Ontario Helping First-time Homebuyers

Province projected to balance budget next year

Ontario will help more people purchase their first home through a proposal to double the maximum Land Transfer Tax refund for eligible first-time homebuyers to $4,000. The proposed increase is detailed in the 2016 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review presented today by Finance Minister Charles Sousa. The increase would be effective January 1, 2017 and mean that eligible homebuyers in Ontario would pay no Land Transfer Tax on the first $368,000 of the cost of their first home.

The 2016 Review highlighted how the government is making new investments in programs, services and supports that help people in their everyday lives. These include $140 million in new funding that will help patients and their families receive better care and quicker access to services at every hospital across Ontario. As well, more families will benefit from an expansion of licensed child care with an investment of $65.5 million this school year to support the creation of about 3,400 new spaces.

Ontario is projecting balanced budgets next year and the year after. The deficit is projected to be $4.3 billion in 2016-17, in line with the 2016 Budget forecast. Ontario has a proven track record of beating its deficit targets, as demonstrated each of the past seven years. Most recently, Ontario’s Public Accounts for 2015-16 reported a $5 billion deficit, an improvement of $3.5 billion from the 2015 Budget deficit projection.

The government’s balanced plan to build Ontario to grow the economy and create jobs is working. The Province is expected to be among the leading economies in Canada over the next two years. For the first half of 2016, Ontario posted stronger growth in the gross domestic product than Canada, the U.S. and almost all other G7 countries. Exports are trending higher, businesses are hiring more workers and household incomes are rising. Ontario’s labour market also continues to improve. More than 641,000 net new jobs have been created since the global recession and the unemployment rate is at an eight-year low.

As the economy continues to grow, the government is responsibly managing spending and ensuring revenue integrity by addressing the underground economy and maintaining tax fairness.

The government continues to build Ontario up for everyone through strategic investments.

New initiatives include:

Helping People in Their Everyday Lives

  • Proposing to double the maximum Land Transfer Tax refund to $4,000 for eligible first-time homebuyers, as of January 1, 2017.
  • Rebating an amount equal to the eight per cent provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax from the electricity bills of eligible residential consumers, small businesses and farms starting January 1, 2017; and enhancing the Rural or Remote Electricity Rate Protection program to provide eligible rural customers with savings of about $45 per month, or $540 a year, resulting in on-bill monthly savings of about 20 per cent on their electricity bills when combined with the eight per cent rebate.

Strengthening Health Care and Education

  • Investing an additional $140 million across all hospitals in the Province to support better care for patients and reduced wait times.
  • Investing $65.5 million this school year to support the creation of approximately 3,400 new licensed spaces for infants, toddlers and preschoolers as a next step in creating 100,000 additional child care spaces by 2022.
  • Introducing the new dementia strategy that will build on current investments of $85 million to enhance services for older Ontarians and their families. The Province is also consulting this fall to help improve access to quality care for almost 230,000 people newly diagnosed or living with dementia and to support their caregivers.
  • Expanding local access to higher education through an investment of up to $180 million in new university-led postsecondary sites in Brampton and Milton, focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Fostering a Dynamic and Innovative Business Climate

  • Investing $32.4 million over four years in the Scale-Up Voucher Program to help high-impact  companies overcome barriers to their next stage of growth by funding activities such as developing and recruiting specialized talent, accessing new markets and protecting intellectual property.
  • Passing the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 that lays the foundation for Ontario’s cap-and-trade program. The program will help Ontario businesses seize the opportunities of the emerging low-carbon economy.

Protecting Ontario Consumers

  • Introducing legislation to establish the initial parameters for the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, a new independent and flexible regulator of financial services and pensions that would be more consumer-focused and improve protections for consumers, investors and pension plan beneficiaries.
  • Banning door-to-door marketing of certain household appliances, including water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters to protect consumers who feel pressured to sign contracts at the door.
  • Regulating the home inspection industry through mandatory licensing and qualifications for home inspectors as well as minimum standards for contracts, home inspection reports, disclosures and the performance of home inspections.

