Wednesday, June 30, 2010

HST changes will effect new homes over $400,000

The HST comes into effect tomorrow and the following 2 things will effect Ontario's real estate market:

1. New homes with a value of $400,000 or more will see a change. New homes with a value under $400,000 will be uneffected. The resale of old homes will also be unaffected.

2. The taxes on real estate commissions will increase from 5% GST to 13% HST.

There is however a rumour in the works that Ontario may cut HST by 1% by 2011 by cutting back on the PST portion of the HST, lowering the total HST to 12%.

At the same time expect to see more tax breaks for your income taxes. The HST change was designed in combination with a slew of income tax reductions which will allow more lower and middle-class people in Ontario to pay their bills, their mortgages and have more spending money. The HST is "virtually revenue neutral".

The people whining about the HST are mostly rich people who will now have to pay more for the following services:

Dry Cleaning Service.
Maid / Cleaning Services.
Massage Services.
Tobacco & nicotine products.
Golf fees.
Gym memberships.
Lessons for sports (ie. soccer, ballet, karate).
Fitness trainers.
Hair salons & barbers.
Live theatre tickets.
Repair & renovation work by Plumbers, Electricians, etc.
Landscaping and Snow Removal.
Hotel Rooms.
Funeral services.
Legal fees.
Domestic Travel in Ontario (railways, air & bus).
Magazine subscriptions.
Private resale of cars (with registration).
Ice rink rentals.
Hunting/fishing licenses.
Gasoline and diesel.
Natural Gas & Electricity.

The final two aspects of it is to encourage more people in Ontario to add solar panels, windmills and/or geothermal heating for their homes) and to think more wisely about their automotive purchases.

On the plus side the following will actually decrease in price!

Movie tickets.
Sporting event tickets.

I frankly support the HST. I totally support anything that puts more of the tax burden on the rich and makes it easier for lower and middle-income earners.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is the Construction Industry Corrupt?

With all the scandals with houses that are built with defects (not up to code and end up costing new homeowners way more than expected to have the house fixed) there is a growing movement of angry homeowners who are upset with what they see as corruption in the construction business.

Shoddy workmanship.

Phony promises.

Construction costs that go way over budget.

And then there is Mike Holmes, the messiah of the construction and renovation industry in Canada. He actually stands up for homeowners and pushes for "construction done right - the first time!" But for all his efforts in trying to get the housing industry in Canada to change their ways the Canadian government ignores the issue, ignores the pleas of homeowners and is probably accepting bribes from executives in the construction industry.

And this isn't just an issue for the construction industry, there's also the rather unregulated renovation industry and people who do their own renovations. Lets take the following case as an example:

Cotton Vs. Monahan

In April 2006 Walter and Shelley Cotton bought their dream home in Brantford, Ontario. Afterwards they found out their new home wasn't up to the building code and it was going to cost them an extra $85,000 to fix it.

The old owners, Gary, Laurie and Carey Monahan, had shown the Cottons the Sellers Property Information Statement (SPIS). The form lists the extensive renovations done to the house without any building permit. The Cottons and their real estate agent went over the document and each of their questions was answered properly.

The Cottons told their real estate agent to submit an unconditional offer without a home inspection clause, despite the agent’s advice against doing so.

After the deal was closed they had an inspection which revealed numerous problems which violated the building code. It took 6 months to fix everything and was an absolute chaos.

The Cottons then sued the Monahans for the cost of the repairs, arguing the hidden defects were actively concealed. The Monahans responded they answered all the questions in the SPIS and that the new buyers failed to exercise due diligence by conducting a home inspection.

Legal fees for the 10-day trial were approx. $100,000.

The judge quoted the following line from Bora Laskin in a 1960 Law Society lecture: “Absent fraud, mistake or misrepresentation, a purchaser takes existing property as he finds it . . . unless he protects himself by contract terms.”

The judge also quoted a 1979 decision wherein a seller aware of defects must disclose them to the purchaser only if they are dangerous or unfit for living in. Otherwise there is no obligation to reveal hidden defects.

Thus trying to sue for hidden defects in the house people have to prove those defects are actually dangerous and were knowingly concealed by the seller.

The judge ruled in favour of the Monahans, deciding they had accurately and truthfully filled out the SPIS form.

The SPIS form is published by the Ontario Real Estate Association and is apparently the single most frequent cause of Ontario real estate litigation

Lessons Learned

#1. Never sign a SPIS form. They're unnecessary and can only cause future lawsuits.

