Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thinking about Handing over the Cottage?

 Thinking about handing over the cottage? It could be less ‘taxing’ these days

Your vacation property has always been a prime place for family fun and enjoyment. And you want it to continue to be your family’s happy gathering place for many years to come – even after you are gone. If you’re considering ways to make the transfer to your children, this current economic downturn could actually be to your advantage – your tax advantage, that is.

When you die, your assets can usually be passed to your spouse or common-law partner without incurring a tax liability. But if you leave capital assets – such as your cottage – to anyone else, including your kids, you’re deemed to have disposed of those capital assets at fair market value. If your cottage property has appreciated in value, your estate could be hit with a significant capital gains liability.

If you leave your cottage to your children in your will, you have no way of knowing how much of a tax hit they’ll take – maybe a big enough hit that they won’t be able to afford to continue owning the cottage.

While real estate values are ebbing right now, it may not be an entirely bad thing. Real estate prices may rebound in the future – historically, that has been the case. Instead of leaving the property as a bequest in your will, you can transfer cottage ownership to your kids now, either as an outright gift or by selling it to them. The transfer will trigger an immediate capital gain but the property will be valued at the current reduced market level, which could save a significant amount of tax.

If you are going to sell the property to your children, be sure to sell it to them for fair market value. When you transfer a property to a close family member, you will be deemed to have received fair market value even if you actually receive much less than that on the sale, meaning that you will still have to pay tax on the capital gain regardless of whether or not you have received any cash. Also, selling a property for less than fair market value can actually result in some double taxation, so speak to your tax specialist before transferring the property. If you want to spread out the capital gains tax (and make the payments more manageable for your children), consider making the payments payable over a 5 year period and claiming the capital gains reserve, so that only 20% of the capital gain is taxable in any one year.

If you are more comfortable with leaving the property to your kids in your will, one good way to alleviate the inevitable capital gains tax hit is with permanent life insurance. The death benefits are usually tax-free and can be used to cover capital gains and/or any other estate taxes – so your executor won’t be forced to sell your cottage or any other assets to pay taxes.

Your family cottage is an important part of your life. Make it an important part of your overall financial plan, too. Your professional advisor can help you make the right choices for your personal situation.

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Qu├ębec – a Financial Services Firm), presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact a financial advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.

John Scholl   B. Mathematics, CGA, Wealth Management & Financial Planning 

 (905) 450-2891 X529   Cell:   (416) 731-3660   john.scholl@investorsgroup.com

Protect Your Deposit


Loss of part of deposit teaches a hard lesson

Barbara and Michael learned the hard way that pre-construction deposits paid to builders of condominium units are only protected by the Tarion Warranty Corp. up to a maximum of $20,000.

Barbara emailed me recently to say that three years ago she and her husband purchased a condominium home to be built in Parry Sound, and gave a $40,000 deposit directly to the builder without consulting a lawyer.

The house she chose was to be a "nice size" home on a lakefront lot, "our dream for the future."

Barbara knows three other couples who also paid deposits to the builder. The builder was a former lawyer who was disbarred by the Law Society in 2003. He had been found guilty of misappropriating more than $3 million from his clients between 1998 and 2000.

"He wooed us," Barbara told me in her email, "and we trusted him explicitly. We all paid him deposits and for the next two years listened to his excuses and promises that building would start soon.

"My husband and I sold our house in February 2008, and he promised that if our (new) house was not ready, he would look after our living expenses. (We have been living with family since October 2008.)"

Last November, the couple gave up on the builder and finally contacted Tarion. They applied for a return of their deposit, and wrote me if there was any chance of getting back more than Tarion's $20,000 cap on condominium deposit protection.

I asked Peter Balasubramanian, a lawyer and vice-president of claims for Tarion, about the condominium deposit protection. He told me that the $20,000 is a hard cap, and a condominium buyer cannot claim more than the maximum under any circumstances.