Quick Facts

  • The government is on track to meet its $5.7 billion multi-year asset optimization target to support infrastructure investments, including crediting $3.4 billion to the Trillium Trust from the net revenue gains from the sale of Hydro One shares in 2015 and the sale of the LCBO head office lands in June 2016.
  • As in the 2015–16 Public Accounts, the 2016 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review includes the Auditor General of Ontario’s new fiscal interpretation for the treatment of jointly held pension assets. The government has established an expert panel to deliver advice and recommendations on the accounting treatment of pension assets.
  • The Province has generated more than $230 million in additional revenue over what was reported in the 2016 Budget through enhanced tax compliance measures.
  • Building on earlier missions to Mexico, Israel and the West Bank as part of Ontario’s efforts to attract business investment, Premier Kathleen Wynne will lead her first business mission to Japan and South Korea later this month.

The hazards of buying without a property survey

With cottage buying season underway, now is a good time to recall that a property survey is the single most important document in the whole process.

If the cottage building is sitting on land owned by the Crown or a local municipality or a neighbour, the otherwise proud owner is going to be extremely unhappy and will soon be seeing a litigation lawyer.

It is dangerous to assume that any cottage is built exactly where it should be located. In Ontario, only a survey prepared by an Ontario land surveyor can confirm that the cottage is situated inside the appropriate land boundaries, that the land it sits on is where it should be and is the correct size and, if appropriate, the lot has private lake frontage.

Sadly, some industry stakeholders still have not gotten the message that the survey is of critical importance.

I was reminded of this when I saw a recent Facebook posting by an experienced and successful agent in Ontario cottage country. The post reads:

“Just lost another deal because a Toronto lawyer said buyers cannot purchase without an up-to-date survey. That’s funny….I sold three last week without a survey. I wonder if I can start using a clause, ‘the buyer and seller agree that they are obligated to use a lawyer local to the subject property.’”

The post set off a torrent of responses on both sides of the survey fence.

One of my favourite responses was from Nicole Gagnon-Bafaro, an agent with Sutton Group Heritage in Ajax.  She wrote, “We had a new survey done on our cottage .…we now own half our neighbour’s living room and his driveway.”

Barry Lebow, a veteran Realtor with Re/Max Ultimate in Toronto, wrote a post about a Toronto buyer who paid $2 million for a house in Toronto.  His agent (not Lebow) told him that a survey was a waste of money. It turned out that the driveway was a wide city sidewalk and it was illegal to park there. He sued and settled with the title insurer, but still has nowhere to park his Mercedes.

On his Facebook post, Lebow wrote, “A survey is one of the single most important documents a homeowner can have – period. Title insurance does not replace a survey. It may pay for a mistake but it will not give you a driveway you thought you had, or move fence lines.”

A scary cottage court case took place in 1989.  Dorothy Holmes paid $170,000 for a cottage on Georgian Bay. There was no survey.  The cottage was built in the 1930s, but unfortunately more than 95 per cent of the building was sitting on the 66-foot shoreline road allowance owned by the township.  She had no title to the land underneath most of the building and was unable to purchase it.  She sued and lost at trial and at the Court of Appeal.

The law books are full of court cases like the ones where the swimming pool or the septic bed was built on the land next door, where the new house was constructed on the wrong lot, where a buyer had to pay $129,000 to get a right of way to the property and where fences and retaining walls were built some distance from the actual lot boundary.

The moral of the story: if you don’t advise your clients to get a survey – in the city or in cottage country – you are not doing your job.

If your clients buy without a survey, make sure they understand the huge risks they are taking.

And it doesn’t matter whether the lawyer is in cottage country or in a city. Our standards are the same everywhere.

