Tag: toronto real estate

Managing Client Expectations (Podcast)

Posted on July 9th, 2020

When you are dealing with the biggest transactions in your clients’ lives, you better be sure they have expectations. Your ability to understand your clients, and to communicate clear expectations, is vital to your relationships, and the overall experience.

In this episode, we discuss exactly how to manage expectations, and take clients and other stakeholders on a journey where surprises are limited, resulting in greater trust and the best possible experience (no matter what happens with the dollars and cents).

It’s time to level up your ability to manage expectations.

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Level Up Your Commission (Podcast)

Posted on June 8th, 2020

Your’e making good commission on your deals – but are you really?

It’s time you take a look at the money you’re taking home at the end of the day. Are you spending too much? Are you saving enough? This episode deconstructs the concept of ‘GCI’ (Gross Commissionable Earnings) and talks about what really matters to you, the dollahs you actually put in your bank. Don’t measure your success the way your brokerage measures it, it’s time to level up your commission.

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How To Create A Business Plan With Focus (Podcast)

Posted on January 15th, 2020

Balance comes out with a new episode EVERY TUESDAY, so follow us, subscribe, and make sure you’re kept up to date with all the new content we’re going to keep throwing your way!

In our last episode of the decade, we are diving into the plan for the new year. Everybody knows what they want, but what do you have to do to actually make sure you get achieve it?

We talk about the steps we’ve learned to take (that actually work) in planning out a business for the year ahead. We talk about setting goals, staying focused, and employing tactics, rather than concepts.

Happy New Year Everyone! Go make your goals happen!

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OREA’s New Forms, Clauses & Updates – Your 2020 Coles Notes Review

Posted on December 19th, 2019

It’s that time of year! New OREA forms and form updates for the real estate industry (cue the happy dance)!

While many of the changes this year are minor in nature, being aware of the updates as a consumer as well as a real estate salesperson/broker is important.  These changes take effect as of January 1, 2020 so get well-versed in what’s new so you are prepared and ready to go.  The links to each form will lead real estate agents to the appropriate forms on the OREA website.  The forms are also at the bottom of this blog post for consumers to review directly.

 

 

New Forms

1. Form 170: Consent To Advertise: you normally see it hidden in a brokerage’s standard Schedule B giving listing and co-operating real estate agents consent to advertise the sale price or other information pertaining to the sale of the listing.  This misguided consent to advertising clause hidden in a schedule to an agreement does a decent job of ensuring that real estate salespeople/brokers cover their butts when it comes to RECO’s Code of Ethics regarding consent to advertise, which says:

(7) A registrant shall not include anything in an advertisement that could reasonably be used to identify a party to the acquisition or disposition of an interest in real estate unless the party has consented in writing.  O. Reg. 580/05, s. 36 (7).

(8) A registrant shall not include anything in an advertisement that could reasonably be used to identify specific real estate unless the owner of the real estate has consented in writing.  O. Reg. 580/05, s. 36 (8).

(9) A registrant shall not include anything in an advertisement that could reasonably be used to determine any of the contents of an agreement that deals with the conveyance of an interest in real estate, including any provision of the agreement relating to the price, unless the parties to the agreement have consented in writing.  O. Reg. 580/05, s. 36 (9).

However, it doesn’t look very professional as this consent shouldn’t be tied into the other offer details.  This should be a separate discussion from the offer and now it is.  Form 170 covers this consent as it relates to sale price, anything that could identify any part to the sale, identification of the property and other terms related to the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.  The form must be initialled by both parties and there is no expiry date unless specifically noted in the form.  In addition, this form notes that advertising can only take effect once all conditions (if any) are fulfilled and the sale has become firm.

What does this mean for consumers? You may have seen this clause noted in an agreement of purchase and sale in the past.  You should now be asked to sign a separate form relating to advertising and it shouldn’t form part of the deal.  It is your choice whether or not you want to consent to allow your real estate agent and the other side’s real estate agent to be able to advertise details of the sale.  If you are a private person, having the sale details advertised may make you uncomfortable and you shouldn’t be obligated to sign the form.  However, if you are comfortable with allowing the sale of the home to be advertised, this gives your real estate agent a great opportunity to spread the word about his/her services, which helps their business.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? Get this new form signed and you will have the ability to advertise the sale.  Review the pros and cons with your client and ask your colleague to do the same with their client so you show that you are obtaining consent in a more professional and straightforward way.  If your broker of record or manager hasn’t done so already, ask that they remove the consent to advertise from the brokerage’s standard schedule B so that you can take care of this consent separately when the deal is firm.

2. Form 653: Co-Brokerage Agreement Between Buyer Brokerages: at times, real estate agents may be asked to work with a past client or be referred business in a trading area that may not be their forte.  Instead of referring it out, real estate agents now have the ability to collaborate!  This form allows real estate agents and brokers to work with colleagues from other brokerages to represent a buyer client as best as possible.  I can see this working with agents that might not be strong in a certain area but they are eager to learn from an experienced agent in that particular trading area.  Whether it’s for a commercial transaction, a rural property or a certain geographic area, this form can work well when two agents want to work together from different brokerages.