Under the Condominium Act, all deposits are to be held in trust, usually by the builder's lawyer unless Tarion has received "prescribed security" for the first $20,000, or excess deposit insurance has been purchased from a company like Lombard Canada or Travellers Guarantee Company for the amount above $20,000. (Purchasers of freehold homes are protected against loss of deposits up to $40,000.)

Balasubramanian confirmed to me that "if the money never went into trust but the builder simply took the money, then there would be no protection for the purchaser other than the $20,000 protected by Tarion" even though the project was not registered with the warranty corporation.

"We are all very grateful that Tarion exists and that we are able to get part of our deposits back; but there is still $76,000 (among the three couples) that is owing," Barbara wrote.

For buyers of builder condominiums, there are important lessons to be learned, even though the vast majority of Ontario home and condominium builders properly place deposit funds in trust.

  • Deposit money should always be paid to a law firm or other trustee, never to the builder, unless security has been posted with Tarion for the funds.
  • Purchasers whose deposits exceed $20,000 should always insist on getting a copy of the builder's excess deposit insurance to ensure that all funds above the Tarion cap are protected.
  • Ensure that the builder and project are registered with Tarion.
  • Having a lawyer review a purchase agreement before it becomes binding is always a good idea.

Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and a director of the Tarion Warranty Corporation.  He can be reached by email at bob@aaron.ca, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818.  Visit the column archives at http://aaron.ca/columns/toronto-star-index.htm for articles on this and other topics.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What do my clients say about me?

There are many videos online with my content that is designed to be educational and informative about life in Mississauga, and ultimately the west Toronto (GTA)

I am very fortunate to have a seller that was willing to go on camera with a testimonial.



I am very grateful to Karen for her contagious laughter, great spirit and zest for adventure in life that made working with her an absolute pleasure.

If you would like to have a similar experience with your real estate transaction in Mississauga, I would be pleased to interview for the position. Buying a home should be a stress free, informed and comfortable situation where you examine all the possible outcomes and then make an educated decision.

This page is intended to solicit those buyers and sellers of homes that have been disappointed in the past. I welcome you to search for your next home on the Toronto West Homes website.

You will not be spammed or converted. Just look at listings. All of them.

Then call me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why you need a high Tech Home Inspector

A Home Inspection whether on a new construction or resale home is imperative to you as the consumer to be aware of what future repair items will be required.

While on a Home Inspection with Russ Fascullo recently, I was introduced to an infrared camera and moisture meters. These items could be visually dismissed as unimportant but there is actually an underlying problem that was discovered using uninvasive inspection methods.

The glass shower door was scraping slightly on the marble sill plate of the threshold. This in itself could be adjustment of the hinges. Further inspection shows differently.




The cause of the problem was a lack of sealing the grout with the ceramic tile, omission of silicone caulking and the result is a swelling of the frame structure below the door due to moisture absorption. The result is a bathroom sill plate that is in need of repair and could cause mold to grow in this area.

This problem was revealed with the use of readily available tools.

I urge you to get professional help and advice when buying and selling properties.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Are you having the Jerry Maquire Experience?

If you are not building a solid trusting almost family relationship, that your REALTOR has your best interest at heart over the long term of your property ownership, you need to interview different experienced people who will professionally handle your situation.




David Pylyp serves the west Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga communities. You can reach David @ 647 218 2414 or through his office at 905 272 3434. RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage.

Variable Rate Mortgages Now offer Cash Back Program

Cash Back Programs have been available on fixed rate financing options for a home purchase. consumers keep asking for the cash back option but on the variable rate interest program.

"Even with low 5 year fixed rates a large number of first time buyers continue to request variable closed mortgages." Said Lindsay Doke RBC Trusted Mortgage Advisor

Lindsay continued "Due to the next 2-3 year outlook where economists are predicting stability in the bank prime interest rates now at a historical lows. We all know however even with the land transfer incentives to first time buyers there still are times where there is a shortfall."

Whether it is for furniture or appliances or even cash to reduce higher interest debt to improve cash flow. This program maybe useful to help with closing costs, or home improvements. The money that is spend would also be eligible for the Home Renovation Tax credit.

Well RBC now can provide cash back incentive on our five variable closed term.