GTA HOUSING MARKET MONTHLY RESALE FIGURES

Greater Toronto’s REALTORSTORONTO, June 3, 2016 – Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark

McLean announced that there were 12,870 home sales reported through

TREB’s MLS® System in May 2016. This result represented a new record

for the month of May and a 10.6 per cent increase over the same period last

year. In contrast, the number of new listings was down over the same time

frame by 6.4 per cent. The decline in listings was experienced in both the

low-rise and condominium apartment market segments.

“Whether we’re talking about existing homeowners or people looking to

purchase for the first time, there is no shortage of buyers in the marketplace

today. So, while the record number of home sales through the first five

months of 2016 is not necessarily surprising, it does sometimes mask the

larger story in the GTA: the shortage of listings, which has resulted in strong

upward pressure on home prices,” said Mr. McLean.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 15 per cent

year-over-year in May 2016. Similarly, the average selling price for all home

types combined was up by 15.7 per cent over the same period. Low-rise

home types, which remained in short supply in many GTA neighborhoods,

experienced the strongest price growth.

“Widespread competition between buyers of singles, semis and townhouses

across the GTA has underpinned the robust annual rates of price growth

experienced so far this year. With this said, however, it is also important to

understand that tighter market conditions for condominium apartments have

resulted in price growth well above the rate of inflation in this market segment

as well,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

 

Toronto remains red-hot

City of TorontoIn a statement on Thursday (March 3), the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) said that transaction volume in what is considered Canada’s largest housing market went up by 21.1 per cent in February compared to last year.

This figure represented 7,621 dealings in that month alone, prompting realtors to conclude that a recent hike on down payments for more expensive homes has not helped in cooling down the Greater Toronto Area market.

The regulatory change, which was initially intended to slow down red-hot real estate markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, set the required down payment for homes worth between $500,000 and $1,000,000 at 10 per cent.

“Even after accounting for the leap year day, sales were above the previous record for February set back in 2010. Sales were up strongly from the 15th day of the month onward as well, despite the new federal mortgage lending guidelines,” TREB president Mark McLean said in a statement, as quoted by the Financial Post.

The activity in Toronto accompanied a growth in housing costs, the latest in a series of continuous price increases that have placed homes beyond the reach of an ever-larger fraction of the Canadian middle class.

“With strong sales up against a constrained supply of listings, home prices continued to trend strongly upward,” TREB director of market analysis Jason Mercer noted.

The average sale price as of February was $685,278 (up 14.9 per cent from a year ago). Detached homes remain to be among the most expensive properties in the city, selling for an average of $1,211,459 (16.3 per cent greater compared to last year).

Foreign investors driving up housing prices

The substantial amount of foreign capital flowing into the U.S. real estate market has proven to be a windfall for enterprising sellers, but this has also lead to a steady rise in prices that have made homes unreachable for many middle-class American households, analysts said.

In addition, observers said that investments made by foreign nationals—and by Chinese, in particular—have led to the relative devaluation of the American dollar compared to foreign currencies.

As quoted by the Financial Buzz, a Wall Street Journal report noted that a majority of the foreign investments were made in real estate situated in “safe havens” like Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Also, Chinese nationals have already transferred billions to their overseas assets, despite not being allowed by their government to make cross-border transactions worth more than $50,000. This phenomenon might be an indicator of illegal activity, and might be an omen of another bubble burst.

“This trend is a cause of concern for real estate watchers as a similar situation arose in 2007 just before the crash of 2008, when wealthy foreign buyers were purchasing expensive homes in cash,” the Financial Buzz report noted.

“In response, the US government has to shed its lackadaisical attitude towards real estate markets and curb foreigners from purchasing residential property in American cities that are for money laundering purposes,” the report added.

Figures from the National Association of Realtors placed the increase foreign real estate transactions within the U.S. in 2014 at 35 per cent over the previous year. This represented a total value of $92.2 billion.

