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Monday, December 2, 2013

6 Bizarre Cabins

I personally prefer campings, but if I was to live in Northern Ontario (and go hunting and fishing regularly) I think I would prefer to live in a cabin as it is more permanent.

I am not sure I would want one of these weird structures as my cabin, but they are certainly interesting.








Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Moved into a new apartment!

I have moved into a new place in Leaside, Toronto.

More details to come!

It is an older building (the buzzer system is so ancient is is funny!) in a nice quiet neighbourhood. A short bus ride from the nearest subway station.

There is so many grocery stores near me its mindboggling. The pharmacies are a bit more widespread compared to my old place, but then again my old place was higher density and Leaside feels like suburbia in contrast.

On the plus side I am also ridiculously close to many parks, including the Toronto Public Archery Range. Huzzah.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Toronto Fog and Tall Buildings

Foggy today. Passed by the new building south of College and Yonge... It is so tall you cannot see the top on a foggy today. Huzzah for skyscrapers in Toronto!



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Antoine Berthelet Avenue in Montreal / The Mafia in Canada



The photo you are looking at above is a Google Street View photo of Antoine Berthelet Avenue in Montreal.

The reason why is because the homes on this quiet looking street are home to many of the Sicilian mobster families in Canada - which incidentally make a lot of interesting real estate deals thanks to corrupt government officials and dirty politicians.

The street is basically Canada's mafia headquarters - and they are filthy stinking rich, so they should have some pretty interesting houses right?

The Sicilian families who live there - all part of the Rizzuto family syndicate - own the whole street. So lets look at some of the nicer houses on the street and see what kind of houses known criminals live in. (You can do this yourself on Google Street View sometime, it is really fun.)

So I shall post some photos of the houses I think look best and then we can talk about their houses and later the role of the mafia in Canada's real estate industry later.

Interesting Factoid - Montreal Godfather Nicolo (Nick) Rizzuto was shot and killed with a sniper rifle through the kitchen window of his house (I don't know which house is his, but I am guessing it is one with nice big kitchen windows). The hitman whom the police believe did it was Toronto's Salvatore (Sam) Calautti, working for a rival family, was gunned down by a hitman working for the Rizzuto family in Toronto in July 2013. [Read more, Toronto Star article.]

Note - Vito Rizzuto, Nicolo's son and the Montreal Godfather since his father's death, was released from an American prison in October 2012 and has since ordered a killing spree of hits on the family's enemies. He is currently living in a very high security apartment in Montreal because Antoine Berthelet Avenue is now considered too dangerous for enemies to just waltz into and start shooting at him.

I was surprised there was no walls around the homes. Canada's mafia likes to blend in.

I like the hedges and its castle-like qualities.

Not very wheelchair friendly, but impressive never the less.

Very small windows on this house, and it looks scary.

I like the different architectural styles. You can definitely feel some Italian architecture slipping in.

The bars on the windows are interesting, as is the gardener carrying a large bag of something to his truck.

Some of them are even really modern looking. A surprising change.

Feels a bit like the White House, complete with gardener's truck. I have a hunch he gardens for the whole neighbourhood.

Kind of boring looking, and those windows are freaking huge. If anyone wanted to shoot through them it would be easy.
There is no doubt a lot of history on Antoine Berthelet Avenue in Montreal. And I am not just referring to the assassination by sniper bullet on November 10th 2010 through the kitchen window.

I would not be surprised if the RCMP had agents lurking around the neighbourhood regularly trying to get surveillance footage and audio evidence which could help lead them to major busts. If you ever wanted to see a mafia hit happen, you could just hang out near this street and wait to hear gunfire.

Anywho.

The Role of the Mafia in Canadian Real Estate

Did you know that quite a few politicians are easily corruptible and take bribes from "re-election donations"? No! Say it ain't so! That can't be true!

It is like a complete stereotype that politicians - and also civil service government workers - take bribes on a regular basis. Bribing a civil service employee is a crime after all, but it is one that rarely gets caught.

Lets say for example that you want to build a whole new suburb in the north end of a city. You bought the land already, but you need to get city approval to start building and then selling the properties. And if possible, you can also get city funding - and overcharge them a lot for "unforeseen costs" that balloon easily. And if anyone refuses to play, you bribe them, intimidate them, or arrange an accident for them. After all, when you have hitmen at your disposal you can make a lot of money off perfectly legal land deals by making illegal bribes, coercion, death threats, and making examples of people who don't play along.

