Millennials vs Housing

In terms of housing, Toronto is in a completely different state then it was decades prior. In the 70s you could be making $9,000 working at the bank and purchase a nice home with good square footage for $15,000. A different time now seems like a different world.

What if the Real Estate Market Drops?

A constant concern on the mind of any property purchaser is: what if the market drops? People are understandably nervous as a dip could mean the loss of an excessive amount of income. This can cause hesitation, we find this fear is what holds people back from diving into real estate. Understandably so. The market has highs and lows, but it consistently goes up while it dips and peaks.

Purchasing is always a more sound use of your finances than renting. If you are renting for no matter how long, the money you’ve put in is doing nothing for you. Sure, you have a place to live, but the money could be better utilized with property that can either gain value and/or you can eventually sell.

Imagine you purchase a home at $500,000 with a 5% down payment while steadily paying down the mortgage. Picture prices going down by 20%, which has never happened in the history of Canada and is exceptionally unlikely to ever come close to occurring. This would put the value of the home at $400,000, that’s a “loss” of $100,000. If you’ve lived in that home for 25 years, that’s substantially less that would’ve been paid in rent. The cost of the mortgage would be around that of the monthly rent. In roughly 20 years you would have the property paid off along with a still valuable property to either live in or sell.

The market will inevitably adjust in and out of your favour. The long-term benefits always outweigh the temporary losses. Rents will always go up over time, even if immigration isn’t steady in your area, birth rates will continue to be. Property values will also always increase over time. As you continue to pay off your mortgage, the principal debt will decrease and your equity will increase. Don’t just see it as buying a property, see it is as the investment it actually is.

It depends on where you’re looking. Different regions have different factors which influence the value of the property. Toronto will have different rates and trends than Houston. Just in Toronto alone, there are so many fluctuating areas and markets, as The Annex and The Beaches are so different. Any big city will have it’s own dissimilar subsections. You absolutely must do your local research, if you don’t do your due diligence you can put yourself at risk. Follow the trends and investigate what is selling and for how much.

There is risk with any type of investment, but depending on your market this could be one of the safest possible expenditures. If the market drops, you’ll still be secure. You just have to be comfortable playing the waiting game. It’s only ever a loss when you sell.

The History of Toronto Architecture

Toronto is such a unique city. The core has so much history and it can be seen in its various styles of buildings. There’s an origin for why every structure is the way it is. As we’ve developed we’ve adopted so many different styles of architecture throughout the decades, and at one point one of our own. This summary provides the history and purpose of why Toronto has no other city brushing close to its unique presentation.

The Settlement of Toronto

In the very early 17th century, French colonists stuck their claim on the land of the Iroquois and other tribes. In 1760, the British took claim to that domain and removed the French. In 1793, is when that land became the town of York, following years of development it became the city of Toronto in 1834.

An unfortunate fact about this city is that we have little in the way of historical structures due to massive fires. The Great Toronto Fire occurred on April 7, 1849 which consumed an extensive portion of the downtown area, including City Hall. The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 destroyed 118 buildings in the span of 8 hours. This tragedy was the biggest disaster in the history of the city, claiming a large portion of the downtown core. As a result, of all of the destruction and it’s eventual turn into a megacity, the majority of Toronto consists of new buildings as we don’t have the opportunity to hang on to the past.

toronto waterfront 1800s

Painting by John Howard, Toronto Archives

Industrial Architecture

In the middle of the 19th century, the increasing railways and steamboat ports brought in an ever-increasing urbanization to a prominently green land from it’s useful harbour. The increasing amount of trade began to develop into a massively increasing manufacturing industry. Along the shoreline we had kept expanding up until the mid 20th century. Our production plants were not limited to: refineries, soap factories, aviation plants and munitions facilities.

Due to the increasing population and the evolving world no longer needing use for much of the factories, the 1970s saw a decrease in their production. Corporations realized they could save money by utilizing overseas workers as it saves them exponentially due to lower pay rates. A massive deindustrialization began in Toronto, the factories were developed into offices, lofts or torn down making way for apartments and condos to develop into the Toronto we know today.