What does this mean for consumers? If your go-to real estate agent is not familiar with the type of home or area you are looking to purchase, it still gives you the option to work with him/her along with another agent who is well versed in the type of search you are conducting.  Sometimes, your real estate agent may opt to refer you directly to someone else, in which case a separate referral agreement (Form 641) can be signed and a referral fee is paid from the agent that has been referred the business to your own real estate agent for referring the business (usually around 25% of the commission earned).  However, if your real estate agent prefers to remain more active and can collaborate with another agent from another brokerage, they can sign this agreement to work together.

What does this mean for REALTORS®?  You now have a new way of operating your business – in a more collaborative way with other brokerages.  Don’t be afraid to seek out help from your colleagues.  A lot of us are eager to work together and learn from each other.  You never know – maybe the person you are seeking guidance from will do the same for you in the future.  It can be a win-win scenario and it helps to sharpen your business skills for future clients.

3. Form 304: Suspension of Buyer Representation Agreement: need a break?  Going out of town?  Want an alternative to cancelling a buyer representation agreement?  This gives a buyer client and their agent the opportunity to suspend the agreement temporarily for a certain period of time.  From the looks of things, this doesn’t extend the length of time of the original representation agreement in effect – it’s just a pause.

What does this mean for consumers? If you want to pause your real estate search, this gives you the ability to do so without a full-out cancellation.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? Buyer clients now have more options – just as seller clients do with Form 241 – Suspension of Listing Agreement.  It’s an option and should be offered as such if the right situation arises.

Changes to Forms:

1. Form 242: Cancellation of Listing Agreement and Form 301: Cancellation of Buyer Representation Agreement: a new section has been added to give the reason why the cancellation is happening.  This allows the cancellation to be better understood by all parties and leaves any misunderstandings behind.

What does this mean form consumers? It’s never fun to part ways with someone but sometimes it happens and when both parties have the opportunity to share why the cancellation is happening, it helps to put an end to that real estate chapter in a clear and concise way.  Having a better understanding why the cancellation occurred allows you the ability to find a more suitable real estate agent moving forward and ensures the same mistake is not made again.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? This is great for brokers of record and managers to track how their agents are doing with their clients.  Maybe there is an area of customer service that a particular agent needs some support with.  Maybe, some additional courses or mentoring is required.  As a real estate agent, reviewing this information with your manager or broker of record is a great idea.  Nobody is perfect and sometimes you don’t see eye to eye with your client on a particular search or sale.  Understanding what happened and making changes for the future will have a positive impact on your business moving forward.

2. Form 240: Amendment to Listing Agreement: slight change of wording from “Former Listing Price/Former Expiry Date” to “Current Listing Price/Current Expiry Date” to clear up any confusion relating to multiple price changes or expiry dates.  Similar changes were made to the following Form #205, #207, #212, #247, #305, #315, #348, #356, #521, #527, #534, $538, #541, #548, #552, and #556.

What does this mean form consumers? Not much – this is just a detail that has led to some confusion for real estate agents in the past.  It’s the same form with the same terms.

What does this mean for REALTORS®?  Not much – this just helps you to eliminate any confusion relating to the listing price and expiry date.

3. Other: many forms that had a “Witness” signature line have deleted the witness and replaced it with the name of the actual signer.

What does this mean form consumers? Again, not much.  You will just be asked to write your name on some forms beside your signature moving forward vs. searching for a witness.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? Minor change – no biggie.  If you are using an electronic signature program, there is an option to add a Name Block when your client is signing to automatically fill out your client’s name when they are signing.  You now have more use for this option!

Changes to Standard Clauses: none for this year – woohoo!

For a full list of all the changes, real estate agents can refer to OREA’s summary: https://www.orea.com/~/media/Files/Members/OREA-Standard-Forms/Change-Summaries/OREA-Standard-Forms-2020-Summary-of-Revisions.pdf.  In addition, OREA is planning a webinar on January 29th, 2020 to address real estate agent questions relating to these changes.  This post provides a summary of the most important aspects in our personal opinion.  Please take the time to review all of the changes.

REALTORS® – Did you know? 

There are 205 OREA standard forms and 300 OREA standard clauses.

According to OREA, the average Realtor uses approximately 15 – 20 standard forms each year. 

Reviewing the other forms and clauses you don’t use may assist you in better representing your clients over this next year.  Each of these forms were made for our profession so why not educate yourself on the best way to make use of them?  OREA makes changes and creates new forms based on the feedback from its members.  Make sure you are taking the time to provide this vital feedback so our industry can stay on top of the changing landscape of our real estate businesses.


For last year’s updates and changes, please refer to our blog post: OREA’s New Forms, Clauses & Updates – Your 2019 Coles Notes Review.