And the city is stuck with funding part of a land development designed to make the mafia lots of money, it is all legal on paper, and the spending problems are handled by local taxpayers.

So yes, if you live in a city that sees a lot of land development going on and there is an organized crime presence in your city, guaranteed you are being robbed via your municipal land taxes by the mafia.

And if you live in Ontario or Quebec, a lot of that is controlled by the Rizzuto family in Montreal - whom many of them live on Antoine Berthelet Avenue. How quaint. Your taxes helped pay for those houses you saw above.

Now the beauty of the mafia in Canada is that they rarely get caught. As in practically never get caught.

Their money-laundering is often done via bogus charities and other sophisticated and unsupervised outfits - and sometimes even government run operations, like the recent Canada Revenue Agency cheque for "Nick Rizzuto" for $381,737.46... even though he owed CRA $1.55 million at the time (for legitimate business deals, which is often real estate in the case of the mafia because real estate deals are often a good way to launder money). [Read more about this story from the CBC.] The cheque is labelled "income tax refund" and is dated Sept. 13, 2007.

Events like people noticing a CRA cheque for $381,737.46 to a now deceased mafia godfather are certainly a rarity.

Now if you read the CBC article you will note the cheque was noticed by a veteran auditor and that he couldn't figure out how such a big cheque, made out to someone who was a known mafioso, let alone someone who owed CRA $1.55 million managed to get past the internal controls which monitors large cheques like that.

It means that someone at CRA was definitely on the mafia payroll and probably got a chunk of money themselves for arranging that rather large fraud.

So it isn't just real estate deals that the Canadian mafia is stealing money from the general public via taxes - they are evening robbing the Canada Revenue Agency, which is Canada's largest tax collector. Which means you are also getting robbed via the HST and income taxes.

Now admittedly Canada's population in 2007 at the time of the theft was approx. 33,115,000, so stealing $381,737 is only about 1.15 cents per person in taxes that the rest of us pays... but if you add in the $1.55 million Nick Rizzuto owed in taxes, it is really more like he stole $1,931,737.46 - roughly 6 cents per person.

But hey, why quibble over pennies and nickles right?

Well, did you know the mafia is deeply invested in real estate construction companies too? Including those that build nuclear reactors in Canada... and now you know why the building or refurbishing of nuclear reactors often costs 10 to 20 times more than what the estimates are. If the estimate for construction is $10 million, by the time it is done it will have ballooned to $100 to $200 million - and guaranteed the mafia took a cut during the process because they own a construction companies in Canada. Legitimate businesses everyone, but the difference is that once they are a government payroll all they have to do is bribe the right people and costs can be inflated dramatically.

Here is a fun article to read... Inside Montreal's Mafia Wars. In it you will see the following lines.

A top city hall engineer has admitted to taking almost $600,000 in kickbacks from construction companies. And the city’s former manager has been accused of pocketed $300,000 in bribes.

And lots of other interesting details about the mafia in Montreal and their role in construction companies, city bribes, etc.

Here is the shortened version, narrowed down to real estate related items (with my notes in parentheses).

#1. The article starts off by how the mafia rigs construction bids for government real estate projects, which led to costs being 30% over what they should have been - an extra cost paid by Montreal taxpayers.

#2. The RCMP ignored the real estate fraud, because they wanted to catch Rizzuto for drug smuggling operations. (The RCMP have forgotten that mafia members can be much more easily be caught for simple tax evasion. Which is how Al Capone was caught in 1931.)

#3. The construction companies under Rizzuto received approx. $500 million worth of city contracts during the four years of 2006 until 2009. (That is roughly $125 million per year, and assuming that they are jacking the price up 30% regularly to gouge the city, that means the mafia was robbing Montreal taxpayers by roughly $37.5 million per year. Montreal's 3.6 million people were getting robbed for roughly $10.42 each - every year.)

