Sourced from Ottawa Citizen http://ottawacitizen.com/business/local-business/bidding-wars-and-madness-inside-ottawas-sellers-real-estate-market
We are seeing governments enact policies with the goal of environmental sustainability in many aspects of our lives. Condominiums in Ontario are no exception. In Ontario, some of the recently enacted changes include:
- creating a procedure in which condominiums, or owner(s) can install electric vehicle charging stations in the common elements;
- requiring condominiums of a certain size to report their energy consumption to the provincial government; and
- allowing clotheslines and clothes trees to be installed at condominiums under certain conditions.
EV Charging Stations can now be installed in Condominiums
Under the newly amended Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Act”), a Condominium Corporation could, at its expense and without an owners’ meeting, install an electric vehicle charging station if:
- The estimated cost of the installation is less than 10% of the Condominium’s annual budget; and
- The Condominium’s Board of Directors believe the owners would not regard the installation of the charging station to be a material reduction or elimination of their use or enjoyment of the condominium property.
The new provisions and regulations under the Act also allow an owner to apply to install a charging station (at the owner’s expense) at their condominium.
- The Board would be required to approve the owner’s application unless the installation:
- Is contrary to the requirements of a statute or regulation
- Negatively affects the structural integrity of the condominium property or assets of the corporation; or
- Poses a serious health and safety risk to an individual or a risk of damage to the condominium property or assets of the corporation.
In addition to the Act, Condominiums also have new obligations under the Green Energy Act, 2009.
Condominiums must soon Report their Energy Consumption
One of those obligations is to report water, electricity, and gas consumption. The dates when these new obligations begin are as follows:
- Starting on July 1, 2019, Condominium Corporations that are in buildings of at least 100,000 square feet must submit their first report.
- Starting on July 1, 2020, Condominium Corporations that are in buildings of at least 50,000 square feet must submit their first report.
All areas of the building, including the common areas, are included in the square footage calculation. Corporations in multiple structures find their gross floor area by totaling the square footage of all the structures.
To submit a report, Corporations must first obtain their assessment roll number, property code, and an Ontario Energy Water Reporting and Benchmarking ID (which is obtained from the Ministry of Energy). The Corporation must then register an account through Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager website. Any energy consumption reports would be submitted there.
Clotheslines and Clothestrees can now be installed in certain circumstances
The Green Energy Act also allows clotheslines and clothestrees to be installed even if the Condominium Corporation has a rule prohibiting them.
However, owners can only install clotheslines or clothestrees if the installation:
- does not impede safety or access to and from the building
- takes place in an area where the unit owner has exclusive use
- is installed directly on the ground, or on a deck/platform that is acceptable to and no higher than the ground floor; or on a step stool or similar device that is directly on the ground or a deck/platform (as described above).
These new obligations are certainly arriving at a challenging time as the Condominium industry in Ontario grapples with the many changes that have come through the pipe. Hopefully, as everyone gets more familiar with the new processes and procedures, the new obligations will become a routine part of regular condominium obligations.
If you have any further questions regarding Condominiums please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nancy Houle at email@example.com
It is extremely important to deal with leaks as soon as your suspect or see the signs to avoid causing greater damage and spending a lot of money and time on repairs! Unfortunately, because these leaks often happen behind walls that have been closed up by drywall or other construction materials, leaks may be occurring in your home but you may not see any warning signs until it has turned into a larger issue.
When these issues escalate, you may end up with unpleasant surprised such as damp carpet in your basement, or find water bugs crawling along the baseboards of your basement floor.
There are some telltale signs of a basement leak that you can watch for to ensure you stay on top of any potential issues before they turn into bigger, more expensive problems.
Some homeowners choose to sell their homes themselves to save money on the commission. Ironically, these homeowners would have walked away with more money and less hassle had they let an agent do the hard work for them.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, a home sold by a real estate agent sold for nearly 13 percent more than the typical home that was “for sale by owner.”
It’s important to work with a local real estate agent that knows:
With the Spring Market beginning, it’s the time of year that we fill up the gas tank, load up our Buyer’s and start looking at Condos! And then the inevitable question comes up:
What’s the deal with Condos?
The discussion surrounding types of Condos is one that could be covered over multiple columns as well as the perceived positives and negatives. A key factor in deciding to purchase a Condo is a prudent and exhaustive review of:
1. Why are you buying a Condominium?
2. Does the neighbourhood matter?
3. Is proximity to amenities important to you?
4. What are the Condo fees, and what do they cover? (or proposed fees)
Often the first step is understanding the different types of Condo’s and their potential benefits/negatives. Would you prefer a full house, or possibly a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment? Some would wonder why this matters, but Condominium Living is dependent on choosing a lifestyle outside of residential freehold. The type of Unit preferred is usually selected prior to viewing them and is quickly decided after a few Showings.
The Realtors® will often be a the first point of contact for a potential Buyer and there is a great marketing opportunity for Board’s and Property Managers to consider when Unit’s come up for Sale in their Condominium Project:
A lot of Condominium Buyer’s are curious not only about the Condominium itself, but the community within. A great feature that a lot of Boards have created is a website with features and benefits of their building/association. Keeping an updated website and a proper information board is critical to providing key information to potential buyer’s as they tour the facilities.
