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  • Green Developments Over the Previous Few Years

    Green or environmental are regular spelled key words. Policies and marketing are are flooded with points of sustainability and renewable resources. So let's have a look at a few developments of the last decade at what has got politicians, scientists and the western world so fired up.

    Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs

    Incandescent lamps are an item of the past in many cases and are incredibly energy inefficient compared to the new compact fluorescent light bulbs. While giving the same amount of light, they use less power and have longer rated life. On the other point of view, just like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs also use mercury which makes their disposal more difficult.

    In spite of this inconvenience, they're still much more considerate both towards our environment and our wallets though their price is normally a bit higher then the price of standard light bulbs, they can save much more in the long run.

    Extreme Weather

    Extreme weather can include such things as especially powerful storms; heat waves or droughts that are longer or hotter than normal, for example, they are the events that see the the extreme side of nature. In the last decade, several very rare and striking natural catastrophes were observed all around the world, beginning with an unexpected, enormous heat wave in Europe in 2003, continuing with the destructive hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005 and massive flooding all around the world in 2006, ending with a string of earthquakes across Haiti in 2008. There is arguments amongst climatologists whether the human race is having a damaging effect on our planet, though it has been agreed that catastrophes like this are only the start and there is more to come.

    Renewable Energy

    Renewable energy is a type of energy that comes from natural resources - sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished.

    Since 2000, the use of renewable energy sources has grown considerably and hopefully, this trend will continue in the future, for it is a key part of sustainable development. We can no longer rely on the supplies we have at the moment to make electricity and need to look in more directions to create it To cut emissions and discover long term answers to the supply, renewable energy is an important part of our future.

    Mexican Gulf Oil Tragedy

    This incident is one of the most recent natural catastrophes that caught world's attention. A large explosion and subsequent fire hit the Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling unit on the 20th April 2010, the unit is in the region of 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. To begin with the reports indicated that the oil leakage was negligible, how wrong those reports actually were. Only six or seven weeks later those reports were announcing there were up to 19,000 barrels a day being lost and that was only the start of it.

    Oil related fiascos are extremely common, yet they seem to keep appearing in a quite repetitive manner. When is enough, enough, when do we admit that we may not be capable of drilling underwater for oil without damaging the world around us?

    Going green is a matter of personal decision - everybody can decide for own way. I am trying to be green Toronto condos agent. Can you imagine any way for you?

  • Real Estate FAQ: The very last part

    I'm anxious about picking an unsuitable contractor, can you recommend any to me please?

    Definitely! Worry not, every real estate agent will provide you with names for most types of contractors. Knowing how hard it is to find a reputable contractor many realtors have put together a list of those professionals who we know will do a great job and who can be trusted. All the contractors & tradespeople have usually completed work for the realtor, his/her friends, family members and/or clients, and are definitely highly recommended.

    The basement isn't finished, does this mean I am not going to be able to rent it out? Is there anything stopping me, such as regional or Canadian laws forbidding me from doing this?

    You would want to check out the law in detail as there are quite a few that govern the retrofit status of basements in Toronto. Lots of these laws are in relation to fire codes and protecting possible tenants and their safety. To have this status a basement will need to be finished, as a result an unfinished basement would not qualify. You are unlikely to be the only family in Toronto who is in this situation as there are many basements that do not come up to standard, even the rented ones. While I know this is against the law, I am not sure who watches over and enforces the rules. It may affect you rproperty insurance policy as well if there was ever a problem

    What can you do if you are sure you made a mistake after you invested in a condominium? Is there any sort of time scale I should allow before putting the condominium back on the market?One thing I did manage to find out is the lenders rules they do not have a problem.

    It's not often a profitable financial decision to sell your condominium soon after buying it.First off the best advice is not to sell your condo too fast after you paid for it. We appreciate that you are not happy with your new condo, but it really isn't a decent idea to sell it so soon after paying for it. As a usual rule, you should wait at least 3 years before putting it up for sale, 3 years will give you some time for equity to build up. You do not have to use separate realtors, the same agent can support you with both selling and purchasing a home. If you got your new construction directly from the developer, you can hire a realtor to help you sell it.

    Do they have right to request a new management with a petition and a legal adviser representing them?

    First off you must be owners and not tenants, but if the contract of the condominium management are not being met, then of course you have the right to petition for their removal. Speak to the board of directors of the condominium corporation. The condominium corporation's board of directors will need to see the petition and be made aware of your concerns with the current management.If the management company is not living up to their part in the contract, then the condominium corporation may be able to terminate the contract due to a breach in a contract. This is only general guidance, if you want more detailed legal advice then you need to consult with a legal adviser.