2011617-distillery-main-1918-f1583_it0086.jpg

Image by Toronto Archives

Commercial Architecture

Toronto continued to flourish in large part due to its harbours and factories along with the continuing population, it progressed into the commercial core of Canada. What followed with this development was the major banks creating towering structures that breached the established skyline. This area became known as the financial district. Built to create a competitive edge over other structures, overseeing the smaller buildings within the cityscape. It became the central location for the majority of the business core for the entire country.

The hotels of the city started off as small inns, but after the increase in population and the city’s wealth, they developed into cloud-breaching structures beginning in the early 20th century. The intention was to match the prominence of the skyscrapers that dominated the financial district. This can be seen in the historic Chateauesque Fairmont Royal York and the originally Art Deco Park Plaza Hotel, which is now the Park Hyatt Toronto. As the city became the business capital of the country, Toronto continued to flourish with massive hotels throughout.

The city began with mom-and-pop shops among the plethora of factories. As capitalism continued to rise throughout the city, vast shopping centres began to develop. Starting with the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in 1964, Toronto was in it’s initial phase to becoming the shopping capital of Canada. This structure was conceived through market research to make it as accessible as possible, which resulted in critics generally lambasting it’s mishmash of modernism. In 1977, the Eaton Centre followed suit with it’s red brick matching in line with the factories in nearby. Shopping continued to develop in wide prevalence with Fairview Mall and Sherway Gardens, among many others.

Image result for fairmont toronto

Image of Fairmont Royal York Hotel by fairmont.com

Residential Architecture

When settlements first began in the 1800’s, builders adopted the Georgian style even though it was falling out of favour in both Britain and the United States at that time. Early settlers realized the practicality of having structures known to have strong durability. These were first made of log, then eventually clapboard, brick or stone. This style is known for symmetry, minute ornamentation and a wide structure. In the early 19th century, Victorian architecture began to take over due to its popularity in England and France at that time. Characterized by its asymmetrical shape in its bays and wings, decorative trim and vibrant colours, his style had many different variations within it, including: Second Empire, Stick-Eastlake, Folk Victorian, Queen Anne, Richardsonian Romanesque and Shingle. Nearing the end of the 19th century, Toronto saw its own unique take on this style with bay-and-gable. It’s noteworthy for its tall and narrow style and is often times semi-detached. This was to utilize smaller space with the constantly evolving rate of the population. These homes take influence of the Victorian style, but with tall windows and elongated depth. They were typically seen in The Annex area. This gave the middle-class more options to live in this budding city, while the typical Victorian homes were for the upper-class. The majority of homes utilized red bricks as that was the main product used to develop homes in Toronto. This was due to the type of clay that was utilized. Due to the prevalence of the bricks, it became common for households to adopt well after other construction options decades after other materials were readily available.

As development occurred, there was a strong incline in the growth of suburbs in the beginning of the 1950’s. This was in large part due to the popularization of automobiles. It was then that the Green Belt Legislation was initialized in order to permanently preserve a vast amount of green space in Southern Ontario. In the 60s and 70s, there was a rapid increase in apartments and condominiums due in large part to the baby boom. There was such a vast increase of lower to middle class families. Unfortunately, this resulted in the destruction of a wide amount of Victorian homes in their wake. Gentrification began to rise in parts of the downtown core. As population continued to increase, the buildings took on the “towers in the park” concept from the bustling New York City. This was their traditional cityscape with enough space from the sidewalk, landscaping and other greenery. As more and more people came into the city, it began to deindustrialize setting up increasing opportunities for people to move in. The 80s saw the initialization of the Ontario Condominium Act to regulate the booming market. The condo boom in the 1980s signified the rise of even more buildings, this increase in population continues to this day. As the population kept increasing, we continued to eliminate the industrial core and started developing properties near the financial district. We now have no option but to build up due to the Green Belt Legislation. In the 1990’s, the increasing condo market took inspiration from Southeast Asian models as their population was rapidly increasing at the time as well, they understood how to format the buildings of exploding populations. We mostly have architectsAlliance, a Toronto-based firm, to thank for their continuous significant contributions to the condos of our skyline.