#2. Get a freaking home inspection before buying the house! Talk about stupid.

If you're going to buy a house you can't take people on their word. It doesn't matter if its a new house or an old one with lots of renovations. Have it inspected for faults first.

An inspection can also dramatically lower the price of a house. Once people know it has so many thousands of $$$ in repairs needed it becomes evident that the house really isn't worth as much as they claim it is. It would make sense to make an offer (after the house has been inspected and a contractor has made an estimate as to the repair costs) that deducts the cost of repairs.

"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

- Matthew 7:26-27.

Mortgage Calculator

I found this mortgage calculator online.

Free Mortgage Calculator

Parking, Parking and Bicycle Parking

When you buy a condo its often assumed that you also getting a parking spot. This is not always true however.

You may have to pay extra for your parking spot. On a monthly basis as opposed to outright buying the parking lot when you buy the condo.

Thinking to save money (and get some exercise) you might also say "Hey, I'll just get a bicycle instead and sell the old car."

But do your research first because some buildings don't have the greatest parking spots for bicycles either. Some buildings are bicycle friendly, to both their residents, their guests and whomever happens to be visiting the neighbourhood...

Its called "Being Neighbourly" or just plain nice.

But some building managers are just plain jerks. They want their bike racks to be for residents only so they stick them in the parking garage... or alternatively they do have it outside, but they chop off bikes of people who don't live there. (Often using a sticker to determine who is actually a resident.)

See 565 Sherbourne Chopping Off Bikes.

Its not very neighbourly at all. Its arguably illegal because it involves stealing people's bikes right off the sidewalk. (And bicycle theft often leads to a rash of bicycle thefts in the area, because some people figure its okay to just steal someone else's.)

When it comes to parking you want everyone in the neighbourhood to get along. You don't want people fighting over parking spots, whether they be residents or guests. Its smart just to have extra parking spaces for both cars and bicycles. The moment people start fighting for a parking spot that is when things start to get ugly.

You know... vandalism, scratched cars, potatoes in the exhaust pipe, your car set on fire...

So when picking a condo make sure you understand the condo's policies on both parking for you and for guests. The last thing you want is a feud that is going cost you more than you bargained for.

"Good fences make good neighbours."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Humour - Lousy Real Estate

A doctor vacationing on the Riviera met an old lawyer friend and asked him what he was doing there.

The lawyer replied: "Remember that lousy real estate I bought? Well, it caught fire, so here I am with the fire insurance proceeds. What are you doing here?"

The doctor replied: "Remember that lousy real estate I had in Mississippi? Well, the river overflowed, and here I am with the flood insurance proceeds."

The lawyer looked puzzled. "Gee, how did you start the flood?"

Humour - Congratulations on your New Home

A client bought a new home and the broker wanted to send flowers for the occasion.

They arrived at the home and the owner read the card; it said: "Rest in Peace."

The owner was angry and called the florist to complain. After he had told the florist of the obvious mistake and how angry he was, the florist said. "Sir, I'm really sorry for the mistake, but rather than getting angry you should imagine this: somewhere there is a funeral taking place today, and they have flowers with a note saying: Congratulations on your new home."

Humour - $1000 for a House

One Sunday afternoon a couple sees an ad in the paper. They can't believe their eyes. There is a house in the paper for $1000 that is in the nicest part of town. We are talking about a Highland Park mansion for $1000. They think this has to be a misprint, but decide to call anyway.

They say to lady who answers we saw your ad, and realize it is a misprint correct. She tells them no it's not & you are actually the first ones to call.

They decide to go look at the house. They race over as fast as they can. They pull up to the most beautiful house on the block.

In front of the house is a fountain that cost at least $30,000. They ring the door bell & the lady answers. She starts showing them the house. They realize this house is over 5000 sq ft and it is obvious that expense was not a problem in building this house. The house had marble imported from Italy & a chandelier imported from France. The landscaping was breath taking & the house had a great pool & a nice tennis court.

The couple said to the lady this is the most beautiful house we have ever seen, what's the catch?

The lady assured the couple there was no catch. The couple wanted the house for $1,000 but was leery of doing the deal. Finally the lady said you seem like a nice couple, so I'll let you know the truth.

She told them this house is completely paid for, and not a penny is owed against it. Well, last week I got a call from my Husband. He informed me he is leaving me for his secretary. He then told me I could have everything we own as long as he could have the proceeds off the sale of the house. I agreed and he asked me if I could sell the house while he & his new girlfriend hung out in the Caribbean.

