Monday, September 29, 2014

The top 4 things people pay more to live near

Every homebuyer knows the mantra “location, location, location”. But location, of course, is a relative word. Being located next to a prison or a land fill won’t do much for your home’s resale value. But there are a select few things that people will always pay more to live by. Mountains and oceans are two of them, but since those aren’t exactly nearby for most in the country, here are four things that everyone should look out for....

Rapid transit 

Homebuyers will fork over extra cash to live near efficient public transport. With real-estate prices in urban centres climbing alongside the cost of gas, it’s easy to see why. Then there are hard-to-find parking spots, steep rates for parking lots, and headache-inducing traffic jams.

“The number one thing people will pay for is walkability to a subway station,” says John S. Andrew, director of the Queen’s Real Estate Roundtable at Queen’s University. “In Toronto you can draw concentric circles around subway stations and you can see the further you move, the lower the property values are. It’s not nearly as true with streetcar lines or bus lines, because they’re slow. But if you’re three blocks from Eglinton station, that’s like gold.

“Quality of life comes without spending two hours on the 401,” he adds.

 It’s not just in Toronto where homebuyers are willing to ante up for rapid transit.

“The feature that adds the most value to the home is nearness to rapid transit,” says Melanie Reuter, director of research at the Real Estate Investment Network. “That’s been backed up by research throughout North America and in the U.K., in Calgary, Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, and Surrey. You can see by research that for homes within walking distance—which used to be 500 to 800 metres but… now is considered to be within a km — people will pay 10 to 15 percent more for a home and 10 to 15 percent more rent.”

In London, a home within 500 metres of a train or tube station is typically valued about $75,500 higher than an identical home just 1,000 metres further away, according to Nationwide, a financial institution in the UK.

Improved access to city centres drives real estate demand too. “As with rapid transit, accessibility to major highway and highway improvements proved to be a major determinant for increased property values in all studies,” REIN’s recent Gateway Transportation Effect report found. Studies show that, as highway networks are created and existing corridors to the CBD (Central Business District) are improved, the value of real estate in the area increases.”

Homebuyers don’t want to be too close to train or subway stations, however. There are negative effects such as nuisance, property crime, noise, and increased traffic on properties located in the immediate vicinity of many stations, the REIN report notes.

Shops, services, and restaurants 

Imagine being able to stroll to coffee shops, yoga studios, restaurants, bank machines, bars, and doctors’ offices: that walkability is worth a few extra bucks.

“People love to be able to walk to shopping,” Andrew says. “It probably doesn’t extend to major grocery shopping but it does to things like small grocery stores where they can pick up a few things on their way home from work, or even clothes shopping. It’s ‘I love that I don’t have to take my car on a Saturday morning,’ especially in a bigger city. That really contributes to a healthy community, where people are out walking around; it’s a safer community and a more vibrant community.”

Kids’ activities 

Obviously this doesn’t apply to the kid-less, but for young families or those planning on starting one, being situated near things like community centres and sports fields is a huge plus.

“Being able to have close access to kids’ activities is something a lot of people don’t really think about, but when you ask people who have young kids how they spend their time, they’ll talk about taking them to ballet or to hockey, and that all eats up a lot of time,” Andrew says. “Being in a neighbourhood where there’s a hockey arena or music classes, all these things you’re taking your kids, adds tremendous quality of life not when you’re not spending the entire weekend or two nights a week ferrying kids too far.”

Schools 

 Being near a “good” school is appealing to families or future parents, with real-estate ads often including this feature in glowing property write-ups

A study by Lloyds Bank found that in England, being near top-rated schools added a premium of nearly $38,000 to a home’s sale price.

This feature may not be quite as clear cut as the others, however.

“Increasingly, parents are driving their kids to school or kids are in private school, so being in the immediate neighbourhood of a good school probably isn’t as critically important as it once was,” Andrew says. “It becomes in every homeowner’s best interest to continue to perpetuate this myth that there’s this amazing school when that information could be 15 or 20 years out of date.”

And just as being too close to a subway station can have its problems, so too can being too near a secondary school.

“Anecdotally, being near a school is very appealing to people but there’s a caveat: you don’t necessarily want to buy a home along the pathway to high school or directly across from high school,” Reuter says. “That’s where petty crime may happen or litter or graffiti or maybe break-ins into cars. That’s something a homeowner may want to be cognizant of.”


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Canada housing market shows no sign of slowing as prices rise for 9th month



Canadian home prices rose in August and the pace of 12-month home price appreciation accelerated, a report showed on Friday, suggesting robust demand for housing is carrying through to the second half of the year.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed national home prices rose 0.8% last month, exceeding the historical average for August.