Image result for bay-and-gable

Bay-and-gable homes image by Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District Committee

Institutional Architecture

As Toronto continued its prominence, it was determined that it would be the capital of Ontario. Between 1886 – 1892, the current Ontario Legislative Building was erected after the previous legislative assembly building had been destroyed back in 1813, during the Battle of York. During the time of the building’s inception the Romanesque Revival was becoming increasingly popular. This style is characterized by its big, bold and chunky structure, with rounded archways and elaborate stone carvings similar to that of the Gothic style.

The City Council of Toronto was constantly overcrowded, in order to curb this a larger city hall had been decided. Completed in 1899, what we now call Old City Hall was the largest municipal building at the time. This structure was also made in the Romanesque Revival style. In 1965, they wanted to make a drastically different building that would stand out from the city’s skyline, being the first significant modernist structure. These buildings are known for their sleek and minimalist designs, utilizing glass, concrete and steel. This design was chosen from a council of architects who chose from over 500 contenders, this design was decided upon as it was believed to represent civic government.

Our universities are prominent fixtures within the city, much of our character stems from these expansive campuses. The University of Toronto takes up a significant amount of space near the downtown core. Over the decades it has absorbed so many properties, therefore adopting a mishmash of architectural styles, mostly a blend of modernist, post-modernist and Victorian peppered throughout. York and Ryerson Universities are the other prominent post-secondary institutions in our city. They were both constructed over 60 years ago when Brutalist architecture was at peak popularity. The look is notable for its thick concrete with heavily muted colours and minimal detailing to appear uniform so they can house as many rooms possible. These solid structures still stand among the campuses, but as the universities flourish, new buildings are added with modernist designs breaking out of the traditional mould.

Among the skyline of downtown Toronto, we have the exceptionally unique Ontario College of Art and Design built in 2002. The rectangular black and white structure is decorated with coloured beams descending to the floor. This eccentric piece, known as the ‘’flying tabletop,” utilized for the main building was designed by William Alsop to portray how you can be unique and present your artistry when surrounded by uniformity.

Image result for ocad university

OCAD University image by Bruce Mau Design

The Royal Ontario Museum is a unique display as it is the best example of evolving architecture within the city. The over 100 year old building was conceived as a Romanesque Revival piece. The structure continued to expand as popularity and new wings were built. To not only capture attention but to encapsulate what the popular or unique architecture at the time was, it has elements of Gothic, Art Deco, Neo-Byzantine, Second Empire and Georgian architecture. It stands out more so than ever with its newest addition, a Deconstructivist postmodern wing of prismatic prominence.

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) was established in 1918 under the Beaux-Arts style, French for “fine arts.” This Paris developed style was similar to that of Gothic conception, but utilizing iron and glass. The architects wanted this to appear unique due to the subject matter within the building. The AGO was eventually determined by its owners to look inaccessible to the general public due to its artistic representation, in order to counter that a brick wing was added in the 1990s. This was met exceptionally poorly as locals felt it looked cheap and bland. In 2008, world famous Toronto-born Frank Gehry redesigned the entirety of the gallery to look like an overturned canoe in a postmodern style.

Toronto houses a vast array of churches from all different denominations, the majority of them being of Christian faith. Many still stand although attendance at them is dwindling due to changes of faith or others continuing to move along the Greater Toronto Area region. They originally began in the symmetrical Georgian style moving to the ornate Gothic Revival style that the city is accustomed to. Especially for the Protestant churches. The Catholic churches were also Gothic, but focused on Italianate and Baroque architecture to become more picturesque and give off a more “heavenly” air. As the world became more modern, so did the religious structures, adopting smoother and simpler designs.

