Wednesday, June 2, 2010

True Value of a Real Estate Agent

The process of selling in Canada is effectively controlled by Multiple Listing Service. Over 80% of sales transactions take place though this medium.

Under MLS, the members of the service, share the information among each other to expedite the process of selling. The access to private data is not open to the public.
The process of selling a property through the services of MLS can be divided in 5 different stages.

Processing a MLS Listing:

This includes things like, collecting the pertinent information about the property, such as measurements, legal description, zoning, liens if any, Title, Insurance, property taxes and converting this to the format that the board accepts and then processing it through the MLS system. The important information about the property is then made available to the consumers by CREA’s on its website however, it does not carry the names of the owner, his contact information or any thing that would help the consumer to contact the seller directly. He must contact the broker representing the seller to get more information and to see the property.

Marketing the property:

This includes all those steps the broker takes to expose the property to the prospective buyers to bring in the sale. This includes, but is not limited to, activities like, advertising, in papers, sign on the property, holding open houses, face to face meetings with prospective buyers, sending flyers, advertising on the net, canvassing, etc. etc.

Servicing the Listing:

Encompasses answering questions and queries of consumers, brokers, lawyers, mortgage broker, building inspectors, appraisers, providing answering desk, making appointment and keeping a log of the activities to facilitate the sale and seeing it through the closing.

Representation and Negotiations:

This is the most important phase for the sale of the property. This is where the knowledge, expertise and experience of the agent shines and can have a huge impact on the final outcome. It includes representing the Seller in negotiations with the buyer / buyer’s agent. The goal here is to promote and protect the interests’ of the seller and maximize his returns from the sale of the property.


During any of the stages stated here above, there may be situation where the seller needs the advice concerning any issue effecting the sale of the property.

For More Information Contact Your Local Real Estate Specialist.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tax Harmonization: Frequently Asked Questions

Friday, February 5, 2010

How condo owners can claim the Home Renovation Tax Credit

If the term "Home Renovation Tax Credit" brings to mind images of detached houses in the suburbs and not units in sky-high buildings, you're not alone. Many condo owners are paying little attention to the credit when they could be reaping the benefits.

In fact, there are many opportunities for condo owners to claim the credit, including some outside of their own units.

Condo owners can claim a portion of improvements made to their building between Jan. 27, 2009 and Feb. 1, 2010, as long as they were at least partially responsible for paying for the upgrades.

Here's how it works:
Assuming each condo owner pays a monthly fee to a condo corporation, repairs or renovations completed and paid for with that money should count toward the HRTC. The condo corporation is simply paying for these goods and services on behalf of all of the unit owners.
Condo corporations are unable to claim the credit because it is available only to individuals, so it's up to each person to claim his or her portion.

Therefore, on their 2009 taxes, condo owners can claim the credit for renovations to their own unit – similar to what would be done in a detached home, for example – as well as their share of any renovations to common areas paid for by the condo corporation.
This could include anything from new windows installed in your building to a redesigned lobby area or improved landscaping.

Add these shared costs with renovations you may have done to your individual unit (bathroom or kitchen upgrades, new fixtures, painting) and you could significantly increase your credit.
Canada Revenue Agency guidelines for condo owners indicate that improvements made to common areas will qualify if:

– You own your unit. Renters are out of luck, even if they pay similar monthly fees.
– "The expenses would be eligible expenses if the common areas were treated as an eligible dwelling" – if new furniture wouldn't count in a detached home, it won't count in a condo either.
– Your condo corporation has notified you of your share of the expenses.
As a reminder, the tax credit applies to renovation costs over $1,000 and under $10,000, so if you spent a few hundred dollars on your own unit and the condo corporation spent a few hundred more on your behalf, that may be the difference between getting a return or not.