Prices were up 5.0% from a year earlier, a pickup from July’s 4.9% price gain.

August was the ninth month in a row in which the composite index did not fall. The price increases, on top of robust housing starts data in the spring and summer, have surprised economists who have been calling for a slowdown in Canada’s long housing boom.

David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said the report suggests the momentum in the housing market has continued into the second half of the year.

“While a gradual drift higher in interest rates should limit the degree to which housing can continue to increase, a persistent low rate environment will prevent a more pronounced correction,” Tulk said in a research note.

“The housing market will also remain on the Bank of Canada’s radar and the strength we have seen buttresses the case to resume the withdrawal of stimulus once the improved international backdrop has provided a sufficient lift to net exports,” he added.

Canada’s central bank is not expected to raise rates until the second half of 2015.

Canada escaped the U.S. housing crash that accompanied the 2008-09 financial crisis, and home prices have risen sharply, if not steadily, over the past five years despite moves by the federal government to tighten mortgage lending rules.

The Teranet data showed prices rose in August from the month before in 10 out of 11 cities, led by a 1.8% gain in Winnipeg, a 1.5% gain in Ottawa and a 1.2% rise in Toronto.

Prices were down 0.7% in Montreal.

Year-over-year price gains were also seen in 10 of the 11 cities surveyed.

Compared with a year earlier, prices were up 7.9% in Calgary, 4.5% in Edmonton, 0.9% in Halifax, 6.7% in Hamilton, 1.1% in Montreal, 1.2% in Ottawa, 6.7% in Toronto, 6.1% in Vancouver, 2.1% in Victoria and 1.9% in Winnipeg.

Prices compared with a year earlier were down 0.1% in Quebec City.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top 10 most livable cities include Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto

Three Canadian cities are ranked in the top 10 of The Economist's annual ranking of the world's "most livable" cities.

Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary are ranked third, fourth and fifth (tied with Adelaide, Australia), respectively, on the distinguished magazine's annual ranking of 140 cities.

The magazine says its ranking "assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions" based on five categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

Melbourne, Australia, was deemed the most livable city, followed by Vienna. Vancouver and Toronto are a close third and fourth, respectively, while Calgary is tied for fifth with Adelaide.

The top 10 cities are as follows:
  • Melbourne.
  • Vienna.
  • Vancouver.
  • Toronto.
  • Calgary (tied).
  • Adelaide​ (tied).
  • Sydney​.
  • Helsinki.
  • Perth, Australia.
  • Auckland.
In general, the ranking shows a broad trend that mid-sized cities in wealthy countries with low population densities score well. Seven of the top 10 cities on the list are in Australia or Canada, for example.

"This can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure," the report says.

Vancouver scored so well in part because of its good score on crime issues.
"Vancouver saw a record low number of murders in 2013, after a decade-long decline that pushed homicide rates down to 1.5 per 100,000 of population in 2012.," the report notes.

Not surprisingly, cities currently experiencing violent uprisings were clustered at the bottom. Kyiv was ranked 124th, Tripoli was in 132nd place, and Damascas was in last place.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Be your own boss.....only $59,000

Amazing Opportunity. Independent, Well Established Steady Business Located In Busy Plaza With Pizza, Subway Store & Well Known Mexican Restaurant. Very Profitable With Good Margins. Excellent Lease. Do Not Miss This Opportunity. No Franchise.





Saturday, July 26, 2014

New Listing - Rarely Offered 2 Bdrm/2 Bath + Solarium

Live The Good Life In This Stunning, Rarely Offered 2 Bdrm/2 Bath + Solarium Condo. Gleaming Laminate Floors Throughout. Large Master Bdrm With 4Pc Ensuite With Soaker Tub And Walk-In Closet. Ensuite Laundry. Tons Of Storage Space. Stainless Steel Appliances, Resort Style Living With Indoor Swimming Pool, Whirlpool, Sauna, Exercise Room, Tennis Court, Game Room. Fantastic Location - Steps To Schools, Shopping, Park, T.T.C. Min. To 401 And Go Station








Friday, July 25, 2014

New Listing - Stunning 3 Bdrm Townhouse

Beautiful, Bright And Spacious 3 Bdrm/ 3Bath Townhome In The Heart Of Whitby. Large Kitchen With Breakfast Area, Gleaming Hardwood Floor In Dining, Living & Family Room, Large Master Bdrm With 3-Pc Ensuite & Walk-In Closet. Convenient Access To Garage. Ground Level Family Room With Walkout To Private Backyard With Deck. Perfect For Summer Entertaining. Move Right In. Fantastic Location- Close To Schools, Shops, Parks, Medical. Only Minutes To 401









Sunday, July 13, 2014

CMHC announces more mortgage insurance changes

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) has discontinued its mortgage loan insurance for the financing of multi-unit condominium construction.

