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Toronto’s Thrilling October: Must-See Events and Happenings!

PumpkinFest at Downey’s Farm (Sept. 23 – Oct. 31)

Get ready for a pumpkin-packed adventure at Downey’s Farm! From wagon rides to a-maze-ing corn mazes, live entertainment, and adorable farm animals, they’ve got a fantastic lineup of family fun waiting for you.

LEGENDS OF HORROR (Sept. 29 – Oct. 31)

Prepare to be spooked and thrilled as Legends of Horror makes its chilling return to Casa Loma this October. Brace yourself for a hauntingly unforgettable experience!

Toronto Oktoberfest (OCTOBER 6 & 7)

Dust off your lederhosen and dirndls. Toronto’s favorite fall festival is back! Young and old, modern and traditional all blend together harmoniously in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere at Toronto’s Oktoberfest!


Pumpkin Fest Toronto (October 6 – 9)

Enjoy a weekend filled with unlimited midway rides, inflatable fun, a sprawling pumpkin patch, local food trucks, live entertainment, tons of family photo ops, and so much more at Pumpkin Fest Toronto!

Woodbridge Fair (October 7-9)

Get ready for a fun-filled adventure at the Woodbridge Fair! From thrilling rides and games to captivating history and antiques, plus a mouthwatering array of fair foods and culinary arts, competitions with exciting prizes, and the wonders of animals and nature – this event has something for everyone to enjoy.

Planet in Focus (October 12 – 22)

Explore urgent environmental issues through captivating storytelling at the Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival, a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization.

TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL (October 18-22)

Mark your calendars and prepare for an unforgettable cinematic experience at the 17th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival. As one of the most anticipated events in the city, this festival promises thrilling films, exciting premieres, and a celebration of the macabre and the fantastical that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Next Stage Theatre Festival (October 18-29)

Experience the 16th Next Stage Theatre Festival at the historic Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, offering an experimental lineup of six productions with diverse artistic elements.

Art Toronto (October 26-29)

Art Toronto 2023 will return to downtown Toronto for a showcase of over 100 galleries from across Canada and abroad, attended by over 20,000 collectors, curators, and art enthusiasts.

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Latest News from the Toronto Real Estate Market – Advice for Investors

With Labour Day in the rearview mirror, the fall market is in full force.

Over the last couple of weeks, a ton of new listings have hit the market, including a large number of condos in C08 and C01, which effectively covers the downtown core. I believe that the abundance of listings is due to investors trying to get out of the market because the rents they’re charging simply don’t cover the carrying costs. Personally, I believe in long-term investments.

I also believe that condo prices will go up in value over time so to hold on to an investment and perhaps take a loss in the short term makes sense… but you have to act based on your personal circumstances and what you’re comfortable with. If that means you want to sell, then you sell. It’s true that aAs the bank rates increase, investors get more anxious and some are making the decision to off-load their investment property. It’s still early yet in the fall market cycle, so we’ll have to wait and see if all the extra product gets absorbed by the buyers that are in the market. Considering the number of days that properties are staying on the market, we may have to wait a few weeks before the sales start being recorded.

In August, properties were staying on the market considerably longer than they were earlier in the year. Sometimes a property will be on the market for well over 30 days, compared to about two weeks at the peak. Many properties are lingering longer.

Even with this happening, with the exception of detached homes, prices are holding steadfast. Last month, semis and towns were selling above list, but detached homes were selling under asking. As for condos, the average price was down 1.8% year-over-year, but as that translates into $12,391, it’s not a significant drop.

So, although people are trying to get a deal right now and coming in with offers lower than the asking price, realtors are best to advise sellers not to be offended, it’s the state of the market.

From renter to buyer? 

Last month’s blog discussed the risks associated with selling a tenanted property. But here’s an interesting twist: I was recently speaking with a mortgage broker I know quite well. She mentioned that tenants have been reaching out to her because their landlords are thinking about selling the unit they’re renting. Some landlords are giving their tenants the option to buy the property first before selling it to someone else, which I think is a great idea!

I’d certainly advise an investor to talk to their tenant first if they were looking to sell – and if it’s a fair price, then why not?

Of course, today’s mortgage rates are the main factor affecting the slowdown in the market, but if you’re considering a move, you don’t necessarily have to lose the great interest rate you’re currently paying. Contact your mortgage broker to see if you can port your mortgage to another property. This would result in a blended mortgage. You’ll continue to pay the current rate on the outstanding amount and you’ll only be paying today’s rates on the difference, which could average out to about 4%. Not bad in a market where new mortgages are anywhere from 5.75% to 7%.