Humour - Smart Real Estate Broker

A broker was dismayed when a brand new real estate office much like his own opened up next door and erected a huge sign which read 'BEST AGENTS.'

He was horrified when another competitor opened up on his right, and announced its arrival with an even larger sign, reading 'LOWEST COMMISSIONS.'

The broker panicked, until he got an idea. He put the biggest sign of all over his own real estate office. It read: 'MAIN ENTRANCE'

Humour - The Real Estate Broker Frog

Two women were walking through the woods when a frog called out to them and said: “Help me, ladies! I am a real estate broker who, through a curse, has been transformed into a frog. If one of you will kiss me, I’ll be returned to my former state!”

One woman took out her purse, grabbed the frog, and stuffed it inside her handbag. The other woman said: “Didn’t you hear him? If you kiss him, he’ll turn into a real estate broker!”

The second woman replied: “Sure, but these days a talking frog is worth more than a real estate broker!”

Humour - Real Estate Agent Vs the Devil

The Devil tells a Real Estate Agent, “Look, I can make you richer, more famous, and more successful than any Real Estate Agent alive. In fact, I can make you the greatest agent that ever lived.”

“Well,” says the Real Estate Agent. “What do I have to do in return?”

The Devil smiles and explains. “Well, of course you have to give me your soul, but you also have to give me the souls of your children, the souls of your children’s children and, as a matter of fact, you have to give me the souls of all your descendants throughout eternity.”

“Wait a minute,” the Real Estate Agent says cautiously. “What’s the catch?”

Real Estate Humour + Jokes

The dream of the older generation was to pay off a mortgage. The dream of today's young families is to get one.

My buyer told me that he lived in the same house for 10 years. When I checked, I found out he'd still be there today if the Governor hadn't pardoned him.

Why do you have your front door leading right into the dining room? So my relatives won't have to waste any time.

The sellers told me their house was near the water. It was in the basement.

How much are they asking for your rent now? Oh, about twice a day.

I have a temporary mortgage. What do you mean temporary? Until they foreclose.

Realtor sign: We have "lots" to be thankful for.

Realtor: First you folks tell me what you can afford, then we'll have a good laugh and go on from there.

There is no longer a need for the neutron bomb. We already have something that destroys people and leaves buildings intact. It's called a mortgage.

If you think no one cares you're alive, miss a couple of house payments.

My buyers went through debt consolidation. Now they have only one bill they won't pay.

I listed a maintenance free house. In the last 25 years there hasn't been any maintenance.

Did you hear about Robin Hood's house? It has a little John.

My agent was always smiling. I didn't think anybody could have that many teeth without being a barracuda.

If you want to know exactly where the property line is, just watch the neighbor cut the grass.

Houses today don't have enough closet space. Sure they do. They're just called guest bedrooms.

Trivia: The floors of buildings are called stories because early European builders used to paint picture stories on the sides of their houses. Each floor had a different story.

"A lot of homes have been spoiled by inferior desecrators." - Frank Lloyd Wright.

I bought a two story house. One story before I bought, and another afterwards.

The house is only 5 minutes from shopping... if you've got an airplane.

This country is great. It's the only place where you can borrow money for a downpayment, get a 1st and 2nd mortgage and call yourself a homeowner.

Home is where the mortgage is.

A housewarming is the final call for those who haven't sent a wedding present

The best part of a real estate bargain is the neighbor.

The house was more covered with mortgages than with paint.

Home: A place when you go there they have to take you in.

Charity: A thing that begins at home and usually stays there.

A man's home is his castle. That's how it seems when he pays taxes on it.

Housebroke - What you are after buying a house.

Sign next to FSBO - We shoot every third real estate agent and the 2nd one just left.

This house has every new convenience except low payments.

The trouble with owning a home is that no matter where you sit, you're looking at something you should be doing.

They have an all electric home. Everything in it is charged.

My buyers want a new home on the outskirts... of their income, that is.

A Happy Home is a place where each spouse entertains the possibility that the other may be right though neither believes it.

By the time you pay for a home in the suburbs, it isn't in the suburbs any more.

A Modern home is a place where a switch controls everything but the kids, and it has gadgets to do everything except make the payments.

The house has a wall to wall carpet and back to wall payments.

A typical home has a TV set that is adjusted better than the kids.

