Monday, September 27, 2010

Looking For Extra Large Space?

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Just Listed

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GTA REALTORS Report Mid-Month Resale Housing Figures

September 16, 2010 -- Greater Toronto REALTORS reported 2,623 sales through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) during the first two weeks of September 2010. This represented a 22 per cent decrease compared to the 3,361 sales recorded during the same period in 2009.

“Sales remain below the record pace we experienced in the second half of 2009. The prospect of higher interest rates and new mortgage lending guidelines resulted in higher than normal sales in the first few months of the year. To balance this out, the pace of sales has slowed in the second half,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Bill Johnston.

“It is important to note that year-to-date sales remain above the number reported through the same period last year,: added Johnston.

The average price for September mid-month transactions was $412,367 – up 5% compared to the average of $393,818 recorded during the first 14 days of September 2009.

“Under current lending standards, the average selling price is affordable for a household earning the average income in the GTA. The annual price growth we have been experiencing has been justified by this positive affordability picture,” said Jason mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

Monday, September 13, 2010

TREB: Energy efficiency for all homes, new and old

Toronto Star Column --September 10, 2010 -- Bill Johnston, President of the Toronto Real Estate Board.
When it comes to character, you just can't beat the charm of an older home. Newly constructed homes however, come with their own unique assets, one of the most noteworthy of which is energy efficiency.From the roof to the foundation, a number of innovative building practices often go into constructing today's greenest homes.Roof shingles for example, are now available in recycled materials. Environmentally friendly spray foam insulation, which can help prevent dampness, keep out pollutants and contribute to structural strength, is even partially made with recycled materials.Roofs, walls and floors can be insulated as well with special structural panels that consist of two layers of board with insulating foam in between them. The forms that are used to mould a home's poured concrete foundation can now also be found with insulating ability, and barriers that prevent dampness from rising into the foundation can be used at this stage of construction as well. Even exterior cladding is now insulated to offer greater energy efficiency.If you prefer an older home though, there are many simple ways to make it more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Start with an Energy Star programmable thermostat that will save on heating and cooling costs when you're not home. You can take this approach a step further by investing in a new high efficiency furnace or air conditioner. Adding insulation to the attic of your home will offer reduced energy costs for years to come as well. A tank-less water heater will also save on energy costs by providing only the amount of heated water that you need rather than maintaining it in a cylinder.Even making minor changes can have an impact, like choosing energy efficient light bulbs - Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are good and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are even better.If you're planning to make cosmetic changes to your home you can do your part for the environment by choosing wood flooring, and even carpet, made with recycled content. Look for low VOC paints and stains as well, which reduce the number of unstable, carbon-containing compounds that enter the air and react with other elements.In the bathroom, you can keep more money in your pocket by installing low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets. Replacing old windows with low-E argon-filled units that have the Energy Star symbol can make a dramatic difference to your home's energy efficiency as well.Changing your old appliances with new Energy Star machines is also a great way to reduce energy consumption while enhancing the overall appeal of your home.Beyond enjoying the aesthetics, cost savings and fulfillment associated with helping the environment, you can also consider getting an energy audit to take full advantage of a number of government rebates for energy-saving home improvements. Please visit to learn more about them.Regardless of the approach you choose, remember that nothing can substitute for good-old fashioned conservation. Remember that the energy you save today may well be the energy that is needed tomorrow.