#4. Then the bit about the top city hall engineer admitting to taking almost $600,000 in kickbacks from construction companies. And the city’s former manager being accused of pocketed $300,000 in bribes. And then the mayor's assistant Frank Zampino taking at least $500,000. (With a name like Zampino, do you think he might be connected to the mafia? Not to get into profiling, but his name sounds like a James Bond villain...)

#5. And then there is the allegation that there is 3% kickback on all construction contracts went to the mayor himself, via a scheme that used construction workers union as a way to funnel cash back towards the personal coffers of the mayor.

#6. One of the people deeply involved in the real estate scandal and accepted bribes managed to get away with it and now works as a policy adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Ha!

With Montreal Godfather Vito Rizzuto released from American prison in October 2012 he has since gone on a killing spree using hitmen - killing many of the enemies of the Rizzuto family who harmed his family during his 5 year stay in the US prison system. When he is done killing his enemies and resecuring their family's supremacy in the mafia underworld, he will no doubt turn more of his attention back to making lots of money via real estate construction fraud.

I would argue that real estate construction fraud might actually be more profitable than drug smuggling. Think about it.

Drug smuggling there is lots of competition and the smuggler really is only the middle man. So while the cartels make money, the smugglers make money, the bribed cops make money to look the other way, the low level drug dealers on the streets make money, and there is really only a small percentage going to the kingpins demanding their cut. How much? Who knows.

But if there is so much competition from rival drug smugglers (who are a dime a dozen) then it probably isn't going to be that profitable. After all there is all the different gangs running their own smuggling operations, and they don't need to go through the Italians at all. They can get it from the Russians, the Irish, whatever gangs they happen to work closely with.

In contrast the Italian mafia owns many of the construction companies in major cities across Canada - Montreal and Toronto are the two big cities that the Rizzuto family controls. There is no competition. Some of their business is even legitimate, which means they can pass easily as being unimportant and stay under the radar.

Which is just how the mafia in Canada likes to stay. Low key. Unobtrusive. Stealing from your pocket when you don't even know they are stealing from you.

If you asked the average man from Montreal what they would do if someone punched them in the nose and then stole $40 from their wallet and give them three options.

#1. Punch the thief back and get back your $40.
#2. Let them go.
#3. Call the police and by the time you finish the call the thief has gotten away.

Most Montreal men would probably say #1.

Next you tell them that between 2006 and 2009 the Rizzuto family stole over $40 from each Montrealer (man, woman and child) via their land taxes then they would be upset.

And they should be. Because Canadians are being robbed blind.

Not just in Montreal either. Toronto and many other cities across Ontario and Quebec are being defrauded on a regular basis. And not just cities either. Road works, bridges, hydroelectric dams, nuclear plants, basically any kind of construction work is vulnerable to jacked up prices and real estate construction fraud.

And you might think "Oh but I don't pay land taxes because I rent." But your landlord pays land taxes, so it amounts to the same thing.

So trust me, unless you are living homeless on the streets (not paying any land taxes at all) then you are getting robbed via your taxes by the Montreal Mafia.

Capiche?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Worst condo sales in a decade in Toronto, August

The number of new condos that sold in the Greater Toronto Area during the month of August 2013 dropped to a mere 633, making it the lowest level for that month in a decade, according to RealNet Canada Inc.

That is a 18% drop from the dismal 772 sales in August 2012. And way below the 1,923 sales in August of 2011.

Toronto’s condo market is cooling so fast it has policy makers in Ottawa worried that if the condo market collapses, the housing market might go too - and thus dropping Canada into the biggest recession we have seen in decades. (2007-2009 will seem like a minor blip).

The Finance Department and Bank of Canada are justifiably concerned.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed concern in 2012 that too many new condo units were being built, a phenomenon that will ultimately lead to a crash - especially since so many were being built on credit borrowed from Canadian banks. The Bank of Canada has said that such a financial crash will pose a threat to the country’s broader economy and possibly even hurt the US economy too as many American investors are amongst those investing in Toronto condos with the intention of flipping them for a profit.

Real estate agents, brokers and pundits (myself amongst them) say the warnings have already been having an impact on the market, by causing some buyers to think twice about getting in to the Toronto condo market. But is it enough to prevent a crash by warning people not to invest? Doubtful. Most of the investors are Americans or from overseas, and they're borrowing Canadian bank money to make the investment - so if a crash happens and they lose their investment, it will be Canadian banks left holding the bag because the foreign investors will just pull out and ignore any legal threats from afar. (Because if you hold a foreign debt it really isn't that big of a deal if you just avoid that country for 7 years or so.)