FOR CONSUMERS: ALL THE FORMS

 

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All About Live-Work Properties

Posted on October 23rd, 2019

Homeownership can be a challenge in the GTA.  Home prices coupled with the desire to grow your business with a commercial space can add to that financial stress.  While some people can find solutions with co-working and shared space opportunities, others want to offer their customers a dedicated space.  Purchasing a live-work property gives entrepreneurs and small business owners the flexibility of having both a residential and commercial space in one.  While this option can be appealing, there are some things to keep in mind prior to starting your search:

1) Availability: there are limited options in the GTA for live-work units.  Working with a Realtor who can source different options can make your search easier.  However, you may have to sacrifice your ideal location in order to get into the right space.  Pre-construction condo projects are a good place to start as some developers offer live-work units on the ground level of their buildings.  Tip for Realtors: when looking for these types of spaces for your clients, a keyword search for “live work” in the Client Remarks or Brokerage Remarks of MLS will help find a list of opportunities.
2) Financing: not all lenders will finance mix-use properties. “Major banks won’t fund these properties under their residential financing policies.” says John Sinnott, mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centres.  “For a property to be financed residentially, it cannot have more than 20% space allocated commercially. If it does, they consider it a commercial deal with different rates and policies.” continues Mr. Sinnott.  CMHC and comparable insurers will only insure spaces with less than 25% commercial space. Lucy Gagliardi, a mortgage broker with OZ Capital suggests: “have your income, down payment and current mortgage statement and property tax bill ready to give to your mortgage broker so that they can determine accurate figures for you before you go out looking.”  We agree – there’s no sense starting a search if you don’t have a sufficient down payment or you are unable to comfortably afford a property like this.
 
3) Property Taxes: the property taxes on live-work properties are higher, however they are assessed depending on the ratio of the space.  Therefore,  you would only pay the commercial tax rate for your commercial square footage. Also, all of the utilities are charged at a commercial rate and are not flexible depending on residential space.
4) Rules and Regulations: many live-work properties are condominium units.  Each condominium corporation has a set of rules regarding the use of all of the units within the building – including the live-work units.  Restrictions regarding the type of business, hours of operation, ability to make aesthetic changes to the unit (inside or out) or add signage could all impact your ability to run your business.  Hiring a real estate lawyer to review these rules along with the entire status certificate for the condominium, will ensure the property you are considering makes sense for you and your business.
5) Zoning: all commercial units are zoned for certain uses.  Together with your Realtor, ensuring that the permitted use of the commercial space will work for your business is essential.
6) Legal: Samuel Kazen, real estate lawyer with Hamburg Olson Kazen Law Professional Corporation, offers the following advice: “You don’t want to be subsidizing any purely residential units in the same building. If the property is in a building that has purely residential units, it would be wise to compare the common expenses you would be paying for a live-work unit to one of the residential units of comparable size. If you would be paying a lot more (as is often the case), then you might want to look elsewhere.”  Further, he suggests to “make sure whatever entity you are using to purchase the property is an HST registrant. Otherwise, the vendor would be required to remit HST and would seek to collect HST from you.”  Finally, “if the vendor wishes to structure the sale as a sale of shares to his/her corporation, make sure you obtain a full indemnity against any liability that may be associated with that corporation.”
7) Investment Opportunity: since these types of properties are few and far between, purchasing one as an investment could be a good way to get into the real estate investment world.  Your Realtor can guide you in terms of the rental opportunity available and can better direct you towards the properties that will yield you a good return.  Location (as with any property) is key and ensuring you are aware of the rules associated with leasing these units is important as well.
To get you started, here is a list of live-work opportunities throughout the GTA:
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Buying A Home With Kids

Posted on October 10th, 2019

Finding a new home when you have kids can be a challenge.  There’s so much more to consider beyond the home itself.  Schools, community centres, programs, and safety are all important factors that need to be investigated to avoid any regret down the road.  You want to make sure that the transition is as painless as possible for your little ones and that normally takes some extra due diligence on your part and your Realtor’s part.  So what should you consider?  Here is a list of our top kid friendly home inspection items:

 1) Neighbour check: kids like to play outside – front yard, back yard, side yard – which means you’ll likely be seeing your neighbours a lot more than if you didn’t have kids. Introducing yourself and your family to your potential neighbours can help.  Does your neighbour hate kids?  Does he own a crazy aggressive dog? While you may not be able to give your potential neighbour a full blown interrogation with a full set of fingerprints and a DNA test, a simple introduction will give you a better idea of who you could be living beside for the next one, two, five, ten or more years.  Your potential neighbours are also the best source to get all of the details about the area from – pros and cons.
 
2) Visit the neighbourhood more than once.  if you’re seeing the home on Monday at 7pm, go visit on Saturday at 11am.  If you’re there for the weekend open house, go visit on a Thursday at 8pm.  This way, you get a more complete picture of the neighbourhood.  
 
3) Visit the parks: if living in a community with other young families is important to you, visit the local parks.  If the parks are filled with teenagers smoking pot or more dogs than kids, the neighbourhood might not be the right one for you.  
 
4) Visit the local schools: your kids will be spending the majority of their days at school.  You want to make sure the school they will be attending is welcoming, engaging, well respected, and whatever other qualities are important to you as a family.  
 
5) Consider commute times: make sure that the commute to and from your place of employment won’t leave you stressed out and scrambling to pick up the kids from school each day.  With that said, confirming the start and end times for school and availability for before and after school programs might have an impact on your home buying decision.  For example, my kids start school at 8am and end at 2:30pm.  This makes a typical 9 to 5 schedule at work very hard to adhere to if there is no after school program available.
 
6) Extra-curricular programming: does your child love swimming?  Soccer?  Hockey? Depending on how important these extra-curricular programs are to you and your family, you may want to visit the community centres and sports clubs in the neighbourhood to find out the options and availability of programs.  
 