Open houses: The pros and cons

Hosting an open house when selling a home is a tried-and-true real estate technique. But it can be a real hassle for the homeowner. An open house will undoubtedly get people in the door, but is it really necessary if you’re trying to sell a home? If you are honest with your client, you will say the short answer is no, but the longer answer is a little more complicated because open houses generate leads for you.

Open houses don’t generally have a big impact on home sales. While statistics on open houses aren’t available for the Canadian market, in the U.S., less than 10 per cent of open houses directly result in a sale. If a home is being marketed properly – listings are publicly available, you are actively networking and advertising, there is a website with photos or ideally a walkthrough video where prospective buyers can have an initial look at the property – then you don’t need to rely on an open house to get the property seen.
Open-HouseAnd it’s undeniable that many, if not most, of the people visiting an open house are not actually serious buyers, at least not yet. They may be “looky loos,” who simply enjoy seeing the insides of other people’s homes or who are looking for decorating or remodelling ideas; they may be people who are thinking about buying and are trying to get a sense of pricing and neighbourhoods; or they may be buyers who are visiting a house that’s a little above their price range just to have a base of comparison for their “real” house hunt.

Open houses have benefits for you, the agent. They allow you to show the house to multiple buyers’ agents. In an afternoon, they let you hand out cards and possibly find more customers, and they give newer agents practice in talking to buyers, showing off a home and networking with fellow agents.

Here are some reasons why your client may want to consider allowing you to schedule an open house as part of your marketing plan.

Explain to your clients that an agent-only open house can be very advantageous to sellers, as it allows a large number of agents to familiarize themselves with the home and therefore to be able to connect you with buyers who are looking for what you’re offering.

The open house can provide a handy deadline for the seller to make sure that everything they need to do to get the home as market-ready as possible is done by a fixed date: sprucing up the landscaping, painting, staging, decluttering and making sure the home is spotlessly clean. It’s very easy to put off these tasks from day to day and then get stuck with a possible buyer coming to look at it with only a day or two notice. If you set up an open house with a week or more of lead time, they can ensure the house is ready and from that point on maintaining tidiness is much easier.

From your client’s point of view, letting you market your house as you see fit demonstrates trust in your professionalism and if you get a networking boost off of selling the home, there’s no harm to them from it. If the time comes when they want to move again, you’ll remember them favourably. And if the property you’re selling is part of a larger complex of properties – perhaps a luxury condo or part of a planned community –then an open house allows both buyers and their agents to become familiar with the amenities of the building or community, amenities which are unquestionably among the property’s assets.

And finally, in a truly hot market, an open house can result in multiple offers and a quick sale. Open houses unquestionably create a sense of urgency for buyers, who can see the “competition” also viewing the home. While in a hot market the property is probably going to sell regardless, urgency can push the selling price up a bit.

 

10 overlooked tips for getting a property sold

By Christine Rae

Buyers have choices. They make decisions about a property within a blink of an eye. Here are ten overlooked tips for getting a property sold.

  1. Don’t get personal

Whether working with a professional stager or going it alone, cut all emotional ties. Visit each room, remember the memories and then pack the sentimentality away. It clouds judgement. Don’t look at your house from the perspective of it being yours, or this is who we are – buyers aren’t interested. Remove and store as many personal items as possible including all family photos, certificates, diplomas and medicine.

  1. Pack and store/dispose of two-thirds of every closet and cupboard

It is a great time to start deciding what you want to keep/donate/discard. Organized storage space is one of the most frequently requested interior features.

  1. First impressions are the only ones that count 

Buyers have choices. They make decisions about a property within a blink of an eye. Wherever the eye rests the sale begins.

  1. Understand staging is about condition more than décor

Sure the house has to look and feel good, but remember buyers are savvy – they will deduct from the offer (if they make an offer) their own perceived value for deferred maintenance. So repair anything that needs it, replace any fixtures more than eight years old and then clean like your life depends on it (your equity will). Pack and store (off property) anything you won’t use in the next two or three months. Remember, buyers are buying their new house, not your old one.