No Bubble to Burst

National Post Column --September 11, 2010 -- Bill Johnston, President of the Toronto Real Estate Board.
In August, there were 6,232 Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) transactions through the Toronto Real Estate Board, which represented a 22 per cent decline compared to August of 2009. The average price for these transactions was $411,012 – up six per cent compared to last year. Through the first eight months of the year, sales were up by eight per cent and the average selling price was up by 11 per cent compared to the January to August period in 2009.Since May, sales have been lower than last year's results. At the same time, the average selling price has continued to grow. This has led some individuals and organizations to suggest that a housing price bubble has emerged and that it is ready to pop at any time. An oft cited argument goes something like this:"Average selling prices have been rising above the rate of inflation for the better part of the last decade, so we should expect the average selling price to fall."I asked Jason Mercer, TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis to comment on whether or not house prices are currently in a bubble in the GTA. Here are some interesting points he put forth:"Many recent analyses addressing housing markets in Canada have not fully examined the interplay between home prices, borrowing costs and incomes. In the past, home prices have dropped markedly when a household earning an average income could no longer afford to carry a mortgage on an average priced home," said Mercer."As a rule of thumb, lenders will often consider a mortgage affordable if the annual principal and interest payments coupled with property taxes and utilities are less than 32 per cent of a household's gross income. Average home ownership costs have been less than or equal to 32 per cent of the average household income in the GTA for 14 of the last 15 years.* It is no coincidence that home prices have grown at a sustained clip over this same period," continued Mercer."The last time we experienced a prolonged drop in home prices was in the early 1990s when high home prices and mortgage rates combined to push the average cost of home ownership to more than 50 per cent of the average gross household income. A large increase in home prices and borrowing costs coupled with flat or declining household incomes would have to take place before a prolonged drop in home prices was once again justified," concluded Mercer.Ownership housing in the GTA is certainly more affordable today than in the early 1990s when we experienced a correction in home prices. During that period of time sales dropped dramatically, as affordability eroded, while listings remained very high. With a lot of choice in the marketplace, selling prices were negotiated downward. New listings spiked earlier in the year, but have since dropped back off. This means that we continue to see enough buyers competing for listings to push home prices up year-over-year.I will continue to discuss the different components of housing affordability in future articles as we progress through the fall market.*Author's Note: The TREB affordability indicator assumes the purchase of an existing home for the average selling price with a 20 per cent down payment, a five year fixed rate mortgage at the average rate, a 25 year amortization period and the estimated average property taxes, utility costs and household income.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

TREB MLS New Listings August 2010

TREB MLS -- Average Price Monthly Time Series with Trend Line

TREB MLS -- AVERAGE Resale Home Price -- August 2010

TREB MLS SALES --August 2010

August Sales and New Listings Down, Prices Up

September 3, 2010 -- Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 6,232 sales through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in August 2010. This represented a 22 per cent decrease compared to the 8,035 sales recorded during the same period in 2009. New listings decreased by one per cent year-over-year to 10,488."The prospect of interest rate hikes and new mortgage lending rules prompted some households to purchase a home sooner than they otherwise would have this year. The result has been a larger than normal dip in sales over the summer months. With this said, it is important to recognize that sales on the year were eight per cent higher than in 2009," said Toronto Real Estate Board President Bill Johnston.The average price for August transactions was $411,012 – up six per cent compared to the average of $387,921 reported in August 2009."Market conditions have remained tight enough to support higher home prices in comparison to last year. Under current mortgage lending standards, a household earning the average income in the GTA can comfortably afford the mortgage payments on an average priced home. Market conditions and the affordability picture would have to change dramatically before a sustained drop in the average selling price would take place," said Jason Mercer, TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Green Living - How to Avoid and Repel Mosquitoes Naturally