7) Daycares: if your kids aren’t in school yet, then the hunt for the right daycare can be a challenge.  Some daycares don’t offer half day or part time programs while others cost more than you expect.  A family will want to make sure they have enough options to consider when it comes to finding a new daycare for their little one.
 
8) Street traffic: is the street you are considering purchasing a home on a short cut for impatient rush hour drivers?  Do you back onto a street with a loud bus route that runs around the clock? Listening and watching for local traffic at different times of the day and on different days will help you better understand how safe and peaceful your potential new neighbourhood really is.
 
9) Pollution and safety hazards: if you see a home at 8pm on a Monday, you may not notice the cell phone tower nearby or the factory down the street.  Again, check things out during the day and do a Google satellite map search to see what you might be missing.
 
10) Get the kids involved.  Depending on your child, including their age and personality, the idea of moving can range from pure excitement to pure anger.  Involving your kids in the decision making as much as possible – choosing what homes to see, determining what characteristics make a good home, scoping out the neighbourhood with you (maybe take them out of school for an afternoon to explore!) – will help them to be more engaged in the process and become a bit more positive about a potential move.
 
We hope that these tips help to make the process of finding a new home for your family easier.  It may seem like a lot of extra work but you do not want to regret a home purchase decision.  Having a trusted Realtor by your side will help make that process smoother by providing knowledge and expertise about the neighbourhood and the home you are interested in purchasing.  
 
 
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Why We Said ‘Yes’ to Zillow

Posted on April 2nd, 2019

Can you believe it?  On The Block Realty Inc. has actually opted into Zillow displaying our listings on their website.  Yes, that’s right – we’ve sold our souls to the devil, surrendered to the enemy and are currently digging our own graves.

But hold up.  Who or what is Zillow?  If you aren’t in the real estate industry worried what Zillow is planning to do to our profession, you may have never heard of this company before, especially if you live in Canada.  In simple terms, Zillow is a real estate marketplace with a serious focus on technology and innovation.   Think of realtor.ca on steroids. From artificial intelligence that gives consumers a better user experience to Zillow’s home price estimate tool (called Zestimate home values), the company is continually evolving and empowering consumers with information.

I recently attended a Zillow event where employees of the company bravely stood in front of a large group of GTA real estate salespersons, brokers, managers and owners and answered the tough questions and debunked many of the myths that Zillow has fallen victim to due to their ‘disruptive’ approaches.

First, let’s look at some of the company’s most recent stats:

  • 195 million monthly users
  • 80% of US homes viewed on Zillow
  • $1.3 Billion in Revenue for 2018
  • 2 million real estate professionals listed on Zillow

How does Zillow make money?  Their main source of income comes from real estate professionals, property management companies and mortgage brokers paying to advertise to the millions of users flocking to their site daily.  Real estate professionals who pay to be “Premier Agents” can create targeted ads by location (not available to REALTORS® in Canada yet).  The higher the demand for that particular location, the higher the advertising cost.

Whether you are a skeptic or a supporter, Zillow is a company that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  It’s a billion-dollar company that caters to consumers and gives them the ultimate user experience.  For real estate professionals, Zillow provides the opportunity to get in front of potential clients and market your listings to a huge audience.  Yes, it will cost money but what kind of effective advertising or lead generation opportunity doesn’t cost money?  It’s also important to note that you aren’t forced to spend money with Zillow. Free options are available through the site.  A real estate brokerage can opt into getting all of their company’s listings added to the site for free.  Real estate salespeople and brokers can also create their own profile (a great way to market yourself), add client testimonials and receive leads on your own listings posted to the site (if your brokerage has opted in).

Should we be giving Zillow access to our listings?  From our perspective, we currently give access to our listings (for the most part) to other real estate sites that have opted into the listing feed with our local board, so what’s the difference?  More exposure?  More visitors?  Better stats about interest for the home?  How is that a bad thing?  Sure, those other brokerage sites aren’t actively making money by selling buyer leads to other REALTORS® but if a consumer visits a competing brokerage site, sees your listing and contacts a salesperson from that brokerage to see the home, aren’t they stealing your business?  How dare they! Or is this just another opportunity to sell your client’s home faster?

Here’s our perspective.  We can’t be so protective over our listings.  Listings shouldn’t be used as a way to generate more business.  Sure, listings typically generate leads, but that’s not the point, that’s a bonus.  At its core, when a home owner hires you to sell their home, they deserve the best possible service, which doesn’t include fighting over buyer leads.  We should want and be expected to expose a client’s home to the maximum number of buyers and what better way to do that then through a site that is likely going to be one of the (if not THE) top home search destination for consumers?

More importantly, before making a judgement or choice about what to do for your brokerage, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and personally educate yourself on Zillow or any other ‘disruptor’ out there.  There are so many new companies, new approaches and new technologies entering our industry and although they may seem threatening from the outside, once you understand their goals, process and why they exist, you may realize that a lot of these companies were created to address a need that likely is focused on putting the consumer first.  Our brokerage has taken a similar approach and it only makes sense to embrace others who are doing the same.

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Top 11 Misconceptions – Landlord and Tenant Rights

Posted on January 23rd, 2019

$500 damage deposit.  No pets allowed.  Landlord requires 6 months deposit up front.  Post-dated cheques required.  WRONG.