House Problem: The oven is self-cleaning, but the kids aren't.

Our new house has one down payment and 240 darn payments.

Homesickness is what you feel every month when the mortgage is due.

What is Home?

"A roof to keep out the rain. Four walls to keep out the wind. Floors to keep out the cold. Yes, but home is more than that. It is the laugh of a baby, the song of a mother, the strength of a father. Warmth of living hearts, light from happy eyes, kindness, loyalty, comradeship. Home is first school and first church for young ones, where they learn what is right, what is good and what is kind. Where they go for comfort when they are hurt or sick.

Where joy is shared and sorrow eased. Where fathers and mothers are respected and loved. Where children are wanted. Where the simplest food is good enough for kings because it is earned. Where money is not so important as loving-kindness. Where even the teakettle sings from happiness. That is home. God bless it."

- Ernestine Schumann-Heink

G20 lack of results good for homebuyers

34 political leaders (including 20 leaders from the biggest economies in the world) converged in Toronto this past weekend. The economy was the main point of discussion, but there was a lack of consensus on what to do about it.

United States President Barack Obama wants to do more stimulus spending until America's economy is fully recovered, worried about a "double dip" if they don't finish the job properly. He is however in favour of a bank tax, so banks can repay the public for trillions of dollars in bank bailouts (and to punish bankers for using a lot of that bailout money to buy themselves yachts and new cars).

In Canada Stephen Harper favours no bank tax and wants to maintain Canada's status quo. (We didn't have a bank bailout, so a tax seems unnecessary for Canadians.)

The various countries agreed to disagree and the G20 meeting was basically a flop. The individual countries couldn't agree to any targets, deadlines or anything for financial recovery but instead will go on doing what they usually do. The G20 leaders failed to accomplish anything.

This is good news for homebuyers. In the USA it means the mortgage and housing industry will continue to get back on its feet, planting itself more firmly. Housing prices should stabilize and rebound slowly enough that people buying a home in the USA will get some nice deals. (I've seen the prices south of the border and they're so cheap its ridiculous!)

In Canada housing prices won't be moving much. The CIBC and TD Bank have postulated prices might dip 10% in the next year or two, but the good news is that the Bank of Canada will be keeping interest rates pretty stable for the next while which means people looking to buy a house in Canada will be able to lock in some super low interest rates for their mortgages.

What is upsetting however is that our idiotic government spent $1.1 billion on G20 security and all that happened was a few smashed windows and a couple police cars burnt because apparently Toronto police are too incompetent to guard their parked cars.

For $1.1 billion Toronto could have built 11,000 small houses or condos (at $100,000 each) and solved Toronto's homeless problem permanently. Then the activists (who are mostly upset about poverty in Canada) would have very little to complain about. Plus that $1.1 billion would have boosted the local economy immensely by creating construction jobs, reducing unemployment in the GTA instead of hurting it by shutting down the city's downtown core for a week.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

My Credit Rating Vs the Mortgage Lender

I have a VERY GOOD credit rating. I always pay all my debts (I might be late by accident, stuff happens sometimes and people get distracted, but that is rare)... and thus my credit rating is incredibly good.

The only problem however is that I am self-employed. I run my own website design company here in Toronto. Its been several years since I was actually employed by someone else.

Thus I am a bit concerned about the fateful day when I apply for a mortgage. Will my application be accepted? Will they try to gouge me with a higher interest rate just because I run my own company.

I also worry about my age. I admit I look young for my age, but that is mostly because I am rather fit, cycle daily, weightlift five times a week and recently took up archery. In the winter I also ice skate. The point is that despite the fact I am now (egad) in my 30s I sometimes still get asked for ID when I order alcohol in a restaurant.

So I can just imagine visiting a bank, shaking hands with the loan manager and then being politely turned down for a mortgage because they think I am a 20-something who is self-employed.

I would like to think my long credit history and excellent credit rating would help convince them I am not only older, but financially capable of handling a mortgage.

Someday I should speak to a mortgage broker and just find out how flexible they are when it comes to self-employed people. (I am guessing they will require a co-signer.)

A Wonderful Way to Search for Homes

I found this wonderful website that makes it really easy to search for homes using a map feature on their site.

Basically all you do is tell it where you want to search for a home in Toronto by clicking on the map itself.

You can also narrow the focus by selecting your price range, how many beds you need, what neighbourhood you like, etc. Its not just for Toronto either, it works for all of Ontario.