  1. Update the kitchen

This is the most important room in the house. If buyers fall in love here they will compromise anything on their “must have” list when the kitchen exceeds expectations.

  1. Keep all bedrooms gender-neutral

Including kids’ rooms and the master. Don’t think, “Oh, they can make the mental shift.” They can’t, won’t and don’t. You have a three-minute opportunity to get this house sold – why would you jeopardize a single second?

  1. Bathrooms are the second most important room in the house

So if you have money, upgrade what you can, at least in the main bath. Change the old cabinet-style sink for a pedestal or furniture sink and remember storage is vital. In the extra space gleaned, consider installing an organised linen closet with deep pull-out drawers.

  1. Odour and allergens alert!

During the past 50 years, the rise in prevalence of allergic diseases has increased. Worldwide, sensitization rates to one or more common allergens are approaching 50 per cent. You don’t know whether the future buyer is one of them. So, know when you live in your house you will not be able to smell what others do. Assume the worst and prepare. The best option is no smells at all. Open windows, don’t use household or garden chemical products. If you have pets, remove them from the property for the duration of the sales process (spa, friend, family).

  1. Lighting

Make sure every light bulb is energy efficient and at the highest wattage the fixture will take. Clean all the fixtures for maximum sparkle.

  1. Seventy-four per cent of prospective buyers will drive by your property

Before they even think about viewing it and half of them will do it at night. What that means to you is considerable thought going into curb appeal. Never underestimate its power. Curb appeal done well is like gift wrapping on a present. The National Association of Realtors says, “Great curb appeal sells more than half of all houses that go on the market.”

Outdoor lighting is vital. Light up the porch and be sure the numbers of the house are illuminated and visible from the street. Consider lighting pathways and spotlighting a feature of the property – a dramatic tree or the front façade.  Landscape experts agree there is 100 per cent ROI for money invested in front, back and side yards. Curb appeal wraps around to resort/lifestyle living in the backyard too.  It is one of the most undervalued aspects of market preparedness that can actually add dollars to your bottom line. Ninety five per cent of people surveyed said outdoor living amenities are vital. Outdoor allure also extends to balconies, decks and patios.

Give people what they least expect; they don’t know they want it but when they see it they can’t resist. The more you can accommodate that, the easier it is to sell.

Know Your Home & What’s In It

What Is A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)?

How Do I Reset A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)?

 

 

what is a gfci home safety where is the reset button on a gfci
GFCI

 

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or RCD

which is a Residual Current Device. 

These devices are used to shut off an electrical current or power when the electrical current is flowing along an unintended path.

For example a GFCI or RCD will shut off if a power current is flowing through water.

After the power is interrupted it can be reset manually to allow the flow of power again naturally.

See above an example of a GFCI power receptacle.

 

Record Sales in April 2015

— Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 11,303 sales in April 2015. This was the highest sales result on record for the month of April and represented a 17 per cent increase in comparison to April 2014. While sales increased strongly on a year-over-year basis, new listings were up over the same period by a more moderate five per cent.

“The record April result clearly points to the fact that a growing number of GTA households view ownership housing as a high quality, long-term investment. This is evidenced by the strong sales growth we have experienced in Toronto and surrounding regions for all major home types. Firsttime buyers and existing homeowners remain very active in today’s market,” said Mr.Etherington.

The overall average selling price, which accounts for all homes reported sold by GTA REALTORS® in April 2015, was up by 10 per cent year-over-year to $635,932. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark, which estimates the price of a benchmark home with the same attributes from one period to the next, was up by 8.4 per cent over the same period. The fact that average price growth outpaced growth for the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark, suggests that a greater share of higher-end homes changed hands this year compared to last.

