The Different Types of Investment Opportunities

A question we get asked frequently is: where do I invest my money? There are so many different types of real estate to choose from. You can pick a number of methods based off your comfort level and how much your willing to invest.

A pre-construction condo investment is a condominium which has yet to be fully built. It’s commonly done because the down payment is extended for a 2 to 2 and a half year period. The down payment structure is extended, which is why it’s such a popular option. There is the 10 day due diligence period, after which your money is nonrefundable.There is generally a big appreciation in value for future return. It may be undesirable for some as you are locked into a contract for years. You are buying from a floor plan so you can’t get the strongest feel of the space, you’re essentially buying it from paper. The typical cost of entry is approximately $100,000 for Toronto.

An income property investment is the second most popular type of investment. It can be a home that’s already on the market for resale, also can be a rented room inside of a home (ie basement apartment). This is one of the few options that provides income right away, but generally doesn’t have the highest payout. The mortgage is being paid right when you close. There’s typically a 20% down payment. The market is increasing 6–6.5% in passive appreciation, which means the value is appreciating while you own it. Your tenants are paying you and essentially your mortgage. Neutral cash flow is not uncommon, and not necessarily negative. Forced appreciation is your smartest option for this type of investment. This means you’re adding value to the home by adding little to big things, such as a basement apartment, renovating or adding new features. Managing a tenant does take time and effort, you have to ensure that they are satisfied with their living situation. So the more tenants you have, the more work you must put in, but also the more income you will receive. If you get approximately 15 or more tenants, you will need a property manager. It is an active investment, you have to work on it constantly and budget for maintenance. The typical cost of entry in Toronto is $130,000.

Student housing is very popular and essentially recession proof as people will always be going to school. It’s a passive or active investment depending on property management arrangements. Its typically located in AAA locations as major cities have large colleges and universities. There is an ongoing demand for this type of property. Always a big pool of prospective tenants, so the search is never a challenge. Always look up supply and demand of your particular area, you want to see if and where buildings are coming up. This investment generally gives you the highest positive cash flow of any of the asset classes. You as the owner definitely want to see the credit history from the student or parent. Luckily, there is a very low eviction rate. In major cities, students are generally staying for the whole year rather than just the school year now. But it is possible that you will have an empty property for 3–4 months. High tenant turn over is an issue. The maintenance schedule and budget is higher due to their more likely rowdy nature. The typical cost of entry in Toronto is typically $80,000.

Joint venture is when you partner up with investors together to obtain property while leveraging everyone’s ability for financing, management and repairs as a team. This is the best way to mitigate risk as you have a number of partners to fall back on if an issue does arise. Venturing into this method allows you to invest in more properties and also future larger projects. The biggest issue are that everyone’s goals need to match up, so there is obviously less control for all parties. The typical cost of entry in Toronto is $50,000.

Lease to own is one of the most common investments even though interest has dipped in the past few years. The investor essentially acts as lender with predetermined terms, tenant pays rent and eventually purchases the remaining amount in approximately 3- 4 years. It’s a very passive investment. The selling of the property is pre-determined, you know it will eventually sell once you have a tenant. It’s good strategy for young families or first time buyers. A negative aspect is that the money is typically tied up for the entire term until the sale. Getting qualified tenants is also a challenge and can be a long process as they would need to have approximately $15,000 and as well as pay approximately 20% off the monthly rent.

The final way to invest your money in real estate is equity deals. It’s essentially helping land developers raise capital. Most equity deals are eligible from an Retirement Savings Plan and Registered Retirement Income Fund perspective. Depending on who you are investing with you can sometimes choose your terms of the lending. This is another passive investment. Your capital is tied up for about a 4–6 year term. You may or may not have monthly or annual dividends with is type of investment. The typical cost of entry in Toronto is $30,000.

Written by: Spencer Maxwell

Yes, You Can Sell Your Own Home

Selling your own home can be such an intimidating process. It seems so daunting with all of the costs and the seemingly overly complicated steps. This is something that you can do yourself. Be aware that this process can’t solely be done on your own as you do need the assistance of a real estate lawyer, and we suggest a mortgage advisor. You just need the due diligence and the proper research to proceed with the transaction. Approximately, less than 2% of homes are sold privately in Canada, so this definitely is a possibility. 

The first hurdle you need to get over are your emotions. It’s understandable to have such deep attachment after years of love and effort. It’s difficult not to want to cling to something you’ve filled with memories, but this is new to the potential purchasers. Your feelings have nothing to do with the price, terms or conditions. When it’s on the market, you are not selling your home, you’re selling a house. It’s important that you understand that distinction to generate a successful sale. A potential buyer has no interest in buying your home, they want a property they can make their own. You need to look at it through a buyer’s eyes so you can position it and repackage it in a way that appeals to the average consumer.

Pricing

It’s an absolute necessity to not just know the market, but the market for your specific neighbourhood. Great market research produces great results. This is the best way to overwhelm the competition and compel people to buy what you’re selling. It’s best to utilize the assets of your home, make it stand out among the rest. If your house is the only one in the area, then you can sell for more than if there is a dozen with similar features. Your house may be different than the others, but if everyone is looking to sell, prices will generally drop. No matter what the market is, the laws of supply and demand apply to any product. It’s up to you to discover what is selling in your area and for how much. Be aware that different areas sell for different prices, as location is obviously a huge factor in real estate. 

You must understand the time frame in which to sell your home. How many days, weeks or months do you have? This will help you choose the right listing price. Sellers can lose thousands or have their house sit unsold for months if they fail to understand the market conditions and timing required to govern a suitable sale. A big factor in determining the price is how many days you are able to put it on the market. If you can have it up for 90 days you will have the opportunity to negotiate better.

You can utilize the Land Registry Office to get an overview of the property of the area, but this does come with fees. This will tell you the necessary information of what has sold in your area, how long it was on the market for and the price it went for. You’ll need a complete list of homes that have sold recently that are comparable in location, size and layout to best understand how to price the home.

Marketing

Your property can be priced correctly, but if it doesn’t look right it’s not going to sell. What do you always notice about model homes? All colours and furniture is kept at a more muted tone, with a lot of open space so others can envision themselves living in that space. Home buyers purchase what they see, like and can afford in that order. Even if it’s priced right and you’re advertising was appealing, your property won’t sell if they don’t like what they see or feel. 

As a home seller, the biggest merchandising mistake you can make is assuming that potential buyers will take your home as is or will like the things you’ve done to alter it to your particular tastes. Over-personalizing your home is a common and costly mistake. The harder it is for the potential buyer to envision themselves in the property, the harder it will be to sell. It’s all about giving people the potential to imprint on your home. 

Another common error is the failure to recognize the weaknesses of your home. It’s difficult to be objective when it comes to something that you put so much energy and affection towards. In order to maximize profits, you need to look at the property from an impartial eye. Train yourself or hire someone to go through your home to look for the things you cannot or refuse to see. You must take an active role in decreasing the negatives and accentuating the positives. This may require a professional cleaner, a painter to touch up the walls or even a stager. These expenses may seem large upfront, but create the potential to have a higher selling price. 

Staging is vital in your marketing strategy, this is how you present your home. Utilizing soft colours, smells, lights and sounds are the best methods to make your home as attractive as possible. When you decide to put your home on sale, it’s time to decorate it as you would a model home. Eliminate all visual impact of your life there, bring out the basic features, emphasizing the appeal that made you want to buy it in the first place. Think back on the features that made you want to purchase in the first place.

Most people find and buy their homes through real estate agents. They benefit from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) where they can see any house that is on the market or has been sold since its creation. This is partly why 98% of all homes are purchased through real estate brokerages. You can utilize the Land Registry Office instead, which provides the data you need on pricing. They have the expertise, but you are able to get all the necessary tools.

A for-sale sign is the second most common way that buyers find a home. The combination of an attractive sign with an immaculate front yard, nicely trimmed shrubbery and finely decorated landscaping lets people know that this is a home worth buying. Hanging flyers or having an ad in the newspaper are great ways to build awareness. Place a weather-proof box filled with brochures and a number of directional signs letting people know there is something worth getting. Find the most high-traffic areas and guide interested parties to your home. 

The third most common way buyers find homes is through online advertising. You want to ensure that your ad is located on a high traffic site, it might be beneficial to put some money into it to receive more traction. Without utilizing a real estate agent, it’s fair to say that it will cost money and definitely a fair amount of time. You have to weigh how much this will cost you and what your time is worth. Don’t write another generic ad that won’t register with people. Unless you’re a talented photographer with a good camera, get professional pictures to demonstrate that this is a serious sale. Make the unique features of your home apparent. Entice people with an extra-large master bathroom or an exquisite family room in the advertisement. Make it exciting. “Barbecue and relax while others work. Beautiful, four-bedroom ranch style home with brand new deck and free Jacuzzi.” “Beautiful three-bedroom townhouse with finished basement all ready to rent out. Great opportunity for first-time home buyer.” It all comes down to being creative and thinking what would make you want to buy the property. There are so many features in your home and so many ways you can spin it to appeal to the general consumer. Utilize all websites that traffic this type of information, including: Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and forsalebyowner.ca. It’s all about using all the avenues you can to get the word out. The better your exposure, the better the results. 

Negotiating

When qualifying buyers you must be confident while discovering their requirements, but also avoid being intrusive or overbearing. REC advises you have a separate phone line as you may not be comfortable having your personal number for all interested parties to see. Have a landing page so you can keep track of prospective buyers. When you start receiving requests for showings, schedule them at certain times and certain days, this way it gives the appearance of it being more desirable to purchaser. The more traffic you get at these times, the greater sense of urgency you provide, which can result in a quicker sale and/or more offers. 

For security purposes, we suggest you ask for a copy of the buyer’s license as well as mortgage pre-approval. This is to let you know that they are qualified to be searching in the price range of your home, but also that they are serious buyers. 

When showing, step out for about 15 – 20 minutes to let people relax within the home without any undue pressure. The next day it would be wise to follow up with a phone call, asking: Are you interested in purchasing the home? Do not ask them to give you an offer as this indicates you priced it incorrectly. If they say yes, move onto the next step of authorizing an agreement of purchase and sale. If they said no, ask for feedback. How did the home show? How well do you think it’s priced? Are there any comments you can give that might be helpