a short irrevocable time on it to prevent others from acting on this and putting in a competing bid.

In closing…

While bidding wars can be crazy, preparing yourself and getting the right information ahead of time will help you make the best decision possible.   Work with your realtor and make every decision without any regret.


Are Bidding Wars Here to Stay?

Written by guest blogger Frederick Chan (Mortgage Agent – Lic# 12070, Mortgage Alliance Performance Group)

…I hope not! Unless I’m on the selling side of course! Check out this article in the Star about the Toronto Real Estate Council debating ways in which they can curb these crazy bidding wars on houses. I think the key is that when buying a house you need to do so with your head, not your heart. Buyers are getting way too emotional when purchasing and it can come back to bite you!

If you buy a house for $400K and the bank values it at $380K, YOU HAVE TO PAY THE DIFFERENCE! How does that work? Let’s say you were planning on putting 5% down on $400K and the bank or insurer values the property at $380K. You could finance the house at 95% of $380K, requiring a down payment of $19K + the $20K difference between the purchase price and the appraised value. For most people with only 5% down, this is a big issue!

Here are some things to look out for if you’re buying a house in this crazy market:

– Regardless of whether you are pre-approved, the house is not. If the lender or insurer value the house lower than your purchase price, you’ll have to live with that value. So if you are putting down the minimum 5%, make sure you have a financing condition, so you can get out of the deal if this happens.

– Lenders don’t like properties that say “renovators dream” or “sold in as-is condition” very much. It implies there is something wrong with the property. Make sure you have an exit strategy for these types of places in case the bank has an issue.

– Banks understand the strategy of sellers pricing low to initiate a bidding war, but you can bet they will scrutinize the application a little bit more if the selling price is $200K over the asking price!

– Make sure to send me (or your lender) a copy of the MLS listing prior to putting in an offer so we can have a look. Especially if you are planning on putting in a “firm” offer.

Happy Hunting!


The Dangers of Overpricing Your Home

It’s completely understandable that Sellers are eager to maximize their profit, unfortunately some make risky pricing decisions and end up making a lot less than they could have.

Common Misconceptions from Sellers:
“My home is much nicer than the others on the market. A higher price is completely justified”

“I’m not in a rush to sell”

“Let’s test the market, price high and see what we get”

Overpricing your home does have consequences.
An asking price that is beyond market value can impact the marketing of your property. Some risks include:

  • Fewer buyers attracted = fewer offers received
  • The property helps competing houses look better by comparison
  • Days on market is prolonged – Houses that have been on the market for a longer period of time tend to get lower offers
  • The best time to capture a buyer’s attention is within the first week – overpricing could deter potential buyers from seeing the home

The following image illustrates the percentage of buyers that will view your home relative to the asking pricing.

market2

If you are a serious seller, price your home appropriately and attract serious buyers. You will stand a much better chance of getting full-market value, and your property will sell much faster.


Buying a Condo? Don’t Forget About the Status Certificate!

When buying a condo, you’re given the option of requesting for a status certificate before the offer is “sold firm”. There is no legal obligation to obtain one before purchasing a condo, however it is highly recommended that you do.

Your Realtor will typically include a clause that contains two parts:
1. Request that the sellers provide a copy of the condo’s status certificate, and

2. Conditional upon the review by your lawyer

The status certificate is a document, prepared by the Board of Directors, which outlines important information concerning the overall state of the condo corporation. The document details things such as how the building is managed, if there are any pending lawsuits, and the overall financial health of the condo corporation.

The status certificate is often packaged with other important documents such as the condo declaration, by-laws, budget, reserve fund, insurance certificate and financial statements.

The status certificate typically costs $100 (+ HST) and is often paid for by the seller.

The document outlines everything you need to know about the condo upfront so there are no surprises. If you’re buying a condo, this is definitely one piece of document you don’t want to close without!


Address
Century 21 Atria Realty Inc., Brokerage*
1550 16th Ave. #C200 South
Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3K9
Contact
D 416.684.5372
O. 905.883.1988
E. info@cynthiahu.ca
Century
*Each office is independently owned and operated
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