It’s been almost a year – a year since the Standard Form of Lease was made available by the Government of Ontario to help clear up the inconsistencies that you typically see in rental agreements/contracts.  This form lays it all out – the details about the specific unit (i.e. parking, utilities, etc.) along with the rights and responsibilities of both tenant and landlord as per the Residential Tenancies Act.  Any landlord entering into an agreement to lease for either a single family home, apartment unit, condo unit or secondary unit like a basement apartment must complete this form (as of April 30th, 2018) and provide it to their tenant to sign.

Unfortunately, even with this new form, inconsistencies and misunderstandings still come up all the time in rental agreements and listings.  Based on our experience, we wanted to outline the top 11 misunderstandings we witness regarding rentals.

  1. Landlord won’t supply the keys unless 10 post-dated cheques for the remaining rent term are provided: WRONG.  The tenant can elect to pay by post-dated cheques but they are not required to do so.
  2. Landlord is charging an administration charge for a NSF cheque: RIGHT.  But it can only be A MAXIMUM of $20.
  3. Rent deposits are not allowed: WRONG.  A rent deposit is allowed but it can only be the amount of one rental period and can only be applied to the last month that the tenant is living in the unit – NOT the last month of that rental period.  For example, if a tenant signs a one year lease beginning in January and provides a deposit of one month’s rent to be applied to December, if the tenant then elects to stay in the rental property longer, that deposit is carried forward until the last month that the tenant is actually living in the unit.  In addition, the landlord is required to pay interest on the deposit amount each year.
  4. The landlord cannot charge a key deposit: WRONG.  A landlord is allowed to charge a key deposit BUT the cost of this deposit can only represent the true cost of replacing the keys and cannot be applied to anything else (i.e damage).  This deposit must be refunded once the tenant returns the keys when they move out.
  5. The landlord cannot stop a tenant from smoking in the property: WRONG.  While the Residential Tenancies Act doesn’t address smoking, the Standard Form of Lease does provide space to address this concern.  The Landlord can outline smoking rules and prohibit smoking (including cannabis products) if they choose to do so.
  6. The landlord can require the tenant to obtain liability insurance: RIGHT.  The landlord is allowed to ask the tenant to obtain liability insurance and ask for proof of coverage.
  7. Common clause seen in rental agreements: “Tenant is responsible for paying the first $100 of all repairs to the unit.” – WRONG.  Has anyone seen this clause in an agreement to lease before?  Probably, yes.  This is not allowed. The tenant IS responsible for the full cost of repairs due to their own negligence but owe nothing when it comes to regular maintenance and other issues commonly encountered in any property (i.e. appliance stops working, plumbing issues, etc.).  The landlord must keep the rental unit and property in good repair and comply with all health, safety and maintenance standards.
  8. Landlord can evict a tenant for having a pet: RIGHT. BUT for only the following reasons:
    • The pet makes too much noise, damages the unit or causes other tenants to have allergic reactions
    • The breed or species is inherently dangerous, or
    • The rules of the condominium corporation do not allow pets.

The landlord cannot enforce a no pet rule for reasons beyond those noted above – this is an unenforceable term.  In addition, the landlord cannot charge a pet deposit in case of doggy damage.  Of course, the tenant is responsible for their pet and must repair any damages as a result of that pet.  If a tenant has been charged a damage or pet deposit, they can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to get the money back.

9. Landlord can require tenant to sign for another year rental period after the first year is over: WRONG.  The tenant and landlord can agree to another fixed term tenancy but are not required to.  If the tenant was originally on a fixed year term, they will automatically go month to month unless both parties agree to another fixed term lease.

10. Landlord is selling the rental property so the Tenant must move out.  WRONG.   The tenant must move out (with the proper 60 days notice) only IF the new owner of the property wants to occupy the unit him/herself or has a family member occupying the unit.  This notice can be provided once an agreement to purchase has been finalized and it’s been determined that the new owner plans to use the home for personal reasons.

11. Tenant can hold back rent payments while waiting for the landlord to fix or make repairs to the property.  WRONG.  The tenant must pay their rent but if the landlord isn’t keeping the property in good repair, the tenant may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for assistance.

 

What’s the deal with rent increases?  If you’ve been listening to the news, you’ve probably been hearing some changes to rent increase guidelines over the past couple of years.  It’s important to understand your rights as a landlord and as a tenant when it comes to this important piece of the rent equation:

  • Landlord must give 90 days notice for any rent increase and provide notice on the proper Landlord and Tenant Board Form (N1)
  • Landlord has the right to increase rent every 12 months
  • Landlord can only increase the rent by the guideline amount (based on CPI) up to a maximum of 2.5% (even if CPI is higher than this).  Coincidentally, the interest the landlord must pay on the last month’s rent deposit is equal to this same amount.
  • Landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board using form L5 to increase rent beyond the rent guideline for the following reasons:
    • Their municipal taxes have increased by more than the guideline plus 50 per cent. (For example, if the guideline is 1.8%, the taxes must have increased by more than 2.7 %).
    • They incurred operating costs related to security services.
    • They incurred eligible capital expenditures.
  • IF a unit was first occupied as a residential space after November 15, 2018, these units DO NOT fall under the rent control guidelines and therefore, landlords can charge whatever increase they want while still following the 90 days notice and only one increase per year rule.  A similar loophole (dubbed the 1991 loophole) was just abolished in 2017 by the Liberal Government.  We’ll see how long this new loophole lasts but it’s important for tenants to be aware of this rule when searching for a new property to rent.