What you'll need to make the claim:
Since you're not dealing directly with stores or contractors and won't receive original receipts or invoices, in order to claim your portion of building renovations you need documentation from your condo corporation. This can be in the form of a letter and must be signed.
Most condo corporations have a set of guidelines that help them determine the allocation of expenses for common areas. It is this documentation that will guide them in establishing each condo owner's contributions to renovations and therefore how much people can claim.
According to Canada Revenue Agency, the documentation "must clearly identify the type and quantity of goods purchased or services provided" and also include the following:
– The cost of the renovations
– Your portion of the expenses (exactly how much you are considered to have contributed)
– Contact information for the vendor or contractor (including GST/HST number, if applicable)
– A description of the work in question
– The date or dates the work was completed.
If you do not receive documentation for improvements to your building, it is worth asking about. It could mean a few more dollars in your pocket!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Having a green home provides savings and peace-of-mind

When it comes to character, you just can’t beat the charm of an older home. Newly constructed homes however, come with their own unique assets, one of the most noteworthy of which is energy efficiency.

From the roof to the foundation, a number of innovative building practices often go into constructing today’s greenest homes.

Roof shingles for example, are now available in recycled materials. Environmentally friendly spray foam insulation, which can help prevent dampness, keep out pollutants and contribute to structural strength, is even partially made with recycled materials.

Roofs, walls and floors can be insulated as well with special structural panels that consist of two layers of board with insulating foam in between them. The forms that are used to mould a home’s poured concrete foundation can now also be found with insulating ability, and barriers that prevent dampness from rising into the foundation can be used at this stage of construction as well. Even exterior cladding is now insulated to offer greater energy efficiency.

If you prefer an older home though, there are many simple ways to make it more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Start with an Energy Star programmable thermostat that will save on heating and cooling costs when you’re not home. You can take this approach a step further by investing in a new high efficiency furnace or air conditioner. Adding insulation to the attic of your home will offer reduced energy costs for years to come as well.

A tank-less water heater will also save on energy costs by providing only the amount of heated water that you need rather than maintaining it in a cylinder.

Even making minor changes can have an impact, like choosing energy efficient light bulbs - Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are good and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are even better.

If you’re planning to make cosmetic changes to your home you can do your part for the environment by choosing wood flooring, and even carpet, made with recycled content. Look for low VOC paints and stains as well, which reduce the number of unstable, carbon-containing compounds that enter the air and react with other elements.

In the bathroom, you can keep more money in your pocket by installing low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets.

Replacing old windows with low-E argon-filled units that have the Energy Star symbol can make a dramatic difference to your home’s energy efficiency as well.

Changing your old appliances with new Energy Star machines is also a great way to reduce energy consumption while enhancing the overall appeal of your home.

Beyond enjoying the aesthetics, cost savings and fulfillment associated with helping the environment, you can also consider getting an energy audit to take full advantage of a number of government rebates for energy-saving home improvements..

Regardless of the approach you choose, remember that nothing can substitute for good-old fashioned conservation. Remember that the energy you save today may well be the energy that is needed tomorrow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

HST Transition Rules

The provincial government has provided rules/guidance on how it will transition to the implementation of the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax.

  • The HST is NOT YET IN EFFECT. The HST will come into effect beginning on July 1, 2010; however, note transition rules below.
  • HST will not apply on the purchase price of re-sale homes.
  • HST would apply to services such as moving cost, legal fees, home inspection fees, and REALTOR® commissions.
  • HST will apply to the purchase price of newly constructed homes. However, the Province is proposing a rebate so that new homes across all price ranges would receive a 75 per cent rebate of the provincial portion of the single sales tax on the first $400,000. For new homes under $400,000, this would mean, on average, no additional tax amount compared to the current system. 

Transitional Rules for New Housing
  • Generally, sales of new homes under written agreements of purchase and sale entered into on or before June 18, 2009 would not be subject to the provincial portion of the single sales tax, even if both ownership and possession are transferred on or after July 1, 2010.
  • The tax would also not apply to sales of new homes under written agreements of purchase and sale entered into after June 18, 2009 where ownership or possession is transferred before July 1, 2010.