The federal housing agency also announced that it has established maximum house prices, amortization periods and debt servicing ratios for its low-ratio transactional mortgage loan insurance product, effective July 31.

CMHC says, “The changes are a business decision designed to increase market discipline in residential lending while reducing taxpayers’ exposure to the housing sector through CMHC. They are not changes to the government’s mortgage loan insurance parameters and do not apply to private mortgage insurers’ products and services.”

CMHC introduced its multi-unit condominium construction product in 2010 to assist developers to access insured financing during the construction phase of condominium projects. It says that demand for the product has been low and that CMHC has not provided any insurance for multi-unit condominium construction since 2011.

The agency says its insurance for mortgage loans to homebuyers wishing to purchase a condominium is unaffected by this change and will remain available throughout Canada.

“The changes to CMHC’s low-ratio insurance align this product with our objective to help Canadians meet their housing needs as well as government parameters for high ratio mortgage loan insurance,” says the agency.

Beginning on July 31 the maximum purchase price for low-ratio mortgage loan insurance will be $1 million. The maximum amortization will be 25 years. The maximum gross debt service (GDS) is set at 39 per cent and the maximum total debt services (TDS) will be 44 per cent.

“Loans outside the revised parameters accounted for approximately three per cent of CMHC’s total homeowner business volumes in 2013. Consequently, the changes are not expected to have a material impact on the housing market or on CMHC’s future performance,” says the agency.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

In Toronto’s housing market, ‘$2-million is the new $1-million’

Torontonians who can barely wrap their minds around a housing market where $1-million is the average price for a detached home might want to take notice of a new fast-approaching benchmark.

Try not to panic if you haven’t bought yet but the $2-million home is a growing segment of the market in Canada’s largest city.

Data released by the Toronto Real Estate Board Wednesday shows there were 461 detached home sales for more than $2-million through its Multiple listing Service system in the first five months of the year. That’s only 2.4% of all detached home sales activity for the year but the $2-million plus range has climbed 37% over the past year in the GTA.

“What you are seeing is $2-million is the new $1-million,” says Drew Laszlo, an architect in the city who has been involved in several infill projects that have fallen into the new threshold.

The strength of the $2-million-plus market comes as Toronto home prices continue to soar. TREB said Wednesday the average sale price of a home across the Greater Toronto Area reached $585,204 in May, an 8.5% increase from a year ago.

It was the best May ever for Toronto real estate sales with detached homes in the city proper reaching an average price of $943,055.

Jason Mercer, TREB’s senior manager of market analysis, cautions when it comes to the $2-million-plus market the numbers are still small so it could affect the data.

“There is a clear reason why prices have gone up. Demand is strong but the majority of people looking to purchase a home are still doing it with a mortgage,” says Mr. Mercer, citing record-low interest rates as a factor that continues to drive sales. “That leads to strong price increases because of a tight market.”

David Batori, a 25-year veteran of the industry, says part of what is happening in the market is people with those $1-million homes are selling and moving on to bigger and better houses and driving up prices.

“For $1-million, you don’t even get a bungalow in certain areas,” says Mr. Batori. “I had a client who just sold his house, he thought he would get $1-million, so he bought a $2-million home. He ended selling for $1.4-million. He told me if he knew he was going to get that much, he would have spent $2.5-million [on his new house].”

What are people getting for their $2-million? In Mr. Laszlo’s projects it usually means a brand new home on a lot about 25 feet by 120 feet with about 3,000 square feet of living space. Land prices, land transfer taxes and construction costs have dictated that $2-million figure for any builder hoping to get a 10% profit for what could be a risky venture if the market goes south. The cost of the land alone is usually $1-million.

Mr. Laszlo says the people buying the new $2-million homes are well off but hardly the super rich. “It’s a lot of doctors and lawyers,” he says.

Mr. Batori says family money continues to be a factor in the market, especially for young couples buying in the $1-million range. “Thank God for the parents and the grandparents,” he says, with a laugh.

A Vancouver credit union tried last month to put a little fact behind all the speculation that gifted money is driving the housing market.

Vancouver is long familiar with the $2-million home, in many parts of the city the median price of home has even extended far beyond that threshold. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said this month that the average price of a detached home in its catchment area reached $1,218,772 last month.

BlueShore Financial conducted an online survey of 650 of its members asking whether they’ve had a “family-financed’ mortgage. The credit union got 356 responses with 41% of those responding saying they received financial assistance from parents or family members in either the form of a loan or a gift.