Nothing ruins a lovely summer evening faster than being attacked by hungry mosquitoes. With the arrival of the West Nile Virus, mosquitoes have become a dangerous insect for the first time in many years.
The best defense against mosquitoes is to avoid being bit. Understanding what attracts mosquitoes is as important as understanding what repels them. Here are some tips for controlling mosquitoes around your home without pesticides or other dangerous chemicals.
Destroy the mosquitoes habitat Most mosquitoes will breed in any still fresh or salty water. They are also likely to breed in salt marshes, woodland pools and some plants. Mosquitoes can also enter a geographical area by traveling a distance being carried by the wind.
The first step you should take is to examine your yard thoroughly a day or two after a heavy rainfall, looking for areas with standing water that might harbour mosquito larvae. Not all of these areas will be natural—in fact, some mosquitoes show a decided preference for breeding in old tires and similar man-made water collectors. Dump out any standing water you find, or better yet, remove the breeding habitat completely.
If you own a pond, consider adding a waterfall or fountain to prevent the water from becoming stagnant. To help control mosquito production, you may also add copepod or aquatic predators of mosquito.
Keep grasses and bushes trimmed down to reduce daytime harbourages.
Use plants that repel mosquitoes There are a number of plants that repel mosquitoes. Planting a mixture of these plants around your home and patio can create mosquito free zones for outdoor entertaining and other activities. There are actually plants on the market that are simply called Mosquito plants. They are advertised as a plant that repels mosquitoes. You can only find them through mail order and internet sales.
One of the most famous mosquito-repelling plants is citronella grass, which is used by manufacturers to make citronella candles. The lovely and aromatic garden herbs rosemary, basil, lavender, lemon balm, and lemongrass are also effective mosquito repellents.
Create a natural repellent spray with essential oils Essential oils such as castor, cedar, celery extract, clove, citronella, geranium, lemon eucalyptus, fennel, lavender, lemon grass, peppermint and rosemary are an effective mosquito repellents when applied externally on your skin and clothing. You should test any oils on a small patch of skin before applying them—some people can be allergic or develop skin irritations.
You can make your own insect repellent sprays by combining either rubbing alcohol, witch hazel or olive oil with any of the listed essential oils in a 10 to 1 (alcohol to oil) ratio.
More mosquitoes repelling tips
Avoid 30 minutes before and after dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are at their most active. If you must be outdoors, where light coloured clothing as mosquitoes are more attracted to dark clothing. This is due to the greater heat signature dark clothing provides. Also wear long sleeved shirts and long pants.
Mosquitoes find their prey partly through carbon dioxide. If you are outside in mosquito-heavy locations, avoid overheating or exercising as much as possible, as these cause you to emit more carbon dioxide.
Mosquitoes seem to be more attracted to people who consume diets high in sugary or processed foods. Eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits may help reduce your attractiveness to mosquitoes.
Eating a diet heavy in onions and garlic can make you unattractive to mosquitoes.
Avoid wearing floral or fruity scents from perfumes, sunscreens, soaps, laundry detergent and similar products.
Some people believe that taking vitamin B-1 tablets make them less attractive to mosquitoes.
If you're outside barbecuing, try tossing sage or rosemary on the coals. Not only does it help repel mosquitoes, but also smells good.
With the rise in the West Nile Virus, avoiding mosquitoes becomes a necessity for anyone who wishes to enjoy the outdoors. Remembering to apply mosquito repellent regularly is important no matter which method you choose. With a little care and prevention, you can enjoy the outdoors without slapping yourself silly.
Canadian Realty News

First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit (HBTC)

The First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit (HBTC) is one of the measures provided by the federal government in 2009 to encourage investment in Canadian housing.
For 2009 and subsequent years, the HBTC is a new non-refundable tax credit, based on an amount of $5,000, for certain home buyers that acquire a qualifying home after January 27, 2009 (i.e., generally means that the closing is after this date).
The HBTC is calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2009) by $5,000. For 2009, the credit was $750. Each year, the credit is recalculated, so it may be higher or lower than previous years.
How do you qualify for the tax credit? You, and anyone you purchase the home with, must be considered a first time home buyer to be eligible for the tax credit. The home must be used as your principal residence, and if you purchase with your spouse, common-law partner, or even a friend, then either one of you can claim the credit (or share it). However, the combined total cannot exceed $750.
If you are a person with a disability or are buying a house for a related person with a disability, you do not have to be a first time home buyer. See the Government of Canada website for further details.
What is a qualifying home? To qualify for the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit, a home must be a housing unit located in Canada, including mobile homes, condominiums and apartments. A share in a co-operative housing corporation that entitles you to possess, and gives you an equity interest in, a housing unit located in Canada also qualifies. However, a share that only provides you with a right to tenancy in the housing unit does not qualify.
Also, you must intend to occupy the home or you must intend that the related person with a disability occupy the home as a principal place of residence no later than one year after it is acquired.
How to Claim the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit? First-time homebuyers purchasing a home may claim the HBTC on their income tax returns. Starting with the 2009 taxation year, line 369 is incorporated into the Schedule 1, Federal Tax to allow you to claim the credit in the year in which you acquired the qualifying home.
The home must be registered in your or your spouse's or common-law partner's name in accordance with the applicable land registration system.
Claimants should ensure that documentation supporting the purchase transaction is available if requested by the Canada Revenue Agency. Claimants are also responsible for making sure that all applicable eligibility conditions are met.
Keep the HBTC in mind when you consider buying a Canadian home. It’s just another great reason to take the final step of real estate home ownership.
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