I also recommend contacting your mortgage broker if you’re looking to make a purchase before the end of the year. Chances are there will be another rate increase and so anybody looking to buy in the next few months should strongly consider being pre-approved and locking in at today’s rates.

If you have any questions about the market or are curious about what your home is currently worth, please get in touch!

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September’s Newsletter: TO’s Best Happy Hours – September Events – Riding the Rate Waves: Condo Investors Navigate Selling Amidst Mortgage Hikes

Summer may be coming to an end but what better a time to embrace the vibrancy of fall by enjoying an action packed month of festivals. Toronto is buzzing with spectacular events! There’s so much to do that you won’t even have time to reminisce about summer days gone by. If you’re looking to slow down the pace a bit, September is also the perfect time to check out one or more of the city’s best happy hours listed below!

Toronto’s real estate market continues to be in flux due to higher borrowing costs and uncertainty about the economy. Maybe not so surprising, there were more listings available this past August than in August 2022. Interestingly, prices are still holding fairly steady. All of this is an indication that people are looking to sell but are not dropping the asking price out of desperation.

The announcement by the Bank of Canada to hold rate steady is definitely a good sign. The next rate announcement isn’t until the end of October which means that mortgage rates will be stable during the mid portion of the fall market. I’m hopeful this adds to consumer confidence and fuels the market enough to maintain a steady pace.

Click here for the full newsletter

 
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Toronto’s September Spectacular: A Guide to Exciting Events and Happenings!

TIFF (September 7 to 17)

The eagerly anticipated 48th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is poised to grace screens from September 7 to 17, 2023. In an exciting revelation, TIFF has unveiled its decision to rebrand the acclaimed Contemporary World Cinema stream as “Centrepiece.”


Taste of The Kingsway (September 8-10)

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Kingsway BIA with an even bigger and more spectacular Taste of The Kingsway. From September 8-10, enjoy three unforgettable days of food, music, family entertainment, contests, and shows.


Toronto Ukrainian Festival (September 15 – 17)

The Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival welcomes you to come and enjoy everything the Ukrainian culture has to offer. Discover Ukrainian culture in Canada and share the Ukrainian spirit at North America’s largest Ukrainian Street Festival.


Toronto Waterfront Festival (September 16-17)

The Toronto Waterfront Festival is back with the World’s Largest Rubber Duck from September 16-17. Don’t miss the 6-story, 30,000-pound Mama Duck at 7 Queens Quay East. Enjoy on-land and on-water activities, cultural experiences, giveaways, and local food trucks from 11am to 8pm each day at the Billy Bishop Airport Picnic Lounge.


Roncesvalles Polish Festival (September 16 & 17)

Come celebrate Roncesvalles Village, and the unique heritage of this neighbourhood, at our weekend Roncesvalles Polish Festival. Coming this September 16 & 17, 2023, and building on the long history of the Roncesvalles Polish Festival, which include fan favourites, like Polka and pierogi, in conjunction with a fresh focus to celebrate a broader range of local artists, musicians and, of course, food.


AsialiciousTO 2023 ( September 16 — October 1)

AsialiciousTO is Toronto’s premier Asian food campaign program, showcasing diverse and delicious cuisines of Asia. Organized by the Federation of Asian Canadians Toronto (FACT), this program seeks to promote cross-cultural understanding and community engagement, while support the growth of Toronto’s thriving Asian food scene.

 

Just For Laughs Toronto (September 21 -30)

Get set to laugh out loud as Just For Laughs showcases top comedy stars on some of Toronto’s biggest stages!

Halloween Haunt returns to Canada’s Wonderland (September 22 to October 29)

This fall, Halloween Haunt returns to Canada’s Wonderland on select nights Sept. 22 to Oct. 29 with a sinister transformation, turning the theme park into a scream park filled with Halloween attractions that offer unforgettable thrills and unspeakable horror. Immerse yourself in the nightmare of Haunt, with eight mazes, terrifying scare zones, hundreds of monsters, thrilling night rides and amazing live entertainment including the return of the Day of the Dead Festival.