Today’s buyer’s are web savvy, and property managers and boards should be aware that there a number of websites out there that are used by Real Estate Agents and Buyer’s alike to help them gather information on the condo, board or property management company.
Often the overall appearance of the Building weighs in more than people think when Buyer’s are comparing Units. If the overall building is in disrepair, and general maintenance and upkeep are lacking then how well the Reserve Fund is and Operating Budget maintained?
A great way for a property manager (and the board) to stay engaged in the process of new owners is to keep an eye out for properties listed in their building/complex and reach out to the Listing agent. By offering to provide basic info about the condominium(s), often it can help when the agent (or the homeowner) may not know what to ask:
(a) Are there hours of Operation for the facilities?
(b) How many members on the board?
(c) How long has the management company had the contract?
(d) Any other items that are general knowledge but that could assist with the positive communication/view of the community.
The end goal should be a mutually positive outcome: The new Buyer selects the condo for the Unit that meets their home needs and the Community gains a valuable new member.
Working with the Real Estate Agent, Owner’s and potential Buyer’s will serve to provide future Boards and Owners with consistent ownership opportunity and less potential mis-understandings along the way.
Contact Terra Firma Real Estate for Condominium Inquiries!
When people are Buying and Selling Condominiums, the realization of what exactly they are purchasing and buying into becomes secondary at times as they get caught up in the frenzy of the search for the perfect view, or the one that has amenities that they want or have seen in an Ad.
There are some Key Differences that should be considered when looking between Residential Homes and Condominiums:
1. Real Estate Agents: Does your agent know what is involved in a Condominium Purchase? Ask them how much experience and/or education they have invested in related to Condominiums and related topics.
2. Searches: Residential Searches can also include Housing Associations which are similar to Freehold Condominium, but have different rules and By-Laws as opposed to Regular Condominiums. *the Key is ensuring your Realtor knows the difference.
3. Attorney: when researching to hire an attorney, your Real Estate Agent can provide you a list that they or their office have worked with. It’s a good practice to inquire which ones have had experience in reviewing Status Certificates and understanding Reserve Funds.
4. Comparing Condominiums should include what the fee is in comparison to the features/benefits of the items covered by it. (ie. Water/Gym/Pool/Common Grounds)
5. How old the Condominium building is. This can weigh into the review of the Reserve Fund, and how recently the Reserve Fund Study was completed.
*note: Using a Home Inspector is always recommended, but Agents should ensure their clients are aware that reviewing common property that is enclosed/ locked up is not a requirement. The Inspection should cover the interior of the Unit being purchased and a cursory review of the building exterior for information purposes only.
Part of the Agent’s responsibility also lies in advising their client’s exactly what is included in the Condominium Fees, and compare against other Condominium Corporations in regards to common element use, and overall experience. They should also be able to assist with reviewing:
1. Fees vs. Fees: are you comparing like properties? Is one a newer condo? (ie. Less than 3 years) and if the condo is older (ie. 15-20 years) how healthy is the Reserve Fund?
2. Reserve Fund: When the Attorney reviews the documents, and needs some clarity or details the agent should offer to inquire on their behalf. (This also provides the Agent with the tools to be better advised for their Client’s needs).
3. When searching for an Attorney, like searching for a Real Estate Agent, the Client should inquire if they have experience with Condominium Purchases and how comfortable are they reviewing the Reserve Fund along with the By-Laws?
The more the Real Estate Agent can support the process, the less surprises and last minute stresses will occur. As with any Residential Real Estate transaction, due diligence is critical but is definitely key in ensuring that one’s client (or yourself!) is fully aware of what is entailed when you purchase into a Condominium Corporation.
Overall, the role of the Real Estate Agent shouldn’t be simply to process the sale of the unit, but also to support all the parties as they are the one common factor during the entire transaction. The ability of the Agent to provide assistance and valuable resources and information creates an environment of consistency and professionalism.
With the ever changing real estate market continually moving towards a great amount of Condominium projects and Re-Sales, the Real Estate Community along with those that participate in the business is quickly becoming a core group that needs to be able to rely on each other for qualified assistance and accurate and timely business practices.
Contact Terra Firma Real Estate at 613-721-7434 for more information.
One of the biggest challenges when wanting to buy a home is the down payment. You ask yourself, “How do I come up with $20,000?”. Many people think your down payment can only come from savings but there are other sources that I will share with you in this blog.
As a first-time home buyer, you are allowed to use up to $25K of your RSPs as your down payment. If you don’t currently have RSPs then one strategy is to start saving money in your RSP account and then use the rebate from your taxes to top up the savings so that accumulates faster. You can also get a 2 or 3 years RSP loan to fast track that savings and then use some of the tax rebate to pay your loan back faster. I am not one to suggest taking on more debt, you weigh risk versus reward and in SOME cases, it can work as long as you have a good pay back strategy in place. This isn’t as confusing as it might sound so call me today so I can help you understand if this is the right option for you.