Call Lindsay or myself today and we can provide you options to help with your purchase.

Lindsay Doke Trusted Mortgage Advisor RBC Financial is available at 416 464 6423 or lindsay.doke@rbc.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Etobicoke Homes, Humber Bay Shore Condos

If you are living in the west Toronto, Etobicoke area, and into Mississauga, I think we are on the better side of the city.  The Growth of Homes and Condominiums has been explosive.

Toronto has its challenges with growth and asset management while Mississauga continues to lead with innovative planning and budgetary surplus.  The newest communities will be in Lakeview on the south, just past Brown's Line.

The Humber Bay Shore and Park Lawn road intersections are currently undergoing rapid expansion and pensively awaiting TTC light rail improvements.



If you are considering moving to this area of Toronto  I would be pleased to assist you in any fashion possible.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CMHC Spring Market Forecast 2009

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) new home market will experience a slower pace in activity during 2009.

Total new home sales are expected to drop to 15,500 units this year from 28,000 sales reached in 2008. Pre-construction high-rise sales will reach 7,000 units while low rise sales are expected to hit 8,500 unitsin 2009, resulting in an increased share of new home sales in the lowrise segment for the first time in six years.

Softening resale market conditions have resulted in an increased supply of lower priced resale homes in many GTA neighbourhoods. Discerning buyers will be able to purchase homes at significantly lower prices in the resale market than in the new home market. Reduced pre-construction sales centre traffic will be the result.

This substitution effect will slow price growth in the new home market in 2009 — the average price for a new single detached home will slip by about two per cent to $512,000.
Sales of high rise units will account for about 45 per cent of total sales this year, down from 55 per cent in 2008. While fewer projects are likely to open this year, reducing the total number of condominium units available for sale, project launches and sales are expected to pick up during the latter part of 2009.

Improved financing conditions and lower construction costs passed on by builders will bring more competitively- priced units to the market. Steady immigration to Toronto and favourable demographic shifts will continue to play a major role in increasing demand for new condominium apartments. Lower prices for condominium apartments are especially attractive to newcomers to Canada looking for an entry point into homeownership.

An aging baby boomer population gearing up for retirement will also look towards this housing sector as they look to downsize and minimize housing maintenance. A compositional shift in Toronto’s employment landscape will further add to demand for more affordable housing. Job losses in the goods-producing sector will mean GTA housing demand will rely more heavily on employment in the lowerpaying
services industry.

To read the balance of the report please click here;

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Covering Your Home Base

Covering your home base – come what may 

Owning a home may well be the biggest financial decision you will ever make and the largest debt you will ever take on. But there’s much more to a home than money. It’s your haven, your base, the heart of your family’s life. It’s the place where you live! And you want to make sure your family will be able to enjoy your home come what may. That’s why mortgage insurance makes such good sense – because it ensures your family will always have a home should something happen to you. 

The question is What type of mortgage insurance is best for you? Let’s look at your options. 

Traditional mortgage insurance 

        This is the ‘easy’ option because it’s readily available from your lender as part of your mortgage ‘package’ and the premium is simply added to your monthly mortgage payment – but it’s usually not the best option. 

        The policy has no cash value and the benefits are paid directly to the lender not to your beneficiaries at a time when funds may be required most. So why would you not want to give your beneficiary the option to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate if they exist instead of the lowest (mortgage)?

        Your premiums can be raised or the policy can be cancelled at any time. 

        Your lender owns the policy so if you find a better mortgage rate at another lending institution or move into a new home, you would have to re-qualify medically for new protection, perhaps for much higher premiums. 

        The cost of coverage may increase every year even though your mortgage is being paid down – so you pay more for less and less coverage over the mortgage period. 

        Your coverage ends when the mortgage is paid off. 


Personal life insurance 

        You own the policy – so it insures you not the mortgage. 

        You decide what type of policy is best for you – term or permanent insurance – and designate the beneficiaries who can choose how to use the funds – to pay off the mortgage, provide an income, or take care of immediate needs. 