Queen West Art Crawl Festival (September 23-24)

The Queen West Art Crawl Festival is a yearly event spanning 2 days in person and 7 days online. It celebrates Queen Street West by spotlighting the artists, artisans, craftspeople, community groups, and residents who form the vibrant essence of this unique Toronto neighborhood. This year, they are reintroducing the online exhibit within their Virtual Park for artists, artisans, patrons, and performers. Additionally, they’re excited to resume the live festival at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

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Riding the Rate Waves: Condo Investors Navigate Selling Amidst Mortgage Hikes

Ever since this article came out in the Star, I’ve been thinking about my clients who are investors.

In a nutshell, the article explains that more and more real estate investors are leaving Toronto’s market due to rising interest rates resulting in an increase of new listings. Investors who purchased properties from 2020 to 2022 at low variable interest rates are now selling due to tripled mortgage rates. Even those who bought with fixed rates and are renewing their mortgages may be considering getting out of the market. This trend is expected to continue over the next year as interest rates remain high, leading to more investor exits from the market and impacting rental stock and property availability.

It’s true that there are more condos coming onto the market, but I for one am certainly NOT concerned that the market is going to get flooded in the very near future. Many recent investors will have opted for a fixed-rate mortgage, which means their payments won’t be affected until their mortgage comes up for renewal any time between 2025 and 2027, and who knows where interest rates will be then?

But for those who opted for a variable-rate mortgage, how do you deal with the increased payments?

It depends on the situation. Sometimes you have to accept short term pain for long term gain, and in some cases it may be worth losing money each month knowing that the value of the unit will continue to increase. While there are no guarantees that the market is going to grow in the future, history has always shown that it does.

I ask questions of clients considering selling to make sure they’re not panicking.

  • What plans do they have for the money that they’re going to be getting from the sale? Do they need that money or is the decision solely based on monthly output?
  • Have they spoken with their accountant to discuss the capital gains implications?
  • Its important to consider what they paid for the unit and give them an estimate of what it would sell for. It’s important to also discuss if they can imagine feeling regret over selling it. Sometimes selling is the right decision if it would just alleviate an immense amount of stress…. if the stress is short term and there are other options to make up for the shortfall then maybe it’s not the right decision to sell.
  • And finally, I ask about who’s living there now and whether they have considered the risks associated with selling a tenanted property.

The last question is key – a landlord can legally terminate a tenancy if they, or a family member, are moving into the unit, or they are selling the unit and the buyer will be moving in, but there are risks involved with this scenario.

If you are selling a unit with a tenancy in place and you ask the tenant to leave because the new buyer warrants they will be moving in and in fact the new buyer doesn’t move in, but signs on a new tenant, your current tenant can lodge a complaint. If this happens, you as the landlord can be fined by the government for up to $25,000.

The sale of a tenanted property can get complicated if a tenant refuses to leave, because the agreement of purchase and sale states that the unit will be vacant upon possession. Check out what happened to this couple.

The proper procedure, once an agreement of purchase and sale has been signed, is for the owner to file an N12, giving them 60 days notice from he end of a pay period to leave. One must follow the protocols to provide notice to the tenant exactly as stipulated by the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB).

Most tenants will leave willingly, but not all. If a tenant doesn’t leave, they have to be evicted and this can take months because of the backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Most lawyers would say, if you’ve got a tenant, pay them what they want to get them out before the property is put up for sale. That’s the lowest risk. You may be eating a couple of months’ rent, but the property will sell faster because you’ve eliminated the complications. If an investor is buying it, they’ll be happy to bring in their own tenant at market rent. One important caveat: if the place you’re selling was completed after November 15, 2018, rent control rules don’t apply.

If it was completed before that date, you can only raise the rent according to the government. But after, the landlord has a right to raise the rent as much as they want.

If you have any questions about investment properties, or anything else real estate related, please get in touch!

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We are well into August and it may seem like our summer is almost at its end but, before we break out our sweaters and start sipping on those pumpkin spice lattes, there’s still so much left to do in order to make the most of your remaining summer days! Have a staycation and enjoy some of the most stunning places in Ontario before summer winds down or give your taste buds a treat and try out some of Toronto’s hot new restaurants. There are a few ideas below on how to make the dog days of summer “sit pretty” in your memory bank.

In July, across the board, the average home prices were up compared with last year. This is an excellent sign that people are adjusting to higher mortgage rates. Interestingly, the number of sales of detached homes and condos were up year-over-year; sales of semis and towns were down. Any upward trend in sales and pricing is good news. We’ll see if this continues into the fall as the Bank of Canada is set to make another rate announcement in September. Another rate hike could definitely affect the pace of the fall market, depending on if ti actually happens or not.