We have a plethora of theatres and venues to hold events and concerts. Roy Thomson Hall and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts both take on a modernist approach even though they were made decades apart. Roy Thomson Hall was built with the future in mind, while the Four Seasons was designed to be with the times. Massey Hall was built in 1894, the Victorian structure was honoured as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981. Of our performing arts theatres, the Royal Alexandra Theatre is the oldest. Established in 1907, the beaux-arts style adopted is typical to that of British theatres as popularity was increasing at the time.

Of its number of sporting venues, the Rogers Centre is the most impactful on the cityscape. Built in 1989, originally called the SkyDome, it was conceived as the headquarters for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Argonauts as the bustling city was due a sports team. This is notable as unlike the vast majority of stadiums it can close the ceiling in poor weather in order to continue the event. This like many other stadiums, utilizes a Brutalist approach to be uniform and allow a strong amount of space.

The sky-piercing CN Tower was erected in 1976 and is the 9th largest free-standing structure on Earth. The skyscraper was conceived to not only to serve as a telecommunications receiver, but also to portray the impressive scale of Canada. A Brutalist design was used so that the concrete would keep the massive structure stable, but so that visitors could enjoy the scope of the entire city with its wide use of tall windows.

Image result for toronto skyline rogers

Image by Shutterstock

The city of Toronto has an eclectic melting pot of architecture throughout. It’s wide use of concrete, but also ornately decorative structures provide a uniqueness that other cities don’t have. From it’s heavy use of Victorian architecture to it’s Brutalist landmarks, Toronto has a wholly unique blend of character.

Written by: Spencer Maxwell

Mortgages get a bad rap. Many people don’t have a strong familiarity with exactly what it is and the potential it can provide. It’s the lessened percentage of the entire payment of the property paid over the course of many years. In Ontario, it’s generally 10–20% initial down payment, followed by a decided percentage paid out over time. The vast majority of people are unable to pay off their property right away as it’s always an exceptionally large sum of money. The amortization period is the time in which you pay off the loan as well as the interest. This is paid off usually between 15–25 years, depending on your funds and comfort level, as interest does accumulate each time you have to pay. The interest is an unattractive aspect of this process, and is why most intend to pay it off as quickly as possible.

People have this impression that having a mortgage is a negative thing. It’s very design is to assist anybody with affording a place to live. It’s a tool of access to make people financially stable in the future.

Let’s say you have all the funds to buy your property completely. It seems logical to have no mortgage and not worry about the accumulating cost of interest. This appears to be a stressful decision, but if you’re looking to develop a portfolio it is a wiser course of action. This is something that you can leverage for future success in real estate.

Unlike other types of investments (like stocks or bonds), it is the only kind that lets you jump in with a fraction of the full payment (leverage). When you have a tenant, they are paying the monthly mortgage payments. This can you provide you with so much leverage in developing your portfolio

Buying property is an investment, if you can afford to pay off the entirety of the home you can definitely utilize those funds to expand your wealth. Let’s say you’re able to outright purchasing the property for $300,000. Instead, you can get three properties with a down payment of $100,000 each. You went from no mortgages to three. This is definitely a time investment, but now you have three eventual sources of income.

Comfort is definitely what people are seeking when they want to eliminate the mortgage. It’s attractive to not have to pay off any interest, but you have options to gain potentially so much more in passive income. It depends on if you’re goal is to have more money in your pocket on a monthly basis or to create wealth long term.

Written by: Spencer Maxwell

What You Need To Know After You Choose Your Home

After you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities of locations in your preferred area, the asking price is within your budget and the property suits all of your needs, it’s time to proceed with the sale. This is initialized with an offer to the seller. It starts with formatting the The Agreement of Purchase and Sale, which sets out the terms and conditions between the buyer and seller. It begins with you presenting the offer, following with them hopefully accepting it (after the conditions, if any, have been met), the offer then becomes legally binding. Both the buyer and the seller must hold up their end of the agreement and finalize the purchase. Both parties must understand what’s in the offer before they sign to avoid any legal complications. If you so choose, you can add special conditions in the offer. Every sale is unique, so it’s critical you do your due diligence and ensure that every aspect is covered.