“I think families are seeing that asset itself as a good investment. Real estate has gotten good returns over time,” said Chris Catliff, chief executive of BlueShore.

Mr. Catliff agrees his survey was not scientific but it does suggest the trend of family giving is only going to increase.

The same survey found 76% of people with children plan to provide some sort of assistance in the future to the children with 21% of people saying they plan to give $100,000 to $199,000.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Woodbridge Crossing - Phase II just released

Wow, the site looks amazing. Roads are paved already.......




Monday, June 30, 2014

Municipal land transfer tax costs Toronto billions

The municipal land transfer tax (MLTT) in Toronto is responsible for a massive loss of economic activity and a corresponding loss of thousands of jobs, according to new research by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

The negative impact of the tax includes: a loss of 38,278 resale home transactions; a loss of $2.3 billion in economic activity; a reduction of $1.2 billion in GDP; a loss of 14,934 full-time jobs; and a loss of $772 million in wages and salaries. The economic losses incurred by the city from the time the tax was imposed in 2008 until 2013 are summarized in a report commissioned by OREA. The study, Economic Implications of the Municipal Land Transfer Tax in Toronto, was conducted by Altus Group Economic Consulting.
“The MLTT is bad for our economy,” says Costa Poulopoulos, OREA president. “For one, it kills jobs. With an unemployment rate worse than the national rate and even that of the province as a whole, the City of Toronto could have used those jobs. It also adds to household debt and pushes the dream of home ownership even further away.”

The study shows the MLTT has cost Toronto billions in the past five years – significantly more than the annual average $270 million in revenue the city collected since 2008. The MLTT applies to purchases of Toronto properties, over and above to the provincial land transfer tax. By increasing the total expense associated with housing transactions, the tax makes buying a home in Toronto more costly. As a result, a significant number of housing transactions within Toronto did not take place, which has in turn affected Toronto’s economy.

Resale housing transactions across Ontario generate significant economic activity, including fees to professionals such as lawyers, appraisers, and REALTORS®. In addition, home buyers often purchase new appliances or furniture and often undertake renovations that employ tradespeople.

“This research proves that the MLTT is doing more harm than good where our economy is concerned,” says Poulopoulos. “It gets in the way of the economic spinoff that occurs when homes are purchased. It should be repealed in Toronto and it should never be endorsed by the provincial government for any other municipality in this province.”

By repealing the MLTT, Toronto could increase the number of housing sales by an estimated 32,216 units over the next five years, resulting in the following economic benefits for Toronto: an additional $1.9 billion in economic activity; an increase of $990 million in GDP; the creation of 12,570 new full time jobs; and the addition of $650 million in wages and salaries.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Attention First Time Buyers or Investors

Bright & Spacious, 2Bdrm Totally Renovated Unit In Demand Building. Gleaming Laminate Floors Throughout. Freshly Painted, Large New Kitchen With Breakfast Area. New Washroom, Ensuite Laundry, Large Master Bedroom. Walkout To Private Balcony From Living Room. Exceptionally Well Maintained Building With Great Security & Recreation Facilities. Resort Style Living With Indoor Pool, Gym & Sauna. Move Right In. Why Rent If You Can Own? All Utilities And Cable Tv Included In Maintenance Fee. Fantastic Location - Steps To Schools, Shopping, Park, T.T.C. Minutes To Highway



Monday, May 19, 2014

Only 3 units left in Phase I.

Wow, what an amazing last few weeks have been at Woodbridge Crossing. We have sold most of our Phase I inventory and waiting for release of Phase II. The prices start from $494,990....... no, not a typo ....... and yes, you can own a townhome in downtown Woodbridge for under $500K..... but hurry up, the prices will go up next week. We are at 8204 Kipling Ave. (just north of Hwy 7). 




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Phase 1 Over 70% Sold Out


Construction started and we are almost sold out in Phase I. Come and see us before it's too late...


Monday, March 17, 2014

Woodbridge Crossing - construction just started





Construction just started and we still offer an amazing FREE upgrades. For more information visit our New Sales Office Location: 8204 Kipling Ave. Woodbridge, Phone: 905 605 5155. Hours: Sat & Sun 11am - 5pm, Mon-Wed 1:00-7:00 Closed Thursday & Fridays