Irrespective of the indicator used, price growth in the GTA was strongest for low-rise home types. However, the better supplied condominium apartment segment also remained healthy with price growth above the rate of inflation.

“Demand for ownership housing was very high relative to the number of homes available for sale in April. This situation is not expected to change markedly as we move through the remainder of 2015. Until we experience a sustained period in which listings grow at a faster pace than sales, annual rates of home price growth will remain strong,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Comments on Bank Of Canada Rate Hold

Bank of Canada last met in January 2015 and reduced the Prime Rate from 3.00% to 2.85%
– Bank of Canada met again this morning to discuss further changes to rates and decided to leave interest rates unchanged
– there is the possibility of another rate cut in the coming months, maybe as soon as April 15, 2015, the Bank of Canada’s next scheduled meeting.

Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist for Dominion Lending Centres (DLC) was expecting the Bank of Canada to leave interest rates unchanged today in the wake of the surprising rate cut in late January.

Governor Stephen Poloz signaled this wait-and-see stance last week, following criticism that his surprise move had destabilized financial markets, thwarting the Bank’s efforts to boost economic activity. “The Bank has become increasingly concerned about the dampening impact of the plunge in oil prices on business capital spending and production in the oil sector—a key component of Canadian economic expansion in the past,” said Dr. Cooper. Recent layoff announcements in the oil patch exacerbate this concern.

“For now, core inflation in Canada remains quite low, giving the Bank plenty of leeway to maintain a very accommodative policy stance,” said Dr. Cooper. “However, the weakness in the Canadian dollar will increasingly show through in rising import prices, as so many consumer and business products are imported from the U.S.”

The Bank of Canada continues to project that the dampening impact of lower oil prices will be felt in the first half of this year, leaving open the possibility of another rate cut in coming months, maybe as soon as its next meeting on April 15. The hope is that the weaker Canadian dollar will offset the oil price shock by boosting non-energy exports and investment. Lower oil prices have been good for consumers and non-energy businesses that are heavy users of energy.

Dr. Cooper believes that with “the U.S. economy leading global economic expansion, the Federal Reserve is poised to hike rates for the first time in nearly eight years, probably by the late-June meeting. This alone will put some further downward pressure on the Canadian dollar. Hence, the Bank of Canada’s caution in cutting rates now; but if non-energy exports and business investment do not follow through, the Bank will cut interest rates further, accepting the Canadian dollar fallout”.

“My view is that the Canadian economy will grow at about a 2-1/4 percent pace this year with long-term yields edging higher by yearend. In sum, while mortgage rates might fall a bit further in the next couple of months,” said Dr. Cooper. “They are headed higher by yearend. The rise, however, will be muted. Next year, expect the Bank of Canada to begin to tighten, raising overnight rates very gradually. This, of course, is predicated on a near-term bottoming in oil prices, edging to the $60-to-$65 a barrel range in the next year. As always, central bank action will be data dependent.”

Strong Start to 2015

— Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced a strong start to 2015, with robust year-over-year sales and average price growth in January. Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,355 home sales through the TorontoMLS system during the first month of the year. This result represented a 6.1 per cent increase over January 2014. During the same period, new listings were up by 9.5 per cent.


“The January results represented good news on multiple fronts. First, strong sales growth suggests home buyers continue to see housing as a quality long-term investment, despite the recent period of economic uncertainty. Second, the fact that new listings grew at a faster pace than sales suggests that it has become easier for some people to find a home that meets their needs,” said Mr. Etherington.

The average selling price for January 2015 home sales was up by 4.9 per cent year-overyear to $552,575. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite benchmark was up by 7.5 percent compared to January 2014.