        Your coverage isn’t reduced by your declining mortgage balance – so your beneficiaries stay protected. 

        Your premiums are guaranteed to remain the same for the life of the plan and only you can cancel or make changes to your plan. 

        Your coverage is portable – take it with you from home to home, mortgage to mortgage, and reduce the amount of coverage when you want. 

        It’s your plan, tailored to your needs with options, features and premiums that suit your budget. You can even add disability or critical illness insurance that can include such benefits as waiving your premiums should you become disabled and providing money so you can continue to make mortgage payments or to pay for medical expenses. 


Your home is important – and that makes mortgage protection important. Talk to your professional advisor to insure you get protection for you and not your lender – and that blends with the needs of your overall financial life.


John Scholl   B. Mathematics, CGA, Wealth Management & Financial Planning


I strive to continually improve my wealth management practice to be worthy of the referrals received. I build my business one introduction at a time, and would consider it a great compliment to be introduced to one of your business associates, friends or family.

Investors Group

 (905) 450-2891 X529   (866) 799-2223  dir   (416) 731-3660

Email: john.scholl@investorsgroup.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yes, I get it You are not a lead

You are not a lead.

You do not want to be sold.

You want to be educated.

There are no endless magnets, branded coffee cups or signs on the side of my car. No Spam emails. No calenders with my face in the middle. No one cares about my family cat or dog and a funny story on my blog.

Create your own search.  Search all the available properties on my site either by MLS number or by address. Search any listing you like.  View all the listings you want.



Empower yourself to know the right questions to ask. Get informed about the market.  Prices and demand are fluctuating.  HST is coming. (the PST and GST will be harmonized and this will lead to price increases.) Find answers to all your real estate questions by using the search by topic feature. Find and read things not found elsewhere.

If you are looking in the Toronto West markets and would like to be treated with respect and honesty and not handled or manipulated, I can provide current references for your consideration.

I want to inform and educate you. I get it. Let's talk.

A big tip of the Hat to 1000 watt consulting for pointing things out we should know.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Print Advertising to Promote Your House


Sellers decide who they will list with based on their perception of the neighbourhood specialist or the marketing plan of the agent. Maybe you have chosen the agent based on a referral from a friend or family member. Each promises you exactly what you need to hear or perceive to have value.

With 20 years of selling in west Toronto, Mississauga I have used various publications over the years to garner new followers and am always looking for a specialized medium that will bring new fresh eyes to my ads. Video is much more effective.

The internet has replaced my conventional newspaper advertising spots. The internet can provide a dedicated website domain for your street address IE 123 Your house dot com and be directed to a page within my websites that is only your house. Views can be counted and verified. Showings result directly in relation to the number of HITS an online ad will have.

The picture caption above is the sadness that I share when Sellers ask for Advertising in Local Newspapers.  I would rather give the client a gift card for a dinner out rather than spending the advertising dollars on endless paper that arrives at the front door of your home only to be rendered directly into the recycling bin. Home owners collect the flyers and rolled newspapers till the box is full and set it to the curb. Newspapers decide their ad publication rates (the prices they charge)  based on the number of houses they deliver to.

It is not just for myself but is reflected in the posted reduced revenue numbers of the Toronto Daily papers.  As I walk streets. door knocking for new listing opportunities I see so many of these recycle bin on the front porch or at the foot of the garage door.

My income is derived from the performance of a service, the knowledge and skill that is brought to the negotiation table to net you the highest dollar in the shortest period of time. By skillfully exposing your home listing to the greatest pool of buyers, in a new medium, will bring feet to your front door. Why not follow me on Twitter or sign up at this website to receive email updates monthly about the changing Toronto Real Estate market.

Isn't that a better and timely idea?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hire an experienced full time agent

Select a Full Time Experienced Realtor  who will follow your lawful instructions and act in your best interest. Find someone who embraces new technologies to reach the greatest possible audience for your Home or Condo. Speak to some one who counts all the initials, crosses all the T's and dot's the I's. Real Estate is a big dollar venture that requires attention to detail. Experience is not expensive. It is nonetheless Priceless.