    Questions replied by Toronto houses for sale realtor.

  • A Home in Toronto? - Part 3 of FAQ

    If I change my mind about some details after I have signed an agreement of purchase & sale, can I still modify anything?

    That depends! If the firm (no conditions) offer has been accepted by the seller, and is not a special circumstance (as in with new condominium construction for example, where you may be given a cooling-off period) you can try to arrange changes with the sellers. When no exceptions have been incorporated into the document, then the law is on the side of the seller and they do not have to agree to the changes. Eventually both of your lawyers may have to get involved. Ultimately your down payment, legal costs and the like are at stake if both parties cannot agree.

    Could you advise me of the selling price of a property with a finished basement in contrast to one that doesn't have a finished basement at Bloor West Village?

    This is a interesting question, there are quite a few different scenarios that need to be taken into account. There are lots of qualities of a finished basement, from a professional adaptation with all the facilities of an independent unit to a low ceiling, damp and dark room. Obviously any finished basement is going to be of benefit to a prospective buyer, this village is a family neighbourhood and having that extra space is certainly a plus point. Without seeing the basement there is no absolute answer as the quality, size and finish of the room can vary greatly.

    Is exclusive parking another name for owned parking and can you explain is rental parking?

    You can pay for a parking space along with or completely separately from your condominium unit or even a property purchase, this is classed as owned parking. Subsequently once you own it, then with the majority of purchases, it is yours to do with what you want. Exclusive parking is considerably different, as the space is only yours while you own the condo and is usually assigned to you on purchase. Rental parking is sometimes available for condos that don't come with owned or exclusive parking - check this out with the property manager! Older lofts in Toronto are known for potential problems with parking lots

    I have about 80 000 in money, is there anything available in the Toronto area?

    A mortgage expert will be able to help you work out what you can afford if you are using the amount as a down payment on a home. If you do not know any mortgage advisors, feel free to call us and we will be happy to suggest some brokers to you.

  • Renitng a Condo: FAQ

    • I've bought a property with tenants already living in the basement of it, can I evict them?

    Unfortunately for you, it is not as clear as all that and your tenants are covered by the Tenant Protection Act, which give them rights on proper notice to leave. If they do not wish to move out, they do not have to, though a landlord facing this problem should without question seek legal advice. There are exceptions to this: If you own the property and your immediate family is going to move into the tenanted space, then once the correct period of notice has expired, the tenant must leave.

    • Am I able to rent out my completed basement?

    That is contingent on certain rules! Every rented space, before it is advertised, must conform with a variety of building regulations, therefore find out whether your basement complies with the Ontario Building Code, local Zoning By-laws, the Ontario Fire Code to name a few. That will give you the real scoop on what improvements could need to be done (such as building another exit) to bring your finished basement into compliance as a secondary unit.

    • I have been given a registration date and an occupancy date, but I am confused about what they stand for

    With newly constructed condos, there is an occupancy date at which time you will be charged occupancy fees, whether you have moved into the unit yet or not. There comes a point when the unit is livable even if you haven't moved in and regardless of whether those finishes you requested are complete. The registration date applies to the date the whole building is completely registered and closed and the condo is yours legally to do with as you please.

    • Please explain what is a reserve fund?

    Each condo building, by law has to set aside a lump sum on cash to be spent on shared areas of the building when they need repairing or replacing. It is built up through the payment of monthly maintenance levies and can be depleted when big repairs are needed.

    • When a thing breaks inside my flat, can I ask the condo corporation to mend it for me?

    Your apartment is considered to be your effects - one of the benefits of ownership! Any repairs within the unit are your responsibility. Repairs outside the condo and regular maintenance like cleaning of hallways etc. are covered in your monthly maintenance costs.

    Questions answered by Julie and her team, foremost Toronto Lofts real estate agents

    picture by explorerTom
    picture by explorerTom

  • Four most usual real estate questions

    Could you tell me what is a building permit, and when do I have to apply to be given a building permit?

    A building permit is formal consent from the City of Toronto to begin construction, demolition, addition or renovation on your house. Toronto Building staff must go over your plans to make sure that they conform with the Ontario Building Code, local Zoning By-laws, and other applicable regulations. Here's when you require the permit: Install or modify heating and plumbing, building or modifying your existing house, building additions to your property, changing the use, changing the size of windows or doors and even installing a second suite.