There you have it – your review of the rental rules in Ontario.  If you are a landlord, tenant or Realtor, please read through the Standard Form of Lease in its entirety.  It’s important to know your/your client’s rights and responsibilities.  In addition, if you see a clause in a rental listing or agreement that goes against the rules, make sure to point it out so that these common misconceptions can start to clear up with each and every new rental agreement.

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OREA’s New Forms, Clauses & Updates – Your 2019 Coles Notes Review

Posted on January 10th, 2019

It’s a new year which means new OREA forms, updates to existing ones and new clauses (can I get a what what).  Yes, this news might not be mind blowing enough to make you race to your computer to learn more but this is important.  Seriously.  Think about what could happen:

  • You look unprepared with a client or potential client
  • You look unprepared to an agent with whom you’re negotiating
  • You look unprepared in general
  • You could be one of those people who asks a question on a Realtor Facebook forum relating to these changes and get responses like this: “Why don’t you read the OREA updates, stupid.” “Don’t you know there’s a new form for that, stupid?” “Why don’t you know this? You are so stupid.”
  • You will feel stupid

There were A LOT of changes this year but thankfully, most of them are housekeeping related changes that won’t throw you off your game when reviewing an updated document.  However, it is important to still review the changes because a) you don’t want to look unprepared and b) you don’t want to look stupid.

To get you started on the path of learning more, here is my list of the most important changes for this year (based on my market of residential sales in the GTA):

  • New representation agreements for rental listings along with corresponding schedules and amendments related to these forms.
    • Form 346 – Tenant Representation – Agreement Authority for Lease: have you ever had a tenant question why the hell they are signing a form that says BUYER representation agreement? Well, OREA now has you covered with a much more understandable and appropriate Form 346.
    • Form 245 – Landlord Customer Service Agreement: used when a rental property is not listed but you have introduced/shown a tenant the property and want to set up a commission arrangement with the landlord. Point 3 – Representation and Customer Service in this form outlines in detail that the Brokerage is providing Customer Service to the Landlord and what the means for the business relationship – pretty useful in my opinion.
    • Form 353  Tenant Customer Service Agreement: when you list a property for lease and an unrepresented tenant wants to make an offer, use this form.
  • Residential/Commercial Listing Agreements & Buyer Representation Agreements have added an additional circle to initial on the first page where the seller or buyer acknowledges that they aren’t party to any other representation agreement with another agent (because you can’t trust anybody these days!)
  • Handy Clauses:
    1. ACC – 10 Seller to Provide Security Code(s): The Seller agrees to provide to the Buyer on or before closing any security codes necessary in order to control any security system or devices within or upon the property.
    2. CANNABIS – 1 Buyer Acknowledgement: The Buyer acknowledges that the use of the property and buildings and structures thereon may have been for the sale, distribution, cultivation, propagation or harvesting of cannabis or cannabis plants in accordance with the provisions of the Cannabis Act, S.C. 2018 c. 16 and the provisions of the Cannabis Act, S.O. 2017, c. 26 as amended from time to time and acknowledges that the Seller makes no representations and/or warranties with respect to the state of repair of the premises and the Buyer accepts the property and the buildings and structures thereon in their present state and in an “as is” condition.
    3. CANNABIS – 2 – Seller Represents and Warrants: The Seller represents and warrants that during the time the Seller has owned the property, the use of the property and the buildings and structures thereon has not been for the sale, distribution, cultivation, propagation or harvesting of any cannabis or cannabis plants within the meaning of the Cannabis Act, S.C. 2018 c. 16 and the provisions of the Cannabis Act, S.O. 2017, c. 26 as amended from time to time and that to the best of the Seller’s knowledge and belief, the use of the property and the buildings and structures thereon has never been for the cultivation, propagation or harvesting of any cannabis plants within the meaning of the Cannabis Act, S.C. 2018 c. 16 and the provisions of the Cannabis Act, S.O. 2017, c. 26 as amended from time to time.  This warranty shall survive and not merge on the completion of this transaction.
    4. LEASE/RES – 18 Tenant Cannabis Restriction (great for landlords!!): The Tenant and any occupants of the premises and, including without limitation, any visitors, guests and business invitees shall not sell, distribute, cultivate, propagate or harvest any cannabis or cannabis plants within the meaning of the Cannabis Act, S.C. 2018 c. 16 and the Cannabis Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 26 as amended from time to time, anywhere in or upon the premises rented by the Tenant, the building where Tenant’s premises are located or in any of the common areas or adjoining grounds of such building. Contravention of this provision shall be deemed to be a material breach of the lease and grounds for termination of the lease.
    5. LEASE/RES – 19 Tenant Shall Not Smoke (yay!): The Tenant and any occupants of the premises and, including without limitation, any visitors, guests and business invitees shall not smoke anywhere in or upon the premises rented by the Tenant, the building where Tenant’s premises are located or in any of the common areas or adjoining grounds of such building, except for the following designated smoking area(s) (Insert Text).