An agent who is centered to a smaller neighbourhood will be more inclined to know the activity and history better of the local streets, Places of Worship, services and schools.

Talk with an agent who will provide you all the options available to you, from an independant perspective. Once you have made your choice and your decision, I follow your instructions. If you are considering a move to the West side of Toronto, Etobicoke, Mississauga or even Oakville, I would like to hear from you.

The Real Estate industry is undergoing a rapid change with the improvement of technology and the empowerment of the consuming public. While having access to information is a great thing it, sometimes creates indecision by having too many choices to be made prior to actually taking any steps.

No matter the value of your home, David Pylyp has the tools to market it, to your neighbourhood or across the country, bringing Buyers to you. It is this ability that sets David Pylyp apart from traditional real estate brokerages. [His] name and RE/MAX are well recognized in Toronto as internet leaders & in times of market uncertainty we believe great branding is a necessity, not a luxury. For more information on our marketing strategies we invite you to contact us.
 
Interview a few experienced Realtors about their length of time licensed, the additional skills and history that they bring to support your housing sale. Are they familiar with your area of the city? How will they market the home? Ask for samples of previous marketing brochures? Are they using virtual Tours? Do they have Flash Presentations online? Can you have a domain name for your home? Will they readily offer you references that can be contacted?

For Buyers; are they able to digitize the entire transaction into a mini-cd for future reference; both for presentations and storage of vital details like Home Inspections, Financing Commitments, Surveys, Rules and Regulations, Floor plans etc., Ask how many people they work with at any given time or are you handed off to a fresh face?

Will they offer you a Satisfaction Guarantee?  Ask them how often you will have updates on their home. I personally strive for a weekly activity discussion to analyze feed back and observations. The real estate market can change almost weekly with fluctuations in values.

Establish your priorities.

The first issue is financing; the budget for your purchase or your sale and purchase. Get qualified by a Trusted Mortgage Advisor. If you buy before you sell, you many have two homes. If sold, before you purchase, you may be living with your in-laws.

Consider neighbourhoods or an area that would suit your future housing. Will it be near the subway?  Is getting to work on public transit an issue? How long will the commute take? Is there airport noise, How close are we to the highway, main street, shopping mall. Have the schools been built?

After your interview, talk amongst yourselves about who you felt would work in your best interest to have the home sold in the shortest period of time, with the greatest IMPACT in marketing and the least stress and disruption in your lifestyle.

There are four components to the real estate transaction. First, is the pricing of your home through a Comparable Market Evaluation . We have the presentation of your home; being the staging and curb appeal, home repaint touch-ups, first impressions of flooring, tidy and declutter advice, de-personalize your home so that buyers will see it for their lifestyle. Next,  promotion; being flash mini cd presentations, email-able brochures to market you, advertisements to myriad websites for maximum draw to your web pages, Digital Pictures to present your home online. Finally there is negotiation. Having been with RE/MAX for 20 years has provided a wealth of experience and history to draw from.

Once sold, you need to consider your countdown to closing and your obligations and commitments. We are at this point in transaction management, making sure all parties have arranged for everything that was contractually bound.  We will see you on closing day, at the lawyers office, to make sure everything is as was expected and on moving day with Pizza and Keys for the new place. Its just an extra step you save.

I welcome your calls comments or questions without any obligation. There is a Call Me button on the Home Page of my website that can connect us instantly


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

MLS Sales Toronto The Sky didn't fall!


Greater Toronto REALTORS® report 8,107 Resales in April

TORONTO, May 6, 2009 - In April 2009, Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 8,107 sales – down seven per cent from April 2008. While April sales remained lower than last year, the  resale housing market gained momentum on a month-over-month basis. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales in April, at 80,900, was up 26 per cent from March and up twothirds compared to January’s ten-year low.1

“Conditions in the resale housing market have improved markedly this spring,” according to TREB President Maureen O’Neill. “Home purchases have increased as households have taken
advantage of low interest rates and slightly lower home prices.”

The average price for April transactions was $385,641 – down three per cent from last year.