Saturday, March 15, 2014

230 Highway 7 - new listing




Take A Look And Fall In Love! Absolutely stunning, 2900 sq ft Custom Built Bungalow On 4 Acres Of Country Paradise Nestled In Sought-After Neighbourhood.  A Superb Layout  Accommodates A Sophisticated Lifestyle With Stunning Formal Rooms. Massive Family Room with Floor-To-Ceiling Stone Wood-Burning Fireplace, Huge Eat-in Gourmet Kitchen With Plenty Of Counter & Cupboard Space, Large Master Retreat With 4-Pc Ensuite and His & Her Closets. Tremendous Living Room Offers Plenty Of Natural Light Thru Wall-To-Wall Bay Windows.  Main Floor Laundry With Access To Garage & W/O To Yard. New Broadloom Thru Out.  Freshly Painted In Neutral Tones. Crown Moulding Thru Out. Enormous Recreation Room For Fun Filled Games Nights.  Walk out to huge, gorgeous private deck - The Perfect Outdoor Room For Entertaining Family & Friends. Breathtaking Million Dollar Panoramic Views. See Deer From Your Own Backyard. A True Entertainers Delight. Paved 12 Car Driveway, Newer Furnace & A/C. Minutes  To 401/407 and The City.

Here are more photos...... 230 Highway 7


Saturday, March 1, 2014

CMHC to Increase Mortgage Insurance Premiums



Following the annual review of its insurance products and capital requirements, CMHC will increase its mortgage loan insurance premiums for homeowner and 1 – 4 unit rental properties effective May 1, 2014.

The increase applies to mortgage loan insurance premiums for owner occupied, self-employed and 1-to-4 unit rental properties, including low-ratio refinance premiums. This does not apply to mortgages currently insured by CMHC.

CMHC’s capital management framework is consistent with international practices and Canadian guidelines for mortgage insurers. Increased capital targets are consistent with Canadian and international industry trends and makes the financial system more stable and resilient.

“The higher premiums reflect CMHC’s higher capital targets” said Steven Mennill, CMHC’s Vice-President, Insurance Operations. “CMHC’s capital holdings reduce Canadian taxpayers’ exposure to the housing market and contribute to the long term stability of the financial system.”

For the average Canadian homebuyer requiring CMHC insured financing, the higher premium will result in an increase of approximately $5 to their monthly mortgage payment. This is not expected to have a material impact on the housing market.

Effective May 1st, CMHC Purchase (owner occupied 1 – 4 unit) mortgage insurance premiums will increase by approximately 15%, on average, for all loan-to-value ranges.


Loan-to-Value RatioStandard Premium (Current)Standard Premium (Effective May 1st, 2014)
Up to and including 65%0.50%0.60%
Up to and including 75%0.65%0.75%
Up to and including 80%1.00%1.25%
Up to and including 85%1.75%1.80%
Up to and including 90%2.00%2.40%
Up to and including 95%2.75%3.15%
90.01% to 95% – Non-Traditional Down Payment2.90%3.35%


CMHC reviews its premiums on an annual basis and, going forward, plans to announce decisions on premiums in the first quarter of each year. The homeowner premium increase follows changes CMHC made to its portfolio insurance product earlier this year.

Backgrounder

  • Mortgage loan insurance helps protect lenders against mortgage default and enables consumers to purchase homes with a minimum down payment of 5% with interest rates comparable to those with a 20% down payment. Mortgage loan insurance is typically required by lenders when homebuyers make a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price.
  • CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium is calculated as a percentage of the loan based on the loan-to-value ratio. The premium can be paid in a single lump sum but more frequently is added to the mortgage principal and amortized over the life of the mortgage as part of regular mortgage payments.
  • CMHC reviews its premiums on an annual basis and has adjusted them several times since being commercialized in 1998. Adjustments have included both increases and decreases to the premiums.
  • CMHC’s new premium rates will be effective for new mortgage loan insurance requests submitted on or after May 1, 2014. The current mortgage loan insurance premiums will apply for applications submitted to CMHC prior to May 1, 2014, regardless of the closing date. As is normal practice, complete borrower and property details must be submitted to CMHC when requesting mortgage loan insurance.
  • The increase applies to mortgage loan insurance premiums for residential housing of 1-to-4 units. This includes owner occupied, self-employed and 1-to-4 unit rental properties, including low-ratio refinance premiums.
  • In 2013, the average CMHC insured loan at 95% loan-to-value was $248,000. Using these figures, the higher premium will result in an increase of approximately $5 to the monthly mortgage payment for the average Canadian homebuyer. This is not expected to have a material impact on the housing market.