“Home price growth is forecast to continue in 2015. Lower borrowing costs will largely mitigate price growth this year, which means affordability will remain in check. The strongest rates of price growth will be experienced for low-rise home types, including singles, semis and town houses. However, robust end-user demand for condo apartments will result in above-inflation price growth in the high-rise segment as well,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Click here for complete report Click here for Historic report

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Asking Price: $449,900

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How to tell fact from fiction: Real Estate Council of Ontario survey finds many home buyers and sellers have more to learn about the real estate process

TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2014 /CNW/ – A new survey by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) reveals 41 per cent ofOntario homeowners and 45 per cent of first-time homebuyers wish they had done something differently when buying or selling their home.

Among things buyers/sellers reported wishing they had approached differently when purchasing or selling their home was having a better grasp of the process (buying process: 26%; selling process 12%), seeing more houses (buying process: 21%), having a home inspection (buying process: 15%), spending more time researching and interviewing real estate professionals before selecting one (selling process: 9%), and understanding the contracts involved better (buying process: 14%; selling process: 9%).

“Buying or selling a home can seem confusing and stressful to many—but there are steps everyone can take to make the process easier, and more satisfying, including brushing up on the basics, doing some homework, asking the right questions, and working with a registered real estate professional,” says RECO Registrar Joseph Richer.

A further 32 per cent of first-time homebuyers reported that they did not feel prepared and knowledgeable about the process, and only half of Ontario homeowners aged 18 to 34 felt they were prepared and knowledgeable about it.

“These results are a telling reminder that a good understanding of the real estate process can lead to fewer long-term regrets,” says Richer. “This is why we are launching Fact or Fiction – a public education campaign to educate Ontarians about the real estate industry and what resources are available to help them when making such an important financial decision.”

The study, kicking off Financial Literacy Month, was hosted on the Angus Reid Forum for RECO as part of a province-wide public-education campaign to inform Ontarians about common real estate myths. The campaign also includes a fun, interactive online quiz that invites Ontarians to put their real estate knowledge to the test.

Real Estate Fact or Fiction? 
The survey reveals that a surprising number of Ontario homeowners don’t know the facts when it comes to undertaking one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives, regardless of their age or previous experience buying or selling a home.

Contract confusion

  • 52 per cent of those surveyed incorrectly think buyer and seller representation agreements are standardized, when many terms and conditions in real estate contracts, such as how long they will remain in effect, are actually to be discussed between the brokerage and the client.
  • 43 per cent report there were sections of the real estate contract when they bought or sold a home that they did not fully understand.
  • More than one-third of Ontario homeowners (36 per cent) mistakenly think that after a real estate contract is signed, a buyer or seller has a trial period during which they can cancel it, and an additional 33 per cent said they do not know.
  • 26 per cent incorrectly believe that signing a representation agreement to buy or sell a home with one brokerage doesn’t limit a buyer or seller from working with representatives from another brokerage (21 per cent did not know).

“Every home is unique and so is the contract to buy it or sell it,” says Richer. “Signing your name on the dotted line is not something to be taken lightly when you’re dealing with binding contracts for significant values, so we encourage home buyers and sellers to be comfortable with the details before they sign anything.”

Multiple representation

  • A majority of respondents (58 per cent) could not identify the conditions under which a real estate professional could represent both a buyer and a seller in a transaction.
  • Only 42 per cent correctly know that real estate professionals may represent both sides in a deal only if the parties agree to “multiple representation” in writing. (Nineteen per cent incorrectly think real estate professionals are able to act for only one party.)

Deposits

  • 55 per cent incorrectly believe that if you place a conditional offer on a home and the deal doesn’t proceed, you automatically get your deposit back. In fact, a deposit—which is held in trust by a brokerage—can only be released if both buyer and seller agree, or by court order.

“As the regulator mandated by provincial law to regulate the real estate industry in Ontario, RECO is committed to helping people better understand the ins and outs of buying and selling homes,” says Richer. “We encourage buyers and sellers alike to work with a registered real estate professional and to feel free to ask any questions they might have throughout the process.”