“The rate of average price decline continued to diminish last month. This is due in large part to a
tightening in the resale market,” stated Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market 
Analysis. “The level of sales relative to new listings increased in April.”

Download complete report HERE  If you would like to receive the Market watch report and my monthly newletters and ramblings please complete the sign in details here; 

April Sales were strong at 3,078 units and 9,157 listings available. This is reflected in the fact that 5087 units were listed in that same period. Days outstanding to sell west Toronto 37 days.

Should you be considering the sale of your home I would be pleased to provide you with a Market Evaluation.





Monday, May 4, 2009

Trimming Your Custom Built Dream Home


You have finally decided on the neighbourhood that your Dream Home will be built. Is it in Eatonville, or Princess Margaret?   Will you decide to be near the Humberview Plaza at Royal York and Dundas or closer to the subway access at Islington or Kipling?

The house that you purchased was repainted and staged for sale, a bit of waste and shame given that the old house will be levelled and rebuilt with your Dream Home.  When you commited to the purchase you didn't even go inside, you walked the property and looked at the majestic oak trees in the backyard and wondered if it would survive the reconstruction. Will the yard allow you that outside fireplace as the family gathering point on chilly evenings or entertaining?

You already have plans in mind and have been in conversations with the Custom Home builder of your choice to finalize the floorplans and materials list. There are literally thousands of decisions to be made that cannot be undone just by changing your mind.

We realize that the focal point for family lifestyle is the kitchen, but the IMPACT point for first impressions is the front hall and foyer and the display of the centre staircase.  How will you accent the open wood stairs? Have you decided on marble? Will you decide on white risers and a dark tread (steps)  or will you you leave that natural wood stained finish shine?  Have you consider a wrought iron staircase?

The best display that accents the foyer is the wrought iron railing that wraps the stairs and protects your family. The wrought iron work is a statement about yourself and your taste, your achievements and a compliment to the stylings of the house; whether they be ornate, olde world or contemporary.

Alex Gorgiovski from B O creative Steel (here in Toronto)  said "The staircase and the railings make a statement about the house and it's owners."   "The railings can be made to frame a Juliette Balcony from a second level that frames the foyer visually or run from the upper level direct down to the lower level as a continuation of the same theme."  He continued to add that repairs and restoration work was also available from his olde world trained craftsmen to expertly match existing work to make repairs.

Alex said "We specialize in wrought iron staircases, railings, gates, and fences. Everything we sell, we make right here in Toronto."  If you have any questions you can reach Alex at the office, 416 335 3409 or cell 647 407 0034

If you are considering the renovation of the interior of your home, take advantage of the home renovation tax credit; that you investigate Alex's catolgue of available railings and decorative peices. You may find something that accentuates your home far from the ordinary.

If you are considering the construction of your Dream Home in Etobicoke I invite you to contact me to select a property suitable for reconstruction. Lets get you building!



Sunday, May 3, 2009

HST will box home buyers, builders into bizarre deals

I learned of a new term in the housing industry last week. "White box" refers to a newly constructed house or condominium unit that is built to the minimum standards necessary to comply with the Ontario Building Code.

It may have one sink, one toilet and one bathtub. The floors will be raw plywood, the landscaping and kitchen unfinished, and the drywall will only be painted with one coat of white primer – thus the name white box. The unit will be sufficiently completed to comply with municipal occupancy requirements, but it will be a shell.

Although this type of construction has rarely been seen in the local housing market, there is a good likelihood it will become very popular if the McGuinty government introduces its legislation harmonizing the provincial sales tax with the federal goods and services tax (GST).

Under the harmonized tax (HST) regime, the buyer of a new home priced under $400,000 would receive a rebate of 75 per cent of the provincial portion of the sales tax. Effectively, then, the builder of a $400,000 home would be charging the consumer about $2,000 in provincial sales tax, about the same amount of tax that is included in the house price today.

The provincial sales tax (PST) rebate disappears on a home priced at $500,000, which is assessed the full 8 per cent tax of $40,000.