Additional Transitional Rules

  • Where services straddle the HST implementation date of July 1, 2010, the tax charged for the service may have to be split between the pre-July 2010 and post-June 2010 periods. However, the HST will generally not apply to a service if all or substantially all (90% or more) of the service is performed before July 2010.
  • Four key timelines are important (see below). All are based on the earlier of the time the consideration is either due (In general, an amount is due on the date of the invoice or the day required to be paid pursuant to a written agreement), or is paid without having become due. If consideration is due or paid,
    • Before October 15, 2009, HST will generally not apply (however, see above transition rules for new housing).
    • From October 15, 2009 to April 30, 2010, certain business that are not entitled to recover all of their GST/HST paid as input tax credit may be required to self-assess the provincial component of the HST with respect to goods or services supplied after June 30, 2010.
    • From May 1, 2010 to June 30, 2010, HST will generally apply for services supplied after June 30, 2010.
    • After June 30, 2010, HST will generally apply. An exception to this rule would be where ownership of the property is transferred before July 2010 or the invoice relates to services provided before July 2010. 
  • With regard to the lease or license of goods, including non-residential real property, HST will generally apply to lease intervals or payment periods on or after July 1, 2010 and the general rules noted above will apply. However, where a lease interval begins before July 2010 and ends before July 31, 2010, it is not subject to HST.
  • With regard to the sale of non-residential property, HST is due where both possession and ownership of non-residential property occurs on or after July 1, 2010.

More Detail

Additional detail on the transition rules is available at the provincial government web site here or by calling the provincial government enquiry line at 1-800-337-7222.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


 Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 1,749 existing home
sales on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) during the first two weeks of January. This result
was almost double the 888 sales reported for the same period in 2009, when sales had dipped
to a recessionary low.

“We have had a strong start to 2010,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Tom Lebour.
“Widespread sales growth in terms of geography and housing type indicates that many
households remain confident in their ability to purchase and pay for a home over the long-term.”
The average price for transactions in the first two weeks of January was $395,307, compared to
an average of $332,495 for the same period in 2009.

“Double-digit average annual price growth will continue through the first quarter of 2010 as sales
remain high relative to listings and we continue to make comparisons to last year’s winter
downturn,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year, New Market, New Rules

One Home Turf correspondent has been back in touch to relate his good news for the New Year: The reader and his family of six are finally preparing to leave a two-bedroom rental apartment for a roomy house in Georgetown, Ont.
The cramped living quarters were sufficiently motivating to prompt the dad to sweeten his offer a couple of times and vanquish the competition.
You may remember this family from a previous post in October when they were lamenting their bad luck and bad timing. The family sold a house in Brampton last spring when house sales were still sluggish. Then, just as they began a search for a new house in a better location, the market took off again.
Every time they found a house that seemed to suit their family, it would sell within hours. Once they got into the contest in time but lost out to a higher offer, with no chance to increase their own bid.
“We wait for the next one to come along,” he wrote at the time. “Very frustrating situation.”
As the fall season wound down, fewer listings were coming to market, but they continued to drop in on open houses.
Then, one weekend they stumbled upon an open house for a recently-listed property on a quiet street in pretty Georgetown. The house, with 2,700 square feet, had an asking price of $514,000. It contained a basement apartment that they could rent to help with the mortgage.
They jumped right in with an offer for 97 per cent of the asking price ­­-- which the seller totally ignored.
Already they were dabbling in a much higher price bracket than they had previously considered, so they continued to look around while they hoped that the seller would soften up a bit.
A few weeks later, their agent called and said that two offers were on the table for the Georgetown house. The family decided to go ahead and offer the full asking price with no conditions.
Wouldn’t you know it, it still wasn’t enough. But this time they did have the opportunity to increase their bids.
“The thought of future months with all 6 of us squeezed into this tiny apartment quite motivated us to increase our offer.”
After the third round, the family prevailed with an accepted offer of $516,000. Their agent said they beat the competition by only several hundred dollars.
Now they’re packing, finalizing details, and trying to draw a tenant who won’t mind renting a basement apartment with a rambunctious family living above.
“It feels good to have the housing plan in place instead of the stumbling-in-the-dark feeling you have when things don’t go smoothly,” he says after that trying ordeal.
Economists and real estate agents are predicting that listings will rise in the spring - which they always do, of course - but this year they are looking for an effect more pronounced than the usual seasonal bounce.
We’ll have more detail about the listings outlook in a feature in Globe Real Estate on Friday. But all of the harbingers are pointing towards a frantically busy spring.
For now, though, the Georgetown family is just happy that they don’t have to wait that long.

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