Click search and then the listing icons come up on the map and you can click on them to see a mini description of the house and a photo. There is also icons for local amenities so you can tell how close the local school, library, grocery store is.

If you click More Options you can also narrow your search by property type, sale or lease, whether Open Houses are available or scheduled and even check which amenities you want to show up searches. And there's a lot of amenities! (Attractions, Banks, Car Wash, Day Care, Dentists, Doctors, Dry Cleaners, Fitness, Grocery Stores, Hospitals, Ice Rinks, Liquor / Beer / Wine, Medical Clinics, Movie Theatres, Pharmacies, Places of Worship, Recreation Centres, Restaurants, Salons / Spas, Schools Elementary, Schools Secondary, Shopping Centres, Splash Pads / Pools, Tennis Courts, Veterinarians)

So lets say for example I am looking for a house in Lawrence Park and I want to make sure its near the subway and a grocery store. Damn useful I'd say.

Of course in my case I also like the option of being able to narrow my search to just condos... and for the heck of it I also like to check for vacant land because frankly I think it would be fun to build most of it myself, with the exception of the foundation which should be done by a pro. (I studied construction and electrical wiring years ago and asides from a refresher course I am very confident I could do it without killing or electrocuting myself. Plus it would be a bonus if I could build the house using new green technology to save on heating and cooling costs.)


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Best Friends

The following is rather morbid, but I like dark humour:

"Friends help you move.

Best friends help you move bodies."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Finding a Broker I can deal with

I think finding a broker is all about personality.

I don't want to be RUSHED into buying a house or condo. Its very awkward when someone is trying to pressure you into buying something you're not sure about, especially when its a big item.

Back in March my old computer died (waaaah!) and because I did it for work I ended up going out and buying a new computer fairly quickly. In that situation I didn't have much of a choice. I NEEDED the computer for work reasons and I didn't really have time to contemplate the issue.

Afterwards a friend of mine complained that I could have gone to him and got roughly the same computer for a couple hundreds dollars less, but that would have resulted in a delay of several days and it could have put stress on the friendship.

Thus when meeting real estate brokers my primary worry is how comfortable I am with this person and making sure I don't feel pressured. I want to feel confident about their abilities to fulfill my needs, but I don't want it at the expense of second guessing myself in a high-pressure situation.

I absolutely MUST have time to think everything over.

Take the computer buying scenario from the last March. I browsed the computers at FutureShop but didn't see any I liked. The guy in Best Buy showed me around at what was available and I hmm and hawed for awhile comparing them. The Best Buy guy wandered off to help other customers and I continued browsing and comparing the different computers before finally arriving at a decision. The extra decision making time took about 45 minutes.

In contrast it only took about 4 minutes to buy the computer and walk out the door with it, whereupon I bumped into my friend (who was there looking for a new X-Box) and then hailed a taxi.

Buying a house or a condo, as a first time buyer, I frankly think I would want a whole week to think about it. Maybe a month. I don't really know. Its such a huge step for me I certainly don't want to be rushing into it and overlooking things.

I want to know if the foundation is sound, does the roof leak, is there any problems with the house (ie. termites or cockroaches), is there something they're not telling me (its above a fault line or its... oooooooo haunted!)... and during this whole process the real estate broker will doubt be holding my hand.

I don't care if its a guy or a gal, but I have to be able to trust them. (My Aunt Edna was a real estate agent in Sudbury and frankly I don't trust her, even though she's family... or perhaps that is why I don't trust her. She has a bit of a bad reputation with the rest of the family and hasn't come to a family event in over 2 decades.)

Here's some tips I found online:

1. Referrals: A good real estate broker will have lots of referrals. Its how you know their customers are satisfied. That said you should Google their name and see if they have any angry customers...

2. Look for Experience: Younger real estate agents might have more time to talk to you, but you can never beat experience once you've got the agent's attention.

3. Attend Open Houses: This is a good way to meet real estate agents, other buyers and pick up lots of free tips and advice.

4. Track Neighborhood Signs: Keep track of who's selling what in the neighbourhoods you are looking at. Real estate agents frequently operate on their "turf" so there may only be a few working in the designated neighbourhood that you like.

5. Track Ads in Newspapers: Same idea as above, look for the real estate brokers who are operating in the neighbourhood you are interested in.

6. Recommendations from Pros: Ask brokers who their competition is and what they think of them. A good analogy I can think of is a Magnum P.I. episode from the 1980s where a woman was looking for a private investigator and she asked all the PIs in Hawaii who the #1 and #2 private investigators were. They all said they were #1... and they all said Magnum was #2.