At present, the price of a $500,000 house includes about $10,000 in provincial sales tax on items such as lumber and bricks. Under harmonization, the tax on that home jumps from 2 to 8 percent – an increase of $30,000.

Put simply, today a builder sells a home for $400,000, which includes $2,000 in PST. Under the harmonized tax, the price is the same. But if the builder prices a home at $500,000, the harmonized tax will mean the house has to sell for $530,000 – a 6 per cent increase.

For that $100,000 home price increase, consumers next year will face a sales tax increase of $30,000. On a $600,000 home, the new taxes will be $36,000.

So let's assume that next summer a buyer wants a house which today sells for $500,000. The price of that house after harmonization kicks in will be $530,000.

Frank Giannone, president of the Ontario Home Builders' Association, told me that when the HST kicks in, he will be forced to explore with customers interested in homes priced at more than $400,000 whether they would be interested in buying a "white box" house to keep the price under $400,000.

Here's how it would work. The builder and buyer of a $500,000 house agree to strip out about $100,000 in extras, so the home sells for just $400,000 including the "old" PST.

The buyer then makes a separate arrangement with another contractor to finish the house with $100,000 worth of extras, such as kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, bathroom tile, flooring, upgraded electrical fixtures, painting and landscaping. If the contractor works for cash, there is no 13 per cent tax, and the total price of the house will be $500,000. If the original builder did the $100,000 worth of extra work, the house price, including tax, would be $530,000.

Faced with a choice of paying $500,000 or $530,000 for the same house or condominium, most of the new home buyers I know would opt for the cheaper route.

Of course, the question arises as to whether the additional work would void the Tarion new home warranty, but that depends on many factors, including the type of work done and whether the second contractor is a registered home builder.

The way I see it, current plans for tax harmonization pose a huge danger to the $37.8 billion residential construction industry, and point to a huge growth in the underground economy involving cash deals to complete white-box houses.

Harmonization will be devastating for housing affordability at the worst possible time for the provincial economy. As presently structured, it's a huge mistake.


Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and a director of the Tarion Warranty Corporation.  He can be reached by email at bob@aaron.ca, phone 416-364-9366 or fax 416-364-3818.  Visit the column archives at http://aaron.ca/columns/toronto-star-index.htm for articles on this and other topics.

"For the first time, however, the PST component of the harmonized sales tax would apply to the selling price of the home and not just to the materials that went into it. The HST kicks in at $400,000 on a sliding scale rising to full rate at the $500,000 mark.

If the PST component continues at the 8-per-cent rate, that means 6 per cent more in taxes on the price of those new homes."

So where is all of this going?   We are all worried about the economy and how housing and manufacturing jobs are vital to our economic survival; yet the government continues on determined to raise the highest revenue possible without due consideration about possibly putting its own house in order.

Other authors ( The Greater Fool) have been proponents of the sky is falling theory and 30- 50 percent drops in value like our American neighbours, but the delinquency with mortgages is still at 1% as it has historically been. Garth recently posted that the mini boom  (referred to online as the dead cat bounce) will be short lived and there will be indeed a collapse in values.

What are your thoughts?  Will this slow or delay your home purchase?  Will you accelerate you plans to move in Toronto because of a new tax?  

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What a great weekend in West Toronto Roncesvalles Village


Had the need to slip into the old stomping grounds in Roncesvalles Villages on Saturday morning.
The pedestrian traffic was incredible at noon.  People out with their strollers, carrying purchases and seemingly on a mission. The Fruit Market was just bustling!

I was parked at the corner of Wright and Roncesvalles and expertly avoided the Green Hornets that seem to hide behind trees it would seem to trap traffic violators at every opportunity.  I wonder how this will effect the Roncesvalles sidewalk expansion planned for later this year.

The busiest store that I could see was the West Side Cycle between Fermanagh and Wright Avenues. They were just bustling with people in and out with their bicycles in for spring tuning and wheel straightening after our long hard winter.  There were a few banana seat bicycles with streamers that I remember from my past and a few 10 speed racers that will be circling High Park.

