Thursday, February 25, 2021

200 Posts on My Search for a Home

Apparently I just surpassed 200 posts on My Search for a Home.

What started as blog for fun and later morphed into a real estate website which makes me some extra income just keeps growing thanks to people wanting to advertise their real estate websites, home insurance, etc. (This is a habit I have... Everything I touch turns into money somehow.)

It also led to me creating a sister blog ProjectGridless.ca which is all about off grid real estate, solar panels and wind turbines, etc.

People looking for advertising on either website should email me via charlesmoffat@charlesmoffat.com.

I am curious what this website will look like in 9 years (2030) as I should own a home by then. I suspect it might include more topics related home insurance, home repairs, gardening, etc. So I have a feeling the website will morph over time.

If we later sell that house and get a different house that could lead to another series of blog posts about that whole process too.

Toronto Home Rentals - Finding what you want is Difficult

So my wife and I have been very happy living in Leaside for the past many years, but we're now looking for a new place for us, our son, and my mother-in-law.

There is a big catch however. We ideally want to rent a house that has a bedroom on the first floor so that my mother-in-law won't have to climb the stairs.

This also means we need a full bathroom on the first floor so that my mother-in-law doesn't need to climb the stairs to reach the bathroom.

However finding a house that is for rent... In the area we are looking for... With a minimum of 3 bedrooms... With at least 1 bedroom + 1 full bathroom on the ground floor... With room for 2 cars in the driveway or garage...

Well, it is proving to be difficult.

Plus coupled with the fact that landlords are sometimes, unfortunately, racist. We have encountered this particular problem twice already where landlords are coming up with excuses not to rent to us. Not because of money reasons, my wife is a lawyer, I am gainfully employed as a personal trainer whenever COVID is not interfering with my work, and my mother-in-law is retired and has a hefty pension plan from the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP). So we definitely have the money, but landlords are a sketchy bunch when it comes to renting to African-Canadians.

As a Caucasian I admit this is my first time encountering this problem. I am admittedly used to just asking to rent a place and people just automatically saying "Yes, sure you can rent it!" Most of the places I have rented in the past didn't even ask for a credit check. (Yes, you read that correctly. White people are not used to having credit checks when we ask to rent an apartment or a house. People just usually take us on our word that we can afford the place. I fully recognize that I have been benefiting from white privilege for decades.)

There also seems to be a lack of availability in the East York region of Toronto that we are looking in, so we don't really have a lot of options.

We can...

  1. Look elsewhere. We might have more luck in a different neighbourhood.
  2. Wait and keep looking for new places to come on the market in the desired neighbourhood.
  3. Do both 1 and 2.

Really those are our only options right now.

I have to assume that somewhere out there is a landlord who isn't racist with a house that fits our needs.

The parking issue alone is annoying. Not every home even comes with a lane way or garage and some streets just use "on street parking", which unfortunately gets into legalities of where homeowners can actually park their cars without fear of being towed.


The other big issue happening right now is...

COVID.

Which makes viewing homes a little bit trickier, but COVID has also thrown a wrench into the works with respect to house prices and also home rental prices.

What we have noticed is that the prices for renting a house keep coming down, which should really make landlords eager to find a renter - regardless of the colour of their skin! But apparently racist landlords would rather earn less money than rent to someone who is African-Canadian or to an interracial couple.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Record Low Interest Rates

Record low interest rates for mortgages are keeping Toronto's real estate market at record highs. Torontonians are buying houses for incredible prices (often in bidding wars) despite the fact that we still have a pandemic going on.

Honestly I wonder if we had a war - possibly even a major war - if we might still be seeing this trend so long as the interest rates are super low and people feel safer in "a new house in the suburbs".

Meanwhile the CERB, CESB and various other measures like a moratorium on evictions have kept the Canadian economy alive, but in the next few months CERB and CESB are being phased out and evictions will resume. Those measures kept the Canadian economy going and Canadians spending money.