95% Loan-to-Value


Loan Amount
$150,000$250,000$350,000$450,000
Current Premium$4,125$6,875$9,625$12,375
New Premium$4,725$7,875$11,025$14,175
Additional Premium$600$1,000$1,400$1,800
Increase to Monthly Mortgage Payment$3.00$4.98$6.99$8.98

Based on a 5 year term @ 3.49% and a 25 year amortization


85% Loan-to-Value

Loan Amount$150,000$250,000$350,000$450,000
Current Premium$2,625$4,375$6,125$7,875
New Premium$2,700$4,500$6,300$8,100
Additional Premium$75$125$175$225
Increase to Monthly Mortgage Payment$0.37$0.62$0.87$1.12

Based on a 5 year term @ 3.49% and a 25 year amortization

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Buying an Older Home

If your home is over 30 years old, your insurance company may require you to upgrade the plumbing, electrical and/or heating systems in your home prior to providing you with or renewing your homeowners insurance policy.

If you are looking to purchase an older home that has galvanized steel plumbing, 60-amp electrical service, knob and tube electrical wiring, a wood-burning stove or a fuel oil tank, make sure to factor the cost of necessary upgrades into your offering price! Your insurance representative will be able to advise you on what upgrades may need to be completed prior to obtaining homeowners insurance coverage.

Here are five things that make insurance companies nervous:
 
  1. 60amp electrical service
     
    If your electrical service is 60amp or below, your insurance company may require you to upgrade to 100amp to obtain coverage. However, they may accept a switching device such as a Load Miser that allows for the operation of only one major appliance at a time.

  2. Knob and tube wiring
     
    Many older buildings built in the 1920's or earlier were constructed with knob and tube wiring. This means that the building has no ground wire, and that the existing wire can be fragile because of its age - creating a potential safety hazard. An inspection by a certified electrician may be required to obtain insurance coverage. There is no requirement to replace knob and tube wiring except when renovating. Also, a knob tube circuit must not be extended.

    Knobtubewiring
  3. Wood burning stoves
     
    Modern wood burning stoves have been tested and approved by CSA, UL or a similar testing agency. An approval symbol and the acceptable clearances between the stove and any combustible surface are clearly marked on the back of the stove. If you cannot find the approval symbol, then your stove is likely not approved. In such a case, the insurance company may require that you remove it.
    Even if your stove is approved, you may have to have the installation approved by a Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT) technician to satisfy the insurance company. If you plan to install a wood burning stove in your home, check with your insurer in advance to find out their requirements.

  4. Fuel oil tanks
     
    Older fuel oil tanks are susceptible to leakage. If a fuel oil tank does leak, the clean up costs will be considerable (one case I heard of a cost of $60,000). Therefore, most insurance companies will only insure a fuel oil tank if it is less than 25 years old. If your tank is older than that, typically your insurer will require that it be replaced before you can obtain coverage. Also if you have an oil tank check your insurance policy to make sure you are covered.

  5. Galvanized steel pipes
     Houses built before 1950 often have galvanized steel plumbing for both supply and waste. These steel pipes rust from the inside out, resulting in reduced water pressure, slow drains and eventual leakage. As the risk of leakage is high, the pipes should be replaced as soon as possible.  


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Economic Update

Highlights from this week’s economic data:
 
• Employment in Canada rebounded by 29,000 net jobs in January, with all the job gains concentrated in full-time positions. The unemployment rate decreased to 7.0% from 7.2%.

• Canada’s trade deficit came in at $1.7 billion in December, widening from the downwardly revised Novem­ber deficit of $1.5 billion. Imports (+1.2%) advanced at a faster rate than exports (+0.9%). The 2013Q4 readings suggest that net exports will likely be a drag on real GDP growth in the fourth quarter.
 
• The Canadian dollar appreciated by almost one U.S. cent this week, after falling below 90 U.S. cents last week for the first time since August 2009. The Canadian dollar is expected to hit 85 cents U.S. by mid 2014.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Woodbridge Crossing - Amazing New Town Homes



Absolutely stunning, Luxury Townhomes In Old Woodbridge Village! Perfectly Located At Kipling Ave Just North Of Woodbridge Ave. A Private Enclave That Offers A Rich Ensemble Of 53 Architecturally Heritage Inspired Towns Featuring Luxurious Elegant Designs. Enjoy The Lifestyle Living in New And Distinctive Community Of Woodbridge Crossing, Directly Across From The Woodbridge Fairgrounds, Just Steps Away From The Village And The Market Lane Shopping Centre. Take advantage (for limited time only) of the amazing upgrades - 1 year FREE Cable TV, Internet & Home Phone, Stainless Steel Appliance Package, Central Air Conditioner, Upgraded Designer Kitchen, Hardwood Flooring, Oak staircase, 9 foot celling on second floor and garage to house door entrance. For more information visit Sales Office Location: 8204 Kipling Ave. Woodbridge, Phone: 905 605 5155 Hours: Sat & Sun 11am - 5pm, Mon-Wed 1:00-7:00 Closed Thursday & Fridays


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bank of Canada rate decision

Bank of Canada kept it’s overnight rate at 1% as expected. Inflation forecasts are lower than previously anticipated so rates will be “lower for longer”. Bank of Canada will not likely begin to raise rates until the later part of 2015. As a result of this dovish stance both the Canadian dollar and bond yields were down yesterday. A lower Canadian dollar will help with exports and the growth of the Canadian economy as a whole. Lower bond yields results in a drop of fixed mortgage rates. This benefits in qualifying clients as the 5 yr fixed rate is used as the qualifying benchmark in many instances.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why Basements Leak?