A few doors north is Aris Place that was recently featured on BlogTO for their famous  souvlaki.
"Their souvlaki and their fish and chips are decent bang-for-your-buck diner eats, and I'm really tempted to go back for the "mega breakfast" next time I'm in the hood."

The Royal Bank has recently moved it's Roncesvalles presence a little further south from Fermanagh to Fern. When ever I see the exterior, even though it has been renovated as the Royal Bank facade with internet banking machines and kiosks, I still see the old SS. Kresges store front.

If you have considered living in the west end of the city, and would like information about Roncesvalles Village or Bloor West feel free to drop me an email.  If you are a resident in this fine community and are considering selling, I would appreciate hearing from you. 

Feel free to comment and add a memory of your own about Roncesvalles Village.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What would you do with 500 - 1000 fresh page views per day?

Realtors need to embrace technology. We need to be abreast of new improvements that let us reach out to find Buyers for Listings, Sellers to List and Realtors to network for future referral business.

Websites provide an incredible marketing opportunity to showcase your talents and skills.
You can acquire a templated website or custom design a functional showcase for yourself. Both have benefits. Both have limitations.

My personal website journey began some six years ago when I acquired a point2agent site and added a templated site and waited for the Buyers and Sellers to find me. I received hundred of calls from SEO optimizations companies that would rank me First on Google for the paltry sum of $800 to $1,500 per month.

If their efforts ceased, what would happen to my website traffic?

Like a car on cruise control, (where there is no renewing content) You simply run out of gas and slow peacefully to a dead stop.

Everything that I have done online has been for free. It takes time and energy to SEO optimize a website and I can share a number of simple points with you here.

First, You need to create content in your website that is not advertorial about YOU. The website is not about you. The website is the market you serve and the services you provide. If you are looking for a car online you will not see the saleman's cheery smile on every page of content. The car will not flash, shimmer, dance before your eyes. It will be displayed from every conceivable angle to highlite the car's features.

We need to apply this lesson to real estate. Showcase the home. Feature the property, Highlite the exteriors. Display the benefits.

Advertise your items for sale. There are dozens if not hundreds of FREE, Yes FREE websites online that need and crave content for their own readership. Syndicate your ads to a number of different websites to gain readership that would not necessarily cross your path. Advertise yourself and your services on these sites and how you are a benefit to the owner.

Blogging- well Blogging is Blogging. there is a whole world that can gain you readership and credibility in a community by blogging about 1,000's of different blogging ideas. I'll leave that to you. Google free blogging ideas. You willl be innundated with things to draw concepts and ideas. Whether your choice is to blog about family and events or real estate matters exclusively is a personal choice. Everything is for good.

Directories and Links Back Links to your site. It is imperative, and normal that in the course of posting content, that you hyperlink to sites that are the source of your authority. (Remember footnotes on an essay?) This now extends further into Listing yourself on every directory that permits free postings. They KEY is free. The backlink directory can also become your own national referral network.

Make use of Google analytics to view and monitor the sources of traffic. What keywords are they searching for? Which websites directed them to you. Thats where you need to develop content and fine tune your webpages and landing pages.

Read and Google all the information you need to educate and increase your level of awareness about the tasks to drive your website successfully. If have never driven a car you understand the concept of driving but in reality you have no experience if no one tells you need to start the car first.

Many companies are offering the holy grail of traffic. Traffic without content does not convert. Conversion is measured tangibly by the number of people who sign in for something on your website or start an email dialogue with you. Do you wish to have 20 - 40 new prospects cross your (email) desk every month? Do you want the phone to ring with Buyers and Sellers who do not want to be bothered emailing you and want an immediate voice response.

Oh My Gosh, An agent who actually wants Prospects to call them. What a marvelous concept.

When you started in real estate you needed to learn new skills. On the MLS you needed to learn new systems. With website you need to learn how to code and load pages. Develop a focus or theme for your online presence. Participate with Active Rain, follow me on Twitter, Maybe you would like to video broadcast yourself on Youtube and reach a new audience.

I welcome your comments and experiences. What is your unique service proposition? Mine is online.