For his part Mr. Flaherty has tried taking a number of steps to cool the real estate market, most notably tightening the mortgage insurance rules 14 months ago. One of the changes he made was to cut the maximum length of an insured mortgage to 25 years from 30, a move that took a number of first-time buyers out of the market (and first time buyers are more risky) and cooled it down a bit.

But such moves won't deter the overseas investors, who see Toronto's real estate market as being stable and think they can beat the odds and make a killing in profit BEFORE the market collapses.

But looking at the sales records, it is obvious the market is slowing and will stall sometime in the next year or so.

The total number of new homes, both low-rise and high-rise, that have sold in the Toronto area so far this year stands at 16,775, making it the lowest year-to-date total of the last 10 years.

There were 777 sales of new low-rise houses during August. That is 43 per cent below the 10-year average for the month of August. So the slowdown is effecting the housing market, not just condo sales.

While a growing number of tall condo towers are dotting the city’s skyline, the amount of land that’s available for the construction of new low-rise homes is constrained because of government policies aimed at curbing urban sprawl and maintaining green space. That means that condo growth is the future of Toronto, but it has to be built at a sustainable rate.

The price gap between new high-rise condos and low-rise houses has widened to a record level of $222,149. The low-rise price index rose 8.1 per cent over the past year to a record high of $658,938, while the high-rise price index eked out a mere 0.1 per cent gain to $436,789. What it means is that homebuyers definitely want houses more - and it is driving up prices faster, whereas condos are considered to be more risky despite the lower prices.

The gap between the price of condos and houses averaged about $75,000 between 2004 and 2011, but the gap has been growing at a fast clip during the last two years now that condos are flooding the market and becoming cheaper comparatively.

Many people swear off condos entirely, stating that the maintenance fees are way too high - and this is true for some condo buildings where they have gone overboard on expenses.

The unsold inventory of new low-rise houses now stands at 7,247, RealNet said, while there are 21,028 new unsold condos.

The month of August also marked the fourth straight decline in high-rise inventory, as developers have been bringing fewer new condo units to market of late. But economists say that the number of new condo buildings going up that will hit the market in 2014 - and even more that will be finished in 2015.

So we will see that unsold inventory of condos rise from 21,000 to 30,000 or 40,000 within the next couple of years.

At which time prices should drop significantly, which means people with the money available should be able to buy a condo for a lot less money when the market bottoms out.


Finding a good real estate agent

Whether you plan to sell your current home or buy a new home, you need to find a real estate agent you can depend on. Sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin looking, especially if you don't have a good and solid referral from a friend or family member.

Doing the research yourself can be time-consuming, difficult and frustrating since you won't always be able to find all the necessary information to give you a full picture of prospective agents to help you figure out who might best serve your needs. When it comes to finding the ideal realtor for you, Agent Harvest has tools and resources to make quick work of finding a real estate agent who will quickly and efficiently help you buy a new home or sell your current home.

This online referral firm specializes in finding top-rated real estate agents, leasing agents and giving you a general idea of all the things you should know about buying and selling a home. Even if you have experience with either, if you haven't been in the market either way for a while, you probably imagine things have changed. Enlisting the help of a qualified and professional agent with a high referral from a reputed agency will ease your mind since your agent will do all the leg work and heavy lifting in the purchase or sale of your home.

Looking for an agent through this performance-based referral service makes your search simpler and more clear cut since real estate agents have to meet Agent Harvest's high standards in the industry. Each agent must have a proven record of success, a detailed and intimate knowledge of your real estate market area, expertise in marketing and pricing homes appropriately and excellent communication skills. It is critical that your real estate agent returns your phone calls or emails in a timely manner, and you should know their statistics on issue this before making any other arrangements. Real estate agents will be working full-time on your behalf, following leads and generating interest in your property, so they should be committed to your success.