      For purposes of this provision, the term “smoke” or “smoking” means to inhale, exhale, burn or have control over a lighted cigarette, lighted cannabis cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah pipe or other lighted smoking implement designed to burn tobacco or any other substance, including without limitation, cannabis as defined in the Cannabis Act, SC 2018 c16 as amended from time to time for the purpose of inhaling or tasting of its emission. Contravention of this provision shall be deemed to be a material breach of the lease and grounds for termination of the lease.

    6. NEW – 03 HST – New Homes (finally!!): The Buyer and the Seller acknowledge and agree that the HST payable in connection with the purchase and sale transaction contemplated by this Agreement of Purchase and Sale is included in the purchase price subject to the provisions hereinafter set out. Notwithstanding that the purchase price payable by the Buyer includes HST, the Buyer hereby assigns and transfers to the Seller all of the Buyer’s rights, title and interest in any rebates, refunds or credits available, including Federal Sales Tax rebates and HST rebates to which the Buyer is entitled in connection with the payment of HST payable on the transfer to the Buyer of ownership or possession of the property. The Buyer further appoints and authorizes the Seller or the Seller’s agents to be the Buyer’s authorized representative and attorney for the purposes of applying for and collecting such tax rebates. The Buyer agrees to execute, at no cost to the Seller, any and all documents required to give effect to this provision. The Buyer represents and warrants to the Seller that the Buyer shall personally occupy the property or cause one or more of the Buyer’s relations to occupy the property as the Buyer’s or the Buyer’s relation’s primary place of residence upon completion and agrees to deliver to the Seller on closing a Statutory Declaration in the Seller’s form in which the Buyer declares that the property being purchased by the Buyer is for use as the Buyer’s or the Buyer’s relation’s primary place of residence and will be so occupied forthwith upon completion. In the event that the Buyer breaches the warranty or any of the provisions referred to above which results in the Buyer being ineligible or the Seller being unable to obtain the rebates referred to herein then the Buyer shall pay to the Seller forthwith an amount equal to the amount which the Buyer would have been eligible to obtain were it not for such breach or failure to carry out the Buyer’s obligations.

 

Ready to learn more?  Of course, you are!  Your real estate board should have sent out an email with a detailed review of the changes that you likely ignored or trashed before reading (no offence – don’t worry, I do it too).  Or click on this link (you’ll need to login first) for a full review from OREA – https://www.orea.com/~/media/Files/Members/OREA-Standard-Forms/Change-Summaries/OREA-Standard-Forms-2019-Summary-of-Revisions.pdf.  Happy learning!

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Home Sale Prices Will Be Made Public In Toronto – What Does This Mean For You?

Posted on August 24th, 2018

*Since this article was written, there have been some updates from TREB.  The updates will be shown throughout the article in red.

After a seven-year battle between the Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled yesterday that it will not hear TREB’s case to keep the sale prices, historical listing data along with historical sale prices of home sales private.  Within the next 60 days, the general public will be able to access this data through password protected sites operated by real estate brokerages, sales representatives and other real estate related companies who choose to make this information public.  

This change will help to bring more information, choice and transparency to consumers and will enable the real estate industry to use this data in innovative ways.  As the industry waits to see how quickly this information will be made available, many people are likely asking the question, what does this mean for me?  Here is our rundown of what to expect, and what we all still need to know.

For Consumers:

Consumers have been limited to the information to which they have access when it comes to buying or selling a home.  Why is this home priced so low?  How long has this owner owned the home?  I could have sworn I saw this home listed for $20,000 more a few months ago – what’s going on?  Well, now you will be able to do some of your own research should you choose to do so. 

What do you need to look out for?

Within 60 days (by October 22nd, 2018), you will be able to access this information through a variety of different real estate websites.  Some sites have already started to offer this service without waiting for formal instruction from TREB.  Those sites that jumped right in may have to change their process once TREB decides the proper protocol, so be cognizant that logging in to a real estate website now may encounter some slight or major changes in the next couple of months.  TREB has also confirmed that anyone publishing this information now are not allowed to do so.  Therefore, it would be expected that some of the sites that already provide this information may stop doing it in order to comply with the direction from TREB.

Don’t want the sale price of your home made public on these real estate sites?  More information about this should be made available soon on how to opt out. Right now, you can opt out of being a part of MLS when you list your home, and this ruling did state that such an opt out is still necessary, it is unclear as to whether there will be a specific opt out for just the historical data. However, it’s important to note that ANYONE can access the sale price of your home at any time through the land registry office for a small fee so this information won’t be (and has never been) kept completely confidential.  Furthermore, anyone who knows a Realtor (with almost 60,000 of us, we’re not hard to find!) can find out this information quickly with a quick email, text or call.

Based on TREB’s recent email to members, it appears as though an opt out option might not be available and all data “could be made available on a VOW as of October 22nd, 2018.”  TREB will continue to provide updates and listen to the feedback from the public/members and ensure privacy is kept a priority.

What does this mean to you?

You will now have more information at your fingertips.  Realtors will still provide the experience, education and tools to help you interpret this data, but accessing it will become faster and easier.

Will this access to information cost you money?

For now, it doesn’t appear that brokerages offering this information will charge for it, however there is the requirement that people accessing the data have a username and password from the site they use.  It is doubtful that accessing this information will ever cost you money but that doesn’t stop some companies from trying.  Keep this in mind as you navigate the different sites that begin to offer more information, and don’t sign up for a site that charges for accessing this soon to be public information.