The standard form has the full legal names of the buyer, seller and the agent involved in the transaction. The legal description of the property along with the municipal address, the lawyer will ensure that everything is specific and accurate. The purchase price must be there, including the deposit. When you submit an offer, you are generally expected to submit a deposit to demonstrate serious intent to buy the property. This is usually in the form of a certified cheque payable to the listing broker in trust. When the agreement is finalized, the amount is credited towards the purchase price.

There are generally clauses specific to the agreement of the purchase. As every offer is unique, they will have different conditions which protect the buyer or seller. If you are arranging a mortgage to buy the property, it’s customary to insert a condition making the offer conditional upon financing for a specified period of time. In the event that you are unable to arrange adequate financing within the allotted time period, the offer becomes null and void, the deposit is then returned to you, and neither party is under any further obligation to proceed.

As the buyer, you have the ability to add additional clauses to the agreement. This can be anything from adding new drapery to painting the walls. Be aware that if a seller receives two offers, one with conditions and one without, they will most likely be more inclined to accept the unconditional (firm) offer. Consult your lawyer concerning the use and wording of conditional clauses.

The irrevocable date and time is the period at which the other party must respond to your offer. The offer will become null and void if no agreement is made. This is typically done under 72 hours. The closing date (or completion date) is when the parties complete the transaction. At this point all of the paperwork is filed, all funds paid out and the buyer receives the title to the property. The closing date is typically 30 – 60 days from the date of the agreement, but it can be longer for new sales.

There is a wide array of items included within the purchase price of the property. Fixtures are permanent improvements that remain with the property as part of the sale. Chattels are moveable pieces that are not physically attached. The distinction is not always clear. If the chandelier in the dining room is a family heirloom the seller will most likely want to keep that. Since it could be defined as a fixture, it should be listed as an exception in the offer. From a legal standpoint, it’s a fixture and not mentioned in the offer, it is considered part of the sale. In order to avoid confusion, any items you are unsure about should be listed in the offer. These items are not limited to: area rugs, light fixtures, curtains, dishwasher, custom furniture, water heater, storage shed and satellite dish.

I would strongly advise having your lawyer review the offer before you submit to the seller. After this agreement, you are legally liable for the conditions as stated in the agreement. If timing is critical, you can insert a clause making the agreement conditional upon your lawyer reviewing the offer, which is usually within a couple of days. Be aware that it’s only the lawyers job to review the paperwork and ensure that you are protected. It’s not their job to comment on the value of the property.

After the offer is signed, a meeting is then arranged with the seller and the listing agent to negotiate the terms. The seller can accept, reject or make a counter-offer, but only during the irrevocable period (before the deadline). If the offer is rejected, it may be because your initial offer was too low or the terms were not acceptable to the seller. At this point, you may want to raise your price and try again. In the event the seller makes a counter-offer, this is a good sign as it indicates that they are interested in the potential to close the deal with you. You have the ability to go back and forth to negotiate the price and terms until you are both satisfied. Be aware of what the seller is looking for to streamline this process, you don’t have to match this but you may have to compromise. Unless you absolutely require a condition that the seller is unhappy with, don’t let it sour and potentially ruin the transaction. You may have to decide on what’s more valuable to you: the conditions or the price of the property. Always remember what you’re trying to accomplish, ideally both parties getting a fair deal.

Written by: Spencer Maxwell

Why The Greater Toronto Area Is A Safe Place To Invest

We at REC are a little biased. Some of us are born and raised in this city, while many of us are from far and wide. We all agree that the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is one of our favourite places to invest from a real estate perspective. There are so many places across the globe that are up and coming or just a safe bet, but not to the caliber here. Toronto is ever expanding and continues to show potential, even in the decades to come.