    My insurance organization is asking a multitude of questions about the property I bought, can my realtor help?

    Definitely, insurance companies will ask you such questions as the square footage of your new house, updates to major mechanical systems, type of construction materials used plus many more. The best people to answer these questions are the sellers, we can contact their listing agent on your behalf if you would like us to. One thing to think about: insurance companies always ask for exact information (ie year roof was re-shingled) yet they too realize it may not be possible to get exact information, so approximate values usually suffice.

    I am thinking about purchasing a property, but not sure whether I should buy a house or a condo?

    We work mainly with Toronto houses for sale but I will tell you it all depends on your investment objectives and plans of action. When looking at average Toronto rental prices for a decent apartment it pays for itself, unfortunately the value doesn't go up much, but part of a house can be rented out while you are still living in it. One of the services we offer to our clients is specific advice based on your own lifestyle.

    The units in the condo building look the same, so why is there a price variation?

    By installing an upgraded kitchen or bathroom, asking for a parking space, how the apartment is finished all add to and are reflected in the price. Also, the higher the floor in the building, the bigger the price (ie penthouse suites can sell for a lot more than ground floor suites). The asking price is the starting point for any property sale, so you may find that this price is not what the condo actually sells for.

  • MLS Revolution: Realtors oppose

    Realtors in Canada are not in favour of the rules governing the housing market being removed or simplified The survey by Royal LePage Real Estate Services saw the general consensus of those who took part, against these modifications proposed by MLS.

    There are many separate types of listings within MLS and the concern surrounds which of those listings should only be dealt with by accredited specialists. The overall belief amongst agents is that consumer service and safeguards set up to protect a customer, are going to decline if there is an influx of amateur service providers. Deregulation will open the market to more competition, but the majority of realtors say the market is already very competitive with very few only seeing it as only competitive and even less seeing it as not competitive.

    The survey also tried to see in what way real estate specialists support buyers and sellers in completing their transactions. When a consumer is looking to buy or sell a house, the majority of specialists gave the following as their main considerations: Providing a full brokerage service, avoiding needless delays and taking care the consumer's financial welfare. Over 99% of those agents polled, declared that they had helped their clients avoid the financial issues with buying and selling a property. 51.4% stated they did so very 'often' and 37.1% 'often'. Marketing properties is an area were realtors were very out there. Toronto MLS, open home, local advertising and own websites were often used by more than three quarters of of those surveyed.

    At the end, the question about experience and ongoing education revealed that agents have been members of Royal LePage for 15.5 years on average and almost 90% of them participate on formal conferences, seminars or courses one to four times a year.

    The Royal LePage Real Estate Advisors Survey was organized online in April 2010 and can be seen on the LePage website.

  • Toronto Needs to Put the Effort into Being Greener

    For the first time, Mercer consulting printed its annual Quality of Living city ranking, with a new brand new chart in it, called Eco-City Ranking. The new chart doesn't show Toronto in a good light unlike the rest of the report that sees the Toronto quality of living being 16th in the whole world.

    The chart covers areas such as class of sewage systems, air pollution and water availability when picking which cities come out top. So to be considered as eco friendly then the city would have to have restricted pollution and maximize it's renewable materials. Industrial cities such as Pittsburgh and Düsseldorf beat Toronto, which only ranked 39, not good news. Even when you only compare the North American cities, Toronto didn't do well, coming in at number 11. In joint 3rd place came Ottawa and Helsinki, whilst Honolulu came in second, but the award for the best eco-friendly city is given to Calgary. Montreal and Vancouver came in side by side in 13th position.

    However in the light of our 16th place in overall ranking the Eco-City ranking may seem of minor importance, we have to be mindful of the gap. When you look at quality of living, how the city deals with the environment is going to have an effect of those that settle there, which is pointed out by a senior researcher at Mercer.

    Our dragging our heels in environmental quality of life may have control on our overall quality of life, faster than many of us would expect.

    Julie Kinnear has been neighbourhood eco enthusiast and a Toronto MLS realtor

  • Green Toronto Prize Goes to the Best Inventors in the GTA

    The competition for the green innovation award has reached its conclusion and reports three stars. Mayor David Miller, Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone and CityNews Meteorologist Michael Kuss declared the finest green innovators on April 23 as part of the Green Living Show at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place. The Green Toronto Award was given to each of the prize winners along with a share of the $50,000 prize winnings.

    Still, it was not the prize to drive the young scientist and innovators, but effort to help our environment. Three winners may have been revealed but the plans for green solutions was at a very high standard. Since the idea was to show real resolutions, most of the projects were affordable and easily applicable, so one day you may see them applied also in your neighbourhood, or in your own property.