RECO Facts: Financial Literacy Month public education campaign
In addition to survey research, RECO’s public education campaign features a suite of consumer information including:

Is your real estate professional registered with RECO?
To confirm if a real estate professional is registered with the provincial regulator, consumers can visitwww.RECO.on.ca to search an online database of brokerages, brokers and salespeople. By using a registered real estate professional, Ontarians not only receive important and objective information that will help them make informed decisions, they are also assured that their representative must adhere to strict professional standards.

About the survey:
From October 10th to October 14th 2014 an online survey was conducted among 1043 randomly selected Ontarioadults who own their home and who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.3%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted on age, gender, region and income to be representative of Ontario homeowners. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About RECO:
RECO regulates the real estate profession in Ontario. RECO is responsible for administering the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA 2002) and associated regulations on behalf of the provincial government. In order to trade in real estate in Ontario, brokers and salespersons must be registered under REBBA 2002. RECO’s mission is excellence in the delivery of regulatory services that protect the public interest and enhance consumer confidence in the real estate profession. For more information, visit www.reco.on.ca.

About Consumer Protection Ontario:
Consumer Protection Ontario is an awareness program from Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and other public organizations that promote consumer rights and public safety. For more information, visithttp://www.ontario.ca/consumers/consumer-protection-ontario.

SOURCE Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO)

Be Aware Of Extra Costs When Moving

paul_etheringtonGiven the fact that tens of thousands of homes change hands throughout the Greater Toronto Area each year, it’s easy to forget that buying a home is a complex process to which the phrase “the devil’s in the details” aptly applies.

It is one of the many reasons why each year close to 200,000 homebuyers and sellers choose to work with a Greater Toronto REALTOR®, who can offer advice on all of the details that are important to keep in mind, from protecting your interests with offer clauses to changing the locks once the process is complete.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 study ‘Homeownership and Shelter Costs in Canada’ approximately 25 per cent of Canadians spent one-third or more of their income on shelter, and our city’s average monthly shelter costs were the nation’s highest at $1,366 that year.

As such, in addition to preparing for some of the standard expenses involved in a real estate transaction such as moving and legal services, it’s wise to set aside extra funds for a number of other homeownership costs you may not yet have considered.

If you’re moving into a first home and it’s a freehold property be sure to keep in mind outside maintenance. Ideally, you should plan for the purchase of a snow blower and as an essential you’ll need a lawn mower. If you’re buying a new home there’s fencing to consider and in a mature neighbourhood don’t forget that tree trimming might be needed. If it’s a condominium you’ve chosen be prepared for the eventuality that maintenance fees may increase.

Inside, elements that are less apparent are often most vital to a well operating home. As such, consider allotting some funds for cleaning the air ducts and servicing the furnace, air conditioning and fireplace units. Even minor repairs and cosmetic fixes like replacing cabinet hardware, faucets or light fixtures can add up.

It’s a well documented fact that adding a fresh coat of paint to your new surroundings offers one of the best returns on investment when it comes to renovations but even a few gallons of paint, brushes, rollers and drop cloths can set you back several hundred dollars.

While window coverings are often included in a resale home transaction you might find that they don’t match your style, and replacement can be costly.  Similarly, you’ll likely discover that your beat up sofa just doesn’t do justice to your new space, so be sure to set aside some funds for new furnishings as well. Remember that there will also be set-up costs associated with transferring your television, phone and Internet services.

While there are a multitude of details to keep in mind and extra costs for which to prepare, homeownership is still the best investment, and buying a property in the GTA is a particularly wise decision.  In study after study Toronto consistently ranks among the top cities in the world when measuring key factors such as resiliency, intelligence and tax competitiveness.  As well, it’s the only investment in which you can live while it appreciates.

To learn more about the process of buying and selling a home talk to a Greater Toronto REALTOR® and for updates on the market, open house listings and more be sure to visit www.TorontoRealEstateBoard.com

Paul Etherington is President of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 39,000 REALTORS® in the Greater Toronto Area.