The referral agency will look for the top 10 rated real estate agents in your area from which you can choose. Otherwise, the agent must rank nationally or regionally or have received certification or an award of excellence to make the list of qualified real estate agents.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Trump Tower facing financial woes as investors become anxious to sell

Investors in Donald Trump's "Trump Tower" in Toronto are becoming anxious to sell their new condo units.

Why?

Because nobody is buying.

Lots of Trump Tower units are for sale on the MLS for outrageous prices - trumped up prices - and they have been on the MLS for months with no buyers and very few interested parties.

The Trump Tower in Toronto is located at the corner of Bay and Adelaide streets, and has units available for $1.6 million.

But in a recent auction by Toronto-based Ritchies Auctioneers, a bid of $550,000 was the only bid and well below the owners minimum asking price.

The owner of the unit, a local real estate broker who invested in multiple units in the building, commissioned Ritchies weeks ago to sell the suite at a 30 per cent or more discount after seeing about a dozen other units in the building stalled on MLS for months with no buyers.

So now he needs to offload his investment at a reduced price, but even then nobody is buying.

Many potential new buyers are changing their minds and don't even show up to view the condo unit.

What is worse is that the executives at Trump Tower - the building managers, etc - are avoiding the media, cancelling viewings of units at the last minute, changing the venues of meetings, etc.

A media tour was cancelled last Tuesday by the executives without explanation and tried to cancel another tour for potential buyers.

In related news many of Donald Trump's investors in the past have tried to sue him - often unsuccessfully due to legal fine print - because he duped them into making a bad investment, taking the money and then leaving his investors hanging with properties they can't sell at the prices he promised them.

How do you think Donald Trump made his riches in the first place? By ripping people off.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Slow construction at One Bloor

I swear construction crews spend 70% of their time standing around for equipment to arrive or city staff to sign documents.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Indoor and Outdoor Pool

Since pools is my theme for this month...

When you can't decide between an indoor and an outdoor pool, why not get both???

The best of both worlds!


Outdoor Grotto Pool

Now if a condo (or even people building a mansion) were to build an outdoor pool they have lots of options.

Personally having a pool that looks like a grotto sounds pretty amazing - and looks amazing too. It requires the efforts of a landscape architect and a team of landscaping gardeners - but the results look fantastic.




Condos with Indoor Pools

Now I admit this kind of pool in every condo is a tad ridiculous - and scary if you are afraid of heights - but I really like the concept of a small pool on every balcony or in every condo.


It just feels like the kind of thing a 12-year-old would draw, but wouldn't have the resources to build.

I like architects who have the ability to think like that and companies willing to make that forward leap to actually do it and build it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Condo Gyms and Pools

When buying a condo everyone wants a gym or a pool in the building.

But then once they have it many people forget to use it.

Just like many people forget to exercise regularly.

You wouldn't pay for a gym membership and then not use it, would you?

What about a pool membership at the YMCA?

Honestly you'd probably go 2 months without going to the gym or the pool and then realize it is a waste of money and then cancel your membership.

Which means why would you purchase a condo in a building with a gym and a pool - when you KNOW, in your heart, you probably are not going to use it.

Condo buildings with gyms and pools have higher maintenance costs due to the extra amenities. That is a given. So you are paying extra to live there - and if you are not using the gym or pool then you are really throwing your money away.

And Toronto condos are expensive enough already without you squandering your money on amenities you don't need.

Which gives you two solutions.

#1. Don't buy a condo with a gym or pool unless you are ALREADY a fitness buff and exercise regularly. Otherwise you probably will only use the amenities once or twice per year.

After all if the condo gym is mostly spin class equipment you could just buy a bicycle instead and bicycle outside.

#2. Hire a personal trainer to come to your condo 4 to 8 times per month.

Honestly, hiring a personal trainer in Toronto guarantees that you will end up using the amenities you are paying for. This way you can guarantee that you will BECOME a fitness buff and actually use the gym and pool you are paying for.

If you don't do this many people who try to exercise by themselves often lose motivation and fall off the proverbial wagon after awhile. Having a schedule to keep and a personal trainer who is tracking your progress, giving you advice, making sure you stay on schedule - well that just guarantees you stick with it.

Otherwise your condo gym will likely stay dark and empty and barely used.

Condo pools and gyms are designed to attract condo buyers. They're like fancy advertising aimed at selling you something that you want [the attractive body that comes with exercising regularly] by getting you to pay extra for something you don't really plan to use.