    Here are the top three winners:

    * Olivier Trescases, PhD and Chris Lea, with Green Gym: An exercise gym that is espressly built to take energy and send it to the grid.

    * Sarah Lazarovic and her idea GreenHouseTO; Not just for architects but for ordinary people comes a web and mobile renovation application that is for Toronto buildings.

    * Robert Kori Golding, for his idea My Green City, a cross-platform application for the iPhone and Facebook. Construct a virtual town on these games and claim reward points to use on your town by helping the environment.

    So the champion is GREEN!

    Community Projects Award, Energy Conservation Award, Environmental Awareness Award and 6 more presentations, were handed out: as well as these prizes. Charities also benefited, as all finalists took away a prize of $5,000 each to share with them.

    Article published by Julie Kinnear, Toronto Royal LePage

  • Appraisals repress green housing

    Green real estate projects are mushrooming, but not as fast as developers would like them to. While environmentally friendly technologies are rapidly rising, there is one aspect which still has not fully kept pace with the emergence of green housing on the housing market the issue of appraisals. Take a house that would usually cost half a million dollars to construct. In addition, you choose to invest into high-quality insulation, solar panels, and ask your architect to design the house to make use of sunshine to its fullest potential. This will cost you some hefty money, so let's say the full costing goes up to $600,000.

    Still, your bank's appraiser sees it another way. It doesn't do a lot of good to solely add value based on price, but the question is, How much will the market pay on resale?' says David Snook, an appraiser and member of the real property committee on education for the American Society of Appraisers.

    Let us continue with our hypothetical example. Whilst the build cost an extra $100,000 the bank or mortgage company will only recognize the price of the property has increased by $50,000 With a 20% down payment, you will have to have $160,000 in place of of $110,000. Instead of having $27,500 to pay you would have $77,500, if you were trying for a high-ratio mortgage, as these demand a 5% down payment. That is a large contrast especially if you are on a budget and every cent matters. So with such a massive down payment you have to assess your priorities and these could be forgetting about going green, or making do with cheaper and conceivably inferior technology.

    However, as a green MLS professional I understand green homes do make a difference whatever the price increase. If you look at the Green Work Realty statement, you will see why green houses are better financially, with their increased resale value of more than 8% and the fact they sell 22% faster. Although green real estate technology is getting better, if you are unlucky enough to get your home valued by an appraiser who has limited knowledge in this field, then your home will be undervalued.

    While you can show the appraiser the pricing, until they have the knowledge then there is not a lot you can do about it. Although there is no standardization for environmental and energy performance at this time, I believe that they will soon be on their way. Green housing is not only about the environment, it's also about cost. When looking at buying a vehicle, one of the first things you find out is its fuel consumption, how many miles to the gallon does it do. Therefore it is only common progression when using the same analogy when buying a house.

  • A Sales Rep is Put in Jail in the GTA Area for Having Weed Businesses

    As with all careers, sometimes you find that this is not for you and start looking for another career. In many of the properties he rented, Phu Nhi Trac decided to do just this, and started an additional career. Trac decided he was going to turn his 'gardening' job into the most substantial illegal marijuana crop in this country.

    With entry refused to her own properties, a landlady took matters into her own hands and turned up at the rented home and blew the whistle on Trac's illegal farms. It was entirely empty, except of a bunch of hoses leading to the basement, which was turned into a weed jungle. When the owner was interviewed, naturally she was very distressed. No wonder she was upset.

    Police finally discovered a chain of 54 crops across GTA and grabbed 27,550 plants worth about $30 millions. Between 2000 and 2002, Mr Trac and others in his group, of which he headed, using imitation identification cheated over 50 real estate owners. Mr Trac was no amateur at this illegal enterprise, he knew all about the growing cycle, he even studied the market prices and searched for outlets to sell the crops.

    Having taken away his real estate license last year, his jail sentence was handed down and now Mr Trac will have at least 5 years in jail; he was sentenced to 14 years with some terms to be served together. The former realtor also has a hefty fine of in excess of $1 million.

    Eric Chan, ex-president of Living Realty, said Trac "never had any worry with his honesty and integrity and had won a major award for top producer of the branch office in the industrial commercial investment sector?.

    Choosing a realtor to manage your home is not a decision that should be taken easily, as this case goes to show. Whilst probably every Toronto Realtor does have hobbies, I can promise you, gardening is not high up on the list.

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