Click here for the full newsletter

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Toronto’s August Extravaganza: Unmissable Events to Ignite Your Summer Spirit!

Scarborough Rib Fest (August 3rd-7th)

Enjoy delicious ribs, hot dogs, french fries, corn on the cob and more… Midway rides, Creative designs by crafters and vendors, All day beer garden and more!

SummerWorks Performance Festival (August 3rd-13th)

The 2023 SummerWorks Performance Festival will feature an eclectic mix of programming in a multitude of formats, including theatre, dance, and sound/music performances, sensorial experiences, site-responsive activations, and community gatherings. The Festival is presented in both the East and West ends of Toronto at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum, and The Theatre Centre from August 3 – August 13, 2023.

Toronto Food Truck Festival (August 4th-7th)

Woodbine Park has never tasted this delicious before. Back for another year, The Toronto Food Truck Festival is serving up some real must-eats! As always, admission is free and there’s something for everyone. Entertain yourself with some of Toronto’s best local talent, participate in our live-eating challenges and enjoy a cold beer!

Taste Of India Food Festival (August 4th-5th)

Taste of India is the largest Indian Food Festival in North America. Witnessing a footfall of whoopin 10,000 + attendees, Taste of India is an yearly event taking place in the month of August.

Boots And Hearts (August 10th-13th)

Boots & Hearts Music Festival is Canada’s largest country music festival, held annually in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds. This year we see headliners such as Tim McGraw, Nickelback and Keith Urban.

Taste of the Danforth (August 11th-13th)

Mark your calendars for August 11-13, and join us for an unforgettable weekend brimming with delectable cuisine and entertainment. Immerse yourself in a vibrant celebration of the diverse cultures that thrive along the Danforth, where you can savour a culinary journey unlike any other. From savoury street eats to delicious dessert creations, our festival promises to be a delight for all! 

But Taste of the Danforth isn’t just about food—it’s an experience for the entire family! Join us for a festival that showcases the fusion of flavours and cultures of our beloved Danforth businesses.

The CNE (August 18th-September 4th)

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is Canada’s largest community event and one of the top agricultural fairs in North America. Founded in 1879 as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, the CNE is a not-for-profit organization that has enjoyed a distinguished history as a showcase of the nation. People came to experience the latest innovations in technology and commercial products, to enjoy the popular entertainers of the time, and to engage in a collective community celebration.

Japan Fest (August 19th-20th)

Japan Festival CANADA has been hosted in one of the multicultural countries in the world, Canada, to introduce and promote genuine Japanese food, culture and technologies.

After holding our Festival virtually in 2020 and 2021, we were thrilled to host a successful return to our in-person festival with Japan Festival CANADA 2022.

We are now once again planning our in-person festival for Japan Festival CANADA 2023.

Please continue to monitor this page and our social media channels for updates regarding programming.

The concept of Japan Festival CANADA is to contribute in further success of establishing Canada and Japan Diplomatic Relations. Since the first year event in 2016, Japan Festival CANADA has been hosted annually in the summer.

Enjoy Some Great Live Music

Summers in Toronto are music season! From Matchbox 20 to Queens of the Stone Age, get your rock on this August.

Escape The Heat With Some Great Movies Coming To Netflix Canada

As the warm weather continues, beat the heat with these great new additions to Netflix Canada in August.

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Condo Sales Surge Amidst Looming Rate Hike: Is Now the Time to Invest?

With the exception of your friendly neighbourhood real estate agent, the market isn’t generally at the forefront of people’s minds when we are enjoying steamy summer weather. That’s especially true now that the world has opened up and we are travelling again.

There is definitely a summer slowdown happening with fewer showings being booked and properties sitting on the market for longer. It’s nothing unusual. The housing market has also slowed from the spring peak, but that’s more of a seasonal adjustment. It may be coincidental but the drop in activity started when the most recent rate hike was announced, which also coincided with the end of the spring season. Speculations about rate hikes always result in potential buyers being in a “wait and see” frame of mind, and the rumblings about another hike in September, have kept activity low.

What is unusual is that, despite buyer hesitancy, I am seeing more listings coming onto the market at a time when traditionally, there are fewer new listings. I think that people were shaken by the latest rate hike and are thinking ‘Jeepers, I better sell now before the next rate increase comes.”