And then once you have it, it takes up space and you rarely use it - but you are paying through the nose in maintenance fees.

Which means that if you've already purchased a condo with a gym / pool then going the personal trainer route and becoming a fitness buff is the best way to take advantage of your investment.

Otherwise you've just fallen for the oldest trick in the history of marketing: Buy this and you will get a attractive body and then attract similarly attractive people to you.



Monday, September 2, 2013

Low Income Housing for the Elderly

We need more Low Income Housing for the Elderly - and more low income housing in general in Toronto.

The cartoon below is about the crisis for housing for the elderly in the USA, but it works equally well here in Canada.

Many elderly people are also on a fixed income and renting their apartments - and often are found dead only when the landlords realize they missed paying their rent.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Graduated and Living at Home

The infographic below is proof that there is something wrong in America...

Both in terms of lack of jobs, but also a shortage of affordable housing for people. And by affordable housing I also mean the cost of renting. House prices and the costs of renting are simply way too high for university and college graduates to be able to afford to live on their own.

And the careers that they trained for simply aren't available because too many people are training for things that there simply isn't enough jobs in that field to go around.

Which says to me more Americans should be BUILDING affordable houses, hiring people to do construction, creating jobs in the construction industry - while simultaneously making affordable housing more available.

There is ALWAYS more room for more people in the construction industry - especially the green homes industry. People who become experts at how to build green eco-friendly homes are guaranteed to find work in comparison.


Note: I had to modify the original infographic because it was too tall and wouldn't fit on here properly.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Architecture - Cobra Tower

I was looking for something else when I found this artist's rendering of an architectural piece that looks like a King Cobra.

I thought it was pretty nifty.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Beware of Water Heater Fraud Artists

A relative of mine and her husband recently moved into a new house.

Within days of moving in a man appeared at their door claiming to own their water heater, that it had been rented to the previous owner, and that he was there to take away their water heater and replace it with a new rented water heater - which the new homeowner would have to pay a monthly fee to use.

Fortunately her husband was a lawyer and she herself a brainiac librarian, so they smelled a scam.

Water heater fraud artists are apparently quite common in Toronto.

They keep track of houses that have been recently sold and then show up at the home of the new owners and try to convince then with phony documents that they own the water heater in the basement.

If they're especially tricky they might even know the brand name and number on the water heater. But don't be fooled just because they know the name and numbers. It is entirely possible they managed to find out the name and number from the previous owners by duping them with a "free inspection".

Companies using such fraudulent tactics include:

National Home Services
LivClean
MorEnergy

They show up, pretend to be working for your current supplier, and then steal your old water heater, replace it with their own water heater, and then start billing you every month. And if you try to cancel, you are locked into a contract and have to pay an outrageous cancellation fee (one more reason why you should never give such companies your banking or credit card info).

Some of them may even tell you such outrageous lies such as:

Telling you that your current provider is no longer in business and that they are taking over the contract and service of your water heater. (And then bully you into signing a new long term contract with a $400 cancellation fee.)

Other tricks include:

Dressing as a technician and saying they're in the neighborhood to schedule water heater replacements.

Showing you fake safety bulletins implying your water heater isn't safe any more and that you have to replace it.

Telling you that your water heater is inefficient if over a certain age, when in reality it can actually work for many years without accumulating rust buildup.

Legitimate companies Direct Energy and Reliance have several websites warning people about these fraud artists.

www.hotwaterstraighttalk.com and www.burnedatthedoor.com, both of which explain misleading and fraudulent information being pushed by scam artists.

Similar fraud companies also try to scam people for heating oil, gas and even electricity services. They especially like to target new homeowners because they are more vulnerable to scams of this nature.

Frankly, why would anyone RENT a water heater? Just buy one. They keep working for decades and require almost no maintenance. It is like buying a fridge or a stove. You buy them and then stop worrying about them.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New Domain Name - mysearchforahome.com

Finally registered mysearchforahome.com.

It was past time.

My new plan for this website is as follows.

1. Continue to write quality articles on topics within real estate in Toronto, Canada and overseas.

2. Renew my efforts in My Quest for a Condo, which I have let fall to the side while I have been busy working on other projects. It was not my intention to take a year off from that project, but it was a case where I was a tad annoyed at all the media attention and unused to such attention.