Once you find potential brokers don't work with them right away. Gauge your need first and watch for red flags. Avoid agents who don't know anything about renovations or zoning laws (but may claim to know). Avoid agents who are not timely at returning calls or emails. (If its the weekend don't worry about it, but expect a call back on Monday.)

Don't Gamble with your House

Some people like to gamble. They think its the easy way to either make money or save money. If you ever heard a "hot tip" my advice to always be skeptical and do all your research before jumping on proverbial bandwagon.

Let me elaborate.

A few months ago economists from the TD Bank and CIBC predicted that housing prices in Toronto might fall as much as 10% by 2012. That doesn't mean they will fall, nor does it mean they might fall the full 10% they described. It might only fall 1% or it might go the opposite way and housing prices might go up between 1 to 10%.

Some homeowners however have apparently thought this means this is a good time to sell their house, but instead of buying a new house they've opted to find a place to rent. (See Homeowners Staying out of Real Estate Market After Selling) The problem is that renting a house in Toronto is also ridiculous expensive and comes with its bidding wars involved. There are a lot of people out there looking to rent.

In fact Toronto and Vancouver have two of the lowest vacancy rates in all of Canada. The vacancy rate in Toronto is a mere 2.2% and Vancouver isn't much better at 2.7%. This makes finding a suitable place to rent both difficult and expensive. The two cities are epicentres for Canada's real estate boom, but its only booming because there is such a huge demand for housing. The demand is driven largely by university graduates who never leave and the constant inflow of new immigrants who need housing, so much so that the demand for houses and apartments never disappears.

Lets say you have a house worth $1 million right now. If you sell it, according to the TD Bank & CIBC, your house (or one equivalent to it) may only be worth about $900,000 two years from now. It might or it might not. Some home owners are apparently willing to take that gamble and are selling their houses, renting a place, and then waiting for house prices to cool down.

So they find a place to rent at $2,000 month... they wait two years and spend $48,000 on rent. What if housing prices only dip by 4.8%? They just wasted $48,000 which could have been spent paying off their mortgage. Or worse, housing prices could up instead and they will be kicking themselves for selling a home they had purchased when prices were still reasonable.

Sure, you might be save a bit of money on land taxes and maintenance, but you're also losing the convenience and security of owning your own place. There is a reason people prefer to own their home instead of renting. Its a well known fact "Renting is for suckers!"

My advice is that people shouldn't rush into this kind of gamble based on the speculations of economists. Even economists admit they can be wrong and frequently are. All it takes is an economic blip to throw all their estimates out of whack.

Look before you leap off the deep end.

See Also:

Toronto Home Bidding Wars Are Back

Why Home Owners Want to Throw Recycling Rules in the Garbage

What is Your Listing Agent is Saying About Your Home?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Home sales down in Toronto

Home sales have gone down recently. Sales of existing homes in the Greater Toronto Area fell by 1% in May, compared with the same time last year.

Apparently what has happened is there is too many houses on the market right now and buyers are becoming more picky. New listings were also up 38% over last year, a sign the Toronto real estate market is becoming flooded.

The Toronto Real Estate Board recorded 9,470 sales in May, the first time this year that sales did not resoundingly beat 2009 levels.

In theory this is GOOD for me... because it means less bidding and prices should come down a bit.

Except the prices haven't come down. They're actually up 13% compared to last year. :( Average prices are up 13% from last May to $446,593 compared with $395,609 in May 2009.

There's also the issue of the HST, which came into effect recently and is hurting home sales. The good news is Ontario may cut the HST by 1% by 2011.

Interest Rates going up

If I am going to buy a house or condo on a mortgage I'd better do it soon. The Bank of Canada raised interest rates by 0.25% recently and will probably raise it again before the end of 2010.

Looking for a new home


I am currently living in an apartment with a roommate. I've been living in the same place for 5 years now and its time for a change.

The purpose of this blog is to find a new home, some place where I can live and grow.

Here's what I am looking for:

House, Condo or Apartment

1 Bedroom

1 Dining Room

1 Kitchen

1 Bathroom

I am more worried about convenience and price than space at the moment. Should I get married and have kids I will no doubt want to change what I am looking for.

It would be nice to have a balcony or a backyard to garden in, but they're not huge necessities. I would prefer a condo over a house, but I am keeping my options open.

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