Leaking basements are a big problem. When water gets into a basement it can affect your whole house. Understanding why basements leak is the first step in preventing leaking in your basement. It can cause foundation damage and even introduce harmful mold. If you spot mold, chalky white powder, or brown stains on your concrete walls this may be an indication you have a problem. Some of the problems are due to the following:

Cracks or Holes in the Walls or Foundation

One of the most common is simply water running into the basement through the wall joints, seeping through the floor and coming in through cracks. Problems like this can be solved by a variety of waterproofing techniques.

Plugged Weeping Tiles

Sometimes basements leak because the drainage system around the house is clogged and that causes water to back up and flow into the basement. This can be solved by replacing an old weeping tile system.

Leaky Windows or Blocked Drainage Tiles in Window Wells Hydrostatic Pressure

Another common leak is through basement windows. When there is a lot of rain or snow drainage, windows can leak since they are at ground level. Installing new window wells (with proper drainage), can help to solve this problem

Hydrostatic Pressure

Ground water moves upward when the soil becomes saturated during heavy rains; pushes up from under the floor and makes its way in at the footer joint. The solution! Install an interior Pressure Relief System - connected to a sump system. Basements by nature are generally damp. Most basements require the use of a dehumidifier to rid excess moisture form the air. Moisture can be just as damaging as a leak if left untreated. Basements will leak because it is just natural. Basements are located below ground and if they are not properly waterproofed, then leaking will occur. They are more susceptible to water leaking because they are closer to water sources and at the perfect level for drainage issues. By understanding the common causes of basement leaks you can help to prevent leaks in your basement.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Basement Apartments - What's Legal?

Is it 'legal'?
 
'Legal' involves five separate issues including -
  • Do the local bylaws permit you to have a basement apartment?
  • Does the apartment comply with the fire code?
  • Does the apartment comply with basic building code requirements?
  • Does the apartment comply with basic electrical safety requirements?
  • Has the apartment been 'registered'?
**We will look at these issues more closely.  
 
Building code vs. fire code
 
The Building Code prescribes minimum requirements for the construction of buildings.
For the most part, the Building Code is a code that applies only the day the house was built. The code changes over the years, but we don't have to keep changing our houses to comply with the code. The code does not apply 'retroactively'.
 
The Fire Code is a subset of the Building Code. It prescribes construction and safety  issues as they relate to how the building is required to perform should it catch fire. A significant distinction with the fire code is that it can apply retroactively.
 

Basement retrofit
 
Now that we know that the Fire Code applies retroactively, we can see where the phrase " basement retrofit" comes from. A new Fire Code was developed that applies to basement apartments. The code applies retroactively, so all basement apartments whether existing or new must comply with the new Fire Code. All owners of homes with basement apartments were given a period of time to upgrade their homes to comply with the new Fire Code. This 'grace period' has long since passed.
 
Certificate of compliance
All basement apartments have to be inspected to verify that they are in compliance. Once this has been verified and any improvements completed, the apartment is given a 'certificate of compliance'.

 
Bylaw
 
 
   
We mention this term here to make sure that we don't confuse bylaws with building codes. Bylaw in the context of basement apartments refers to whether you are permitted to have a basement apartment in your area and any special conditions involved. Bylaws are set by municipalities to keep people from being a nuisance to their neighbours. Codes are health and safety rules to protect occupants.

 
Basement Apartments - The History
 
Prior to 1993, there was little to worry about. After 1993, a permit was required to change a home from single family to multi-family. 
In 1994, the NDP government in Ontario said that we could ignore local bylaws that prohibited second dwelling units in houses if certain conditions were met. In 1994, the province set new Fire Code rules for basement apartments. A deadline was established for all existing basement apartments to upgrade to the new fire code. Upgrading to comply with the new fire code is called a "retrofit". The owners were allowed to apply for an extension for up to two years past the deadline if they had financial or logistical obstacles. Even with the extension, the deadlines have long since passed.
In 1995, the provincial Conservative government told municipalities that they could enforce their bylaws regarding basement apartments. A grand-fathering clause says that apartments existing before November 1995 do not have to meet local bylaws.
 