It could be that we shall see the true effects on the economy during the next 9 months if we see more companies declaring bankruptcy. There has already been dozens of large scale bankruptcies during the past 5 months of the pandemic, effecting tens of thousands of employees.

Similarly low oil prices means that various parts of Canada have shut down oil production, and yet gasoline prices remain high - proof that gas companies are continuing to unfairly gouge Canadians.

Thus I cannot help but feel that even though Canadian home buyers are benefiting currently from record low interest rates that we are standing on a precipice of what could be the biggest recession or depression in decades. I don't think the current situation is sustainable. Housing prices will have to crash eventually when a recession finally hits, and hits hard.

Canada managed to avoid the housing bubble bursting in 2008. Instead prices have continued to balloon, largely due to low interest rates.

But even record low interest rates must have a limit for how much they can stave off a recession or depression.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Home Buyers Insurance

There are many different kinds of insurance out there.

Eg. Mortgage Life Insurance and Homeowners Insurance

Home Buyers Insurance is literally another term for Mortgage Life Insurance. It is insurance aimed usually at married couples who are worried one of them might die and then they could lose their home due to the loss of income within the family.

It makes sense, especially for couples where one of them doesn't work or is unable to work due to disability. If the breadwinner dies and they were responsible for paying off the mortgage, the Mortgage Life Insurance (aka Home Buyers Insurance) kicks in and pays off the mortgage. Due to the variable value of the home the insurance typically starts off more expensive and then as the value of the mortgage is paid off the insurance gets cheaper over time*.

* This and the exact amount may vary on the insurance provider.

However I think there is room in the market for a different kind of Home Buyers Insurance. Namely a new type of insurance which is specifically about buying a new home which might have something wrong with it and the previous owners or their real estate broker/lawyer did not reveal anything wrong with the property.

  1. There could be a leaky sub-basement they failed to mention.
  2. There could be something wrong with the plumbing or wiring.
  3. There could be a lien on the property that wasn't disclosed.
  4. The property could have some legal matter that is unresolved involving neighbours or the city and that was the reason the previous owners were eager to sell.
  5. Other unknown factors. Eg. Fraud, misrepresentation, stolen identity, etc.
Basically the idea is that you buy the insurance at the time of the purchase of your new home in the event the previous owners tried to pull a fast one on you. The property would still need to be inspected and assessed, but in the event they missed something that the previous owners failed to mention and the issue turns out to be expensive the insurance would kick in and cover the costs (including any legal costs).

As far as I can tell nobody has invented such insurance yet, and it certainly should not be confused with "Home Buyers Insurance" because although the name certainly sounds apt for the type of insurance I am describing, it doesn't cover the same thing.

See Also

Homeowners Insurance Scams

Average Homeowners Insurance Losses

Monday, July 20, 2020

Why did China ban skyscrapers?



China recently passed a ban on the building of new skyscrapers that are over 500 meters tall, leading to new buildings being cut short at 499 meters to make sure they fall within regulations.

But why?

Is it because the Chinese government is worried about earthquakes?

Is it because they are worried about shoddy construction?

Or is it because they are worried about Ponzi schemes in which real estate developers build new structures for investors, and then pay off older investors by attracting new investors for other buildings that haven't yet been built... and they still manage to make a profit because they are cutting corners on construction costs, which in turn contributes to shoddy construction and increases the risk of more damages if a big earthquake ever hits the region?

Honestly... probably "All of the above."

And even those buildings that are below 500 meters are now being reviewed for earthquake safety and energy efficiency.

Lastly the Chinese government also wants to make certain that the architects "better represent Chinese culture"... which is code for 'the architect has to be Chinese'. No hiring American or Japanese architects for example.

So clearly something is up.

China has been building up a huge real estate bubble for decades now and it is doomed to burst sometime.

It is quite possible that the Chinese government is now working to prevent such a bursting bubble by toning down the construction with more red tape and regulations.

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