Unfortunately, that rate hike is already being talked about, so they are probably too late to capitalize.

Condo sales are up considerably compared to 2022, with an average price decrease of $25,000. Whether the trend toward lower prices continues remains to be seen. Despite higher mortgage payments, people are not yet highly motivated to sell. Of course, that could change in the next year or so when people who took out a mortgage in 2020 at 2.5% are faced with a renewal at 6.19%. For reference, that rate difference would add about $1,000 per month to a $500,000 mortgage.

Regardless of whether the Bank of Canada raises interest rates, I think we’ll be in for a slower fall. Inflation is hitting all sectors, which makes the cost of living higher across the board. Even a small percentage increase has a big impact on monthly payments and budgeting.

That said, part of my job is to identify where the opportunities are. It is a good time to be considering investing in an income property, especially if you have cash on hand. Don’t let anyone try to make you believe differently. One thing to keep in mind is that to break even, you’d have to put down about 50% of the purchase price. Even with rents as high as they are, which is about $2500 for the average one-bedroom apartment and $3200 for the average two-bedroom unit, it’s difficult to make the numbers make sense with only 10-20% down.

Will there be deals to be had? Right now, I’m not seeing many people eager to sell but, as mortgages come up for renewal, there could be some flexibility when it comes to pricing. I certainly don’t think there will be a major price drop but considering the emotionality & impulsivity around some people’s money related, decision making, there definitely could be some good entry points for investors who are poised for action.

Eventually over the years, interest rates will come down and you’ll make money on your investment when you sell it. Here’s a guide to investment properties I wrote in 2021, and one on financing.

If you’re interested in gaining further knowledge about investment properties, please get in touch.

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July’s Newsletter: 39 Essential Patios – Historic Venue Reopening – Buying a House or Condo: What Could Go Wrong? (Part II)

One of Toronto’s favourite summer pastimes is hanging out on a patio, but not all patios are created equal! Thankfully Toronto has enough rooftop and backyard patios to suit everyone’s needs and you’ll find a list of them below. Also included is a selection of great summer events to enjoy this month and Part-2 of a blog post related to what can go wrong when buying a house or condo.

The numbers are out for June sales and the news is mixed. Sales in the GTA were up by 16.5% compared to June 2022, despite fewer listings, resulting in an average selling price up by 3.2%. However, both the number of sales and the average price were down compared to May 2023. Toronto’s east end has proven to be the busiest part of the city with properties receiving, on average, between 105% and 113% of asking.

The good news is that Toronto’s market is incredibly resilient and despite higher interest rates buyers are still entering the market. Though the Bank of Canada raised the key interest rate by another .25, we are unlikely to feel the results for several months.

Click here for the full newsletter

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Toronto Events For July – Happy Canada Day and Happy Summer!

Canada Day At Downsview Park (July 1st)

We can’t wait for you to join us on Canada Day, July 1 for our annual festival! See you at the Festival Terrace!

We’ll have live entertainment, games for kids, inflatables, vendors and so much more! All for FREE. So, bring your friends, family and neighbours out for an amazing afternoon and evening.

Did we mention that there’ll be fireworks and food trucks too?

Toronto Outdoor Art Fest (July 7th-9th) 

Toronto Outdoor Art Fair (TOAF) is the charitable non-profit organization behind Canada’s largest and longest-running annual contemporary art fair. Established in 1961 to connect Canadian artists directly to the public, TOAF showcases 400+ emerging and established visual artists, including painters, photographers, sculptors and artists working in ceramics, textiles, jewellery and more. The event brings together 150,000 art lovers and enthusiasts who spend over 2 million dollars on art during the Fair. This free public event takes place every July – rain or shine – at Nathan Phillips Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. The Fair offers something for everyone: talks, tours, digital studio visits, curated collections, kids workshops, live painting, dance, music, art installations and food and drink experiences.

WineFest (July 7th-9th)

An annual 3-day event celebrating the city’s buzzing wine culture with a chance to try wines from all around the world.

AfroFest (July 7th-9th)

AFROFEST is the largest free African Music Festival in North America.Through our programming over the years, AFROFEST has become one of the most important African cultural organizations in Canada. We present multicultural events and initiatives that aim at celebrating the beauty and diversity of African cultural heritage and reducing or eliminating anti-Black racism in Canada.Key Points About AFROFEST 2023: 

Movies Under The Stars (July 11th-August 31st)

Movies Under the Stars returns to Downsview Park this year! Our 7th annual movie program will be taking place by the lake. 