There are still some banks and lenders who allow your down payment to be borrowed funds such as a loan or line of credit. This can be tricky because again, I am not encouraging you to take on more debt, however, in some cases this can work BUT you have to be sure that your income can service your down payment loan and the mortgage you are wanting to get.
As the mortgage rules get tighter and tighter, more and more down payments are coming from parents, grandparents and other family members in the form of a gift. This is perfectly OK as long as the giftor signs a gift letter (provided by the lender) to confirm this is a gift without any repayment. Are you in your parents or grandparents will? Ask if they would gift you the money early. It might be very special for them to know that their money is going to you and building your financial future.
ASSESS YOUR AFFORDABILITY:
The most obvious way to have a down payment is savings but as we all know, this can be very hard. The minimum down payment for an owner-occupied home is 5% (plus 1.5% for closing and legal costs). Take a look at your affordability, maybe you only need to save up $10K for a smaller home as a started home and then use the equity of the house to buy a bigger house in a few years. You don’t need to have 20% right off the bat. If you only qualify for a $200K property then work on that down payment now and find a good property with strong appreciation rates where you can use the equity down the road but you are already in the housing market so you are already one step ahead.
Each source of down payment is subjective to you and your lifestyle. Be sure to recognize what you can do and work with the right team of professionals to help get you there faster. A financial advisor can help you by looking at your finances and show you where you can save and /or invest your money. A realtor can look at the areas where the best appreciation rates are to make the best investment. A mortgage agent, like myself, can analyze your financial profile and determine your affordability. We also all work together with the same end game in mind, with YOU becoming a home owner and on the right path to your financial success.
If you have any questions, please call me and we can set an appoint by phone for your convenience to review your financial profile.
Thanks for reading, until next time!!
Winner of 2013 Faces Magazine “Ottawa’s Best Mortgage Agent”
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Let’s face it; we get A LOT of snow. Although the beautiful snow fall can turn homes into charming and peaceful winter wonderlands, it can also cause a lot of damage to your home.
A significant amount of accumulated snow is extremely heavy and can lead to a number of issues to your home such as roof leaks, interior water damage, ice dams and, in worst cases, roof collapse.
Listed below are helpful tips suggested by ServiceMaster Restore to show how much snow your roof can handle before the worst happens, plus additional information on how to clear snow off your roof safely and efficiently throughout this winter.
Most residential roofs in good condition can support up to 20 pounds per square foot of snow. These guidelines will help determine when the snow on your roof may be approaching this weight limit:
If your house has a flat roof, try to remove the snow more often to prevent serious structural damage from occurring. Flat roofs are more susceptible to collapsing from the total combined snow weight because meltwater has a higher change of refreezing on a flat roof before it has a chance to run off as it would on sloped roofs.
The snow on your roof needs to be cleared off by hand when it accumulates faster than it can melt. To do this yourself, use these following safety precautions to protect yourself and your roof:
Unfortunately our winter snowstorms have a mind of their own often dumping a lot of snow at once on your roof than you can handle. There are a number of companies who can do this for you. Don’t put yourself and your home at risk if you don’t have the equipment or help.
There is always talk of investing in Real Estate as part of your financial portfolio. But often, people look at residential properties first when looking for Rental Income Property. In the Real Estate Community, we differentiate between Residential and Condominium by their basic difference: one is a Freehold and the other is part of a Condominium Corporation and all that it implies. But often when Investor Clients are reviewing their options with their Realtor® they shy away from purchasing a Condo initially because of real and perceived costs associated with it.
When a potential purchaser is looking to invest in a Condo they should do some research to make sure it’s the right decision: demographics, economics and a number of other factors should weigh into the decision. Being aware of what kind of owners have purchased within that community (ie. Professionals, Retiree’s, Families) will ensure that the tenants are a good fit and enjoy their Lease Period as well as the Owners who live within the Condominium Corporation itself.
There are a number of ways that a Property Owner can work with the Condominium Corporation from the beginning:
1. Management Relations: Making sure that the Property Manager is engaged in when it’s being rented; with not only the standard ‘contact info sheet’ but also providing any contact info they need in case they need to reach you. Checking in with the Manager periodically will also serve to maintain a relationship of open communication and clear support from your role.
2. Tenant Relations: Working with your tenants to ensure they understand the By-Laws etc, will not only work to protect you from unwanted issues but it also engages the tenant to be responsible and involved in their living arrangement.
3. Neighbour Relations: Talking with the neighbours, and assuring them that you will not be an ‘Absentee Landlord’ along with providing your contact info with any questions will go a long way. (Also informing your tenants that you know the neighbours and they you will serve as a reminder of your involvement as an owner who cares about their investment).
A key point to ensuring a successful Rental Income is to understand that you are not just buying into the benefits of the Condominium Corporation, but are entering into an agreement that if treated like any other contract will provide you a positive framework towards your goal of a sound investment.
Contact Terra Firma Real Estate for inquiries regarding condominiums, investment, residential and commercial properties!