3. Find a new apartment - because I am unhappy with my current place and I want one that has more amenities nearby that is more convenient for various activities. Living so close to downtown is certainly convenient, but with the closing of my local grocery store I now think it is past time I moved elsewhere.

4. Promote my other websites like Cardio Trek, Product Reviews Canada, and Project Gridless.

Those 4 things should keep me plenty busy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Grocery store closing, thinking of moving

Amenities close to your home are awesome.

Take my place, it has 5 pharmacies (I admit there is an unusually high number of pharmacies near my place), schools, a grocery store, subway, restaurants, pubs, convenience stores all within a 5 minute walk of my apartment.

Evidently the things I use the most is the grocery store (no frills) and the subway.

So imagine my distress when I learn the grocery store is going to close this Friday (so soon!) so they can tear the building down (and the apartment building next to it) so they can build condos.

Which is funny, because there is some very horrible land closer to the subway with derelict boarded up old buildings that are waiting to be rezoned that would make a much better location for a condo.

And doubly funny because whoever is investing in building a condo here is likely to lose their shirts... Starting a condo project now means they wouldn't be done until 2017 or so - and well after what myself and many other economists / real estate pundits are predicting a collapse in Toronto condo prices in 2015-2016.

So evidently they aren't predicting the same thing. Or maybe they don't care. Maybe if the market goes belly up they will just stash the money and run. Who knows.

I am not the only person predicting a collapse in Toronto condo prices during that time period. The precise reckoning of the time period varies from person to person. Some say 2014. Some say 2017. Some even say 2020. Whatever.

One reason (asides from projected profit) for tearing down the buildings and the grocery store is because the buildings are unsightly and it is time to revitalize the neighbourhood because its fallen into disrepair over the years. But what happens when they are only partly done construction and the prices drop out? Construction will be halted because the money dried up. The half finished new buildings will just sit there, an even bigger eyesore than the old buildings. It will go from 3 old by usable buildings with a highly useful amenity (grocery store) to a derelict construction site... which has no usefulness at all.

Anyway, back to the issue of amenities.

Who is going to buy a condo in an area that doesn't have a grocery store? The whole purpose of a condo downtown is convenience. No need for a car, you have the subway. Grocery store mere minutes away. Everything you want is nearby. If you are lucky you might not even have to walk outside to go to the grocery store because its literally attached to the building.

So unless the new condo building has a grocery store on ground level then it won't really be that attractive of a building. Amenities are important!

A week ago I walked off the beaten track into a section of Toronto I've never been to before. Turned out to be the worst neighbourhood I have ever seen in Toronto. Every building was old and damaged. An ambulance was there outside the poorest looking home for the aged I have ever seen. Young men and women were loafing around, looking like they had little prospects and missing a few teeth (frankly, if you're missing teeth it is hard to find work).

Looking back at that short walk through a derelict part of Toronto - and this was really downtown, not even that far from the Eaton's Centre - it made me realize that the street itself had nothing on it. Not even a convenience store.

It did have a school. And it too looked pretty old and rundown.

People had garbage laying on their lawns and they didn't seem to care whatsoever. They certainly weren't trying to impress their neighbours - who also had garbage on their lawns (and lots of weeds).

The street I am speaking of is George Street, in-between Gerrard and Shuter. It is just one street over from the Ryerson campus. My apologies to the people who live there for pointing this out, but I would be ashamed of the squalor you live in.

And if there is one place, close to downtown with prime real estate, that should be ripped up, revitalized and put in new condos and low income housing - then that would be a good spot. But to get people to move there in droves you also need amenities.

Back to my plight.

Why should I stay in my current place when there won't be a grocery store nearby any more? Plus my rent is going up too, although the quality of the building has not improved. Basically there is nothing left here for me in terms of convenience.

I would be better off finding a nicer place, some place with all the amenities, and then moving there. So we shall see.

Expect more posts from me in the future as I start checking out rentals in a variety of locations. Its funny because I don't really talk about apartment rentals that often. Should be interesting.

I am even considering locations outside of Toronto. If the rent is reasonable and I like the amenities, why not eh?


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