The Evaluation Process
 

NEW UNITS
 
 

If you are thinking of adding a basement apartment here is the procedure -
Check the Zoning Bylaw at City Hall Buildings Division to find out if basement apartments are allowed. 

 
  • Check the Zoning Bylaw at City Hall Buildings Division to find out if basement apartments are allowed.
  • You would then apply for a building permit. Keep in mind that you will have to comply with today's building codes.
  • 

EXISTING UNITS
 

This report will focus on existing homes with a single basement apartment.

  • The first step is to check with Municipal Property Standards or the Fire Department for a Certificate of Compliance. If there is one, you are done!
  • If the unit is not registered, you need to do some more work
  • Verify that zoning bylaws permit a basement apartment. In most cases they do.
  • The next step is to have the fire department inspect the home. They will verify compliance with the fire code. This is the most daunting part of the process because any deficiencies will have to be corrected by order of the fire marshal.
  • The next step is to have the Electrical Safety Authority (which used to be called Ontario Hydro Inspection Department) inspect the electrical system. Once again, you will be required to make any improvements that are prescribed.
  • If the apartment unit passes the inspections, the unit can be registered with Municipal (Property) Standards (If not, improvements may cost $15,000 or more).

 
Four Key Elements
 
  • Fire containment.
  • Mean of egress.
  • Fire detection and alarms.
  • Electrical safety.
  • 

Let's look at each of these.
 
1. Fire Containment
 
The goal is to contain the fire in the unit that the fire started, long enough to get all of the occupants out of the house. This means that any walls, floors, ceilings and doors between units should control the fire for at least a few minutes. These components are given ' ratings' of how long they will survive a direct fire before burning through. A 30 minute
rating means that the component will control the fire for at least 30 minutes.
  
The typical requirement is a 30 minute separation between the units.
 
  • Drywall and plaster are acceptable. but suspended (T-bar type) ceilings are not.
  • The ceiling must be continuous. For example, this means that you can't have exposed joists in the furnace room - this area has to be drywalled or plastered as well.
  • Doors should be solid wood or metal - at least 1¾ inch thick.

2. Means of Egress - Escaping the home
 
The goal is to allow the occupants to get out of the house if there is a fire. There are two common situations; either each unit has its own exit, or there is a common exit. If each unit has its own exit, you are all set. If the units share an exit, it is more complicated.  A common exit is allowed if it is 'fire separated' from both of the units with a 30 minute
rating. If the common exit is not appropriately fire separated, you can still use this common exit as long as there is a second exit from each dwelling unit and the fire alarms are interconnected (if one alarms, the others will alarm as well).
  
Here is an example:
There is a common exit area but the common area does not have a 30 minute fire
separation between both of the units. If there is an 'acceptable' window for an escape
route and the smoke alarms are interconnected, we are all set.
What is an acceptable window?
  • The windowsill must be within 3 feet of grade. We don't want people jumping and breaking a leg.
  • The smallest dimension is 18 inches.
  • The opening is at least 600 square inches (30 inches by 20 inches for example)
  • If there is a window well on a basement window, it must extend 3 feet out from the house wall, to allow room to crawl out.

3. Fire detection
  
All units must have smoke alarms. The owner of the property is responsible for ensuring that there are smoke alarms and that they are maintained. The smoke alarms do not have to be interconnected unless the fire separation to the common exit area does not have a 30 minute rating (Note: It must have at least a 15 minute rating). A carbon monoxide detector (CO detector) may be required by the city.
 
4. Electrical Safety
 
An electrical inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority is required. The Electrical Safety Authority used to be called Ontario Hydro Inspection Department. All deficiencies must be addressed. 
 
 
General Rules
 
Here are a few rules that your apartment must meet.
  • All bathrooms need either a window or an exhaust fan
  • If there is a parking spot for one of the units, there must also be a parking spot for the other unit (yes, you read it correctly!)
  • The minimum ceiling height is 6 feet 5 inches
  • The entrance door size must be at least 32 inches by 78 inches

Inspections and their costs
 
As we already pointed out, two inspections are required, fire code inspection and electrical safety inspection.
 
Once the inspections are done, you will be required to make the prescribed improvements. Improvements may be minor, but can cost $15,000 or more.
There is lots of room for the inspectors to be more or less 'strict'. In municipalities that encourage basement apartments, the inspection may be lest strict. In municipalities that discourage basement apartments, the inspection may be more strict.
Inspections for fire code compliance cost between $120 and $300. Inspections for electrical safety cost $72.
 

The consequences

If you are going to represent the property as two family, verify that it is registered with Municipal Property Standards. Failure to comply can result in a $25,000 fine and one year jail term.
 
 

 




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