Movies Under the Stars 2023 Schedule:

Tuesday, July 11 – The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Thursday, July 27 – Top Gun: Maverick

Wednesday, August 9 – Strange World

Friday, August 18 – Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Thursday, August 31 – Nostalgia Night (Stay tuned for more details on this special night where you get to vote for your favourite 80s movie!)

Toronto Honda Indy (July 14th-16th)

Start your engines and get ready to watch cars rip around the track at the return of the Honda Indy!

The Honda Indy Toronto features a 2.84 km (1.755 mile), 11-turn temporary street course located in downtown Toronto, Ontario. The track is constructed throughout and around Exhibition Place grounds and utilizes Lake Shore Boulevard as the backstretch.

Taste Of The Middle East (July 14th-16th)

Through our events and programs, we let Toronto’s diversity shine.  

We allow for newcomers to maintain a connection to their own culture &  to learn more about new ones.  We allow youth to feel pride in their own heritage and to feel like they belong.  We increase awareness about the importance of protecting culture and diversity.

From culture to dance to music to food, you can explore and taste the middle east at this great event.

BrazilFest (July 21st-23rd)

Calling all culture enthusiasts, music lovers, and foodies! Experience the rich colors, captivating rhythms, and mouthwatering flavors of Brazil at BrazilFest 2023. From July 21st to 23rd, prepare for a weekend of non-stop festivities that will leave you mesmerized.

Start the celebration on Friday, July 21st, at THE AXIS CLUB with an unforgettable night of Brazilianmusic and dance. Then, on Saturday and Sunday, July 22nd-23rd, head over to Earlscourt Park for a lively celebration of Brazilian culture. Rain or shine, we guarantee an incredible experience for the whole family.

Indulge in authentic Brazilian cuisine, from savory feijoada to sweet brigadeiros, and let your taste buds savor the flavors of Brazil. Connect with fellow festival-goers, soak up the lively atmosphere, and make lasting memories at BrazilFest 2023. This is your chance to travel to Brazil without leaving Toronto!

OssFest (July 22nd)

OssFest returns for its 6th edition of a pedestrian take over of the Ossington Strip between Dundas St W and Queen St W.

The day will start of with a health and wellness feature in the morning, followed by artisans and local businesses showcasing their goods all day.

OssFest will have over 25 extended patios alongside music and entertainment programming all day and into the evening.

It is family friendly, dog friendly, and is a fantastic way to celebrate the neighbourhood and Toronto! And people talk about it all year, excited for the next.

Enjoy Some Great Live Music

Summers in Toronto are music season! From Weezer to Billy Talent to Beyonce there is something for everyone this July.

Escape The Heat With Some Great Movies Coming To Netflix Canada

As the warm weather starts to smother us, beat the heat with these great new additions to Netflix Canada in July.

Explore A Local Museum

Did you know that you can explore Toronto’s history for free all year round? Take a tour of one of these museums and beat the heat this summer.

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Buying a House or Condo: What Could Go Wrong? (Part II)

Welcome to part two about what can go wrong when you’re buying a house. If you haven’t read part one, click here.

Among the many benefits of using a seasoned realtor like myself is that not only do I know when something doesn’t feel quite right, I know the questions that need to be asked in order to prevent problems from even occurring. Let’s have a look at some of the more unusual occurrences and how they can be thwarted.

No Vacant Possession!

It should be obvious that, unless otherwise agreed to, sellers are required to move out of the house on or before the day of closing…. but to be super clear, it is mentioned on Page 1 of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale under the clause titled CLOSING DATE that vacant possession is to be provided.

And yet, it happens, on occasion, that the sellers don’t move out in time… or if they have moved out, have left the property in a terrible state of disarray.

Very early in my career, I had a buyer attempt to move in to their new home, but the seller hadn’t moved out. It took them three days to move, and when they did, the place was completely upside down. It was so bad that I hired cleaners to come in and it took an entire day to bring it to a liveable condition.

How can you prevent these situations from happening? Make sure you have at least two buyer access visits in your agreement. Three would be better, but two at a minimum. At the first visit, it’s fairly simple to gauge whether someone is in the process of moving. If you make the last visit close to closing, perhaps even the day before, then you’ll know for sure if the seller has already moved or at least is intending to move out.

Booking your last buyer visit allows you to be sure that the home is vacant, clean, and that there’s no damage. It’s rare that people move out on the day of closing, so if you come for your last visit and if you see the seller has moved out and caused damage, you can do what’s called a holdback. A holdback is where your lawyer holds back a certain amount of money in order to ensure repairs or cleaning are paid for by the seller. It’s not unusual, but it’s rarely required.

Unpaid Taxes

The vacancy tax that was recently implemented by the city of Toronto and, yearly, is every property owner’s responsibility to declare whether the home was or was not vacant for more than 6 months out of the previous year. If the property was vacant, the seller is required to pay a vacancy tax to the city. This tax, if not paid by the seller, gets passed on to the buyer. If the tax hasn’t been dealt with or paid by the seller, there can be a lien on the property the buyer has to pay once they are the new owner. As a buyer, you want to ensure that the declaration has been made or that it is stipulated in the agreement that the balance owing will be paid by the seller.

As a buyer, you should also know if the seller is a non-resident, especially if the unit has been vacant for some time, because the seller will owe tax. And if they’re not Canadian citizens, they may not have a social insurance or tax number, which requires an application to the CRA, and that takes time.

There is a clause in the pre-printed portion of the standard agreement of Purchase and Sale in which the seller declares that they are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident but it’s best to know for sure and ask, so there’s no confusion or hold up at the time of closing.

If you don’t do your homework, you could be on the hook to pay either of the above taxes. You can always appeal, but it’s a hassle… so, here’s how you troubleshoot this: most brokerages provide a schedule B to attach to your offer and this should have a clause regarding the vacancy tax. As a realtor, I have this clause ready to use, regardless.

Construction and Open Permits

When you buy a house that has obviously been substantially renovated, you need to make sure that the permits are closed and the sellers can produce the documentation showing the city’s final approval. If there are open permits, the deal can’t close. The permits are closed once a city inspector signs off on the work.

I had a client who had done some structural work to their house. The city came to inspect it, so they closed up the ceiling. It wasn’t until they went to sell the house that they learned the permit was never actually closed. The city then deemed it wasn’t done properly, so the seller had to re-do the structural work and get the permits closed. This all had to be done in a 60 day window of time and over the holidays. As a seller, make sure that any open permits are closed. As a buyer, you want to make sure you’re protected so it’s best to add a clause into an agreement that has the seller warranting all renovations, if requiring permits, were done with a permit and that those permits have been closed. If the work is less than 5 years old, you can actually visit the city website to see open permits.

Predicting the Unpredictable

With the decades of experience I’ve racked up, it’s very hard to surprise me… but it still happens! Having a solid list of clauses to add to any agreement is your best defence to making sure there are no surprises (or as few as possible) when buying or selling.

In every agreement of purchase and sale, there’s a clause that states that the house is being delivered in the state in which the buyer saw it – and if there’s a substantial difference the buyer has a right to get out of the agreement. Minor discrepancies sometimes allow for a renegotiation of the terms.

Thankfully, Toronto sees very few tornados and other natural disasters, but basements can flood. I’ve been involved in some serious touch and go situations, but nothing has ever been so bad that the sale hasn’t closed. Having enough insurance can help smooth out any situation.

If you have any questions about the real estate market, please get in touch!

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June’s Newsletter: TO’s Epic Sushi Hand Rolls – City Pics From the ’30s – Buying Your First Place? Here’s What You Need to Know

It’s June, and Toronto is buzzing! Between Taste of Little Italy, farmers markets, Luminato, and Pride, there is an abundance of things to see and do! You’ll find my picks for what’s happening in the city below. I’m looking forward to catching a couple of this year’s summer ribfests, riding my bike along some of Toronto’s many trails and watching the sunsets from the hill at Riverdale Park along Broadview.

In response to a robust economy and consumer spending, the Bank of Canada raised its overnight rate to 4.75%, which is the highest it’s been since April, 2001. Whether this cools the market remains to be seen. Last month, sales across the GTA were up by 24.7% compared to May 2022, and new listings were down by 18.7%. This resulted in a tighter market for buyers, pushing prices up month-over-month. The biggest change can be seen in the average price of a detached home in Toronto, which was up by over $155K compared to April. At $1,913,132, it’s only a hair under the prices being paid a year ago.

If you know someone who’s thinking about buying their first place, please forward this email to them. Below, you’ll find my blog post with information about what they need to know – and the incentives available.

Click here for the full newsletter

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