TREB has stated that “the information can only be used for the purpose of engaging in residential real estate brokerage services” and “cannot be monetized in any way.”  Therefore, if you do see a website trying to monetize this information, make sure to report them immediately to TREB or notify your Realtor who can contact TREB themselves.

For Realtors & Brokerages:

As Realtors, we now have the opportunity to think of new and innovative ways to use this data.  Whether through the creation of more robust tools to interpret and display data for the public, thinking of next level opportunities such as artificial intelligence or working with other industries to harness the power of this data – the opportunities are endless.  

Will your TREB fees go up or down? 

One could argue that because TREB is providing the same information to Realtors as they are to the general public, that Realtor fees should go down.  This would be because the information is not as exclusive anymore, therefore not as valuable to a Realtor. The access to this information however, still needs to come through TREB, and as there is more information being accessed now, TREB could try to charge MORE for accessing this additional information.  In other areas where this sort of data had been made available (such as parts of the United States), there were different charges for the amount of data being accessed from member boards, with a higher price tag on data feeds including historical data.

TREB has confirmed that “fees will not be impacted by this decision.”

What will be the cost to implement this information on your own website? 

While it seems as though a flick of the switch is all that’s needed to implement this additional information, you will still need to involve your developer to set up a password protected part of your site if you haven’t already done so.  It’s a great idea to start discussing this with the person or company who handles your site to give them a heads up about what’s to come and what they need to do in order to offer this information on your site (if you choose to do so). There may also be new processes and interpretations (with new costs) required to better integrate the larger and differently laid out data into your searches or reports (this is especially if you are currently pulling the less robust data into a preset model on your website).

Will Realtor.ca or tools such as TREB’s Collaborate System begin to offer sold price data as well? 

The hope is yes.  It only makes sense for TREB to help direct as many people as possible to those sites in order to best serve our industry.  How and if Realtor.ca does integrate this data into their public searches should be watched in order to determine what similar (or enhanced) features your own sites can offer. Weigh the potential costs and benefits so that you aren’t committing a large amount of resources to replicate something already offered.

How will this impact other boards of which you are a member? 

Many members of TREB are also a part of other boards throughout the GTA – for example, the Mississauga Real Estate Board (MREB) and the Oakville Milton District Real Estate Board (OMDREB) share their MLS through a system called Ortis.  For now, these boards are not opening up their sales data so depending on the area you are working in, your clients will not have access to data outside of Toronto, which can be confusing.  However, it can be expected that now that the largest real estate board in Canada is opening up their sales data, other boards will consider following suit.  

TREB has communicated that they also expect other boards to change their practices as well.

What happens with interboard listings? 

Sometimes, a Realtor from another board will list their property on their own MLS system.  This listing will then appear on their home board and the Realtor will often go through a process called ‘interboarding’ in order to list it on the Toronto MLS as well.  Will the sale price data transfer to TREB once the home is sold?  What happens if the agent fails to list the home on TREB and just has it on their own home board?  Will historical data be limited only to the times a property was available to TREB? There may be some missing information as a result.  

TREB has confirmed that the order will apply only to those listings that appear on the Stratus system, including interboarded listings.  Therefore, if the listing is interboarded, the sale price information will be made available.

What about sales that are pending, firm but not closed, etc?

Once a sale is closed, the data is definitely available to the public (as it is now through land registry), but what about the information on a property that has sold but isn’t closed yet? In other markets where sold data is made public, the information is released once the deal is closed, not once conditions are waived. Classifications such as ‘pending escrow’ (which would equate to ‘funds in trust’) would be an option, but releasing sale prices prior to a ‘sale’ being official could have dangerous consequences. TREB will need to be clear on their plans.

The official ruling defines the disputed data as: “the data in the MLS System Database including the archived data, with respect to sold and pending sold homes, withdrawn, expired, suspended or terminated listings, and offers of commission to brokers who represent the successful purchaser.”  The ruling goes on to state that the conditionally sold listings are not included in the disputed data.  For all the details on this ruling, click here.

For Everyone:

For consumers, Realtors and brokerages, the next 60 days will be a very important time.  It is time to keep your head up, be aware of the opportunities and ask questions. There is not an absolute method that has been prescribed in how this information will be made available, and what conditions may be placed on the release of the information. Knowing that this decision took seven years to come to fruition, TREB’s opposition implies that they have also been preparing an interpretation of the ruling that may look different than the industry is expecting.

As a brokerage built on transparency and innovation, this is most certainly an exciting and important time for On The Block. We are making sure to look beyond the ruling into the consequences that may follow, and we are preparing not just for more data, but for the nuance that surrounds it, and the ways that this information can better serve our clients and the public. As more information comes out about the methods in which the information will be provided and can be shared, brokerages and agents need to be nimble enough to make the new process available and useful to the public. Conversely, the public needs to stay aware of the new tools that will quickly become available in allowing them to make more informed decisions.

There will be a learning curve and some adjustment needed, but this decision is a step in the right direction to a more transparent and innovative industry. We will keep a close eye on developments, and look forward to helping people make use of this data in ways that add value and give them even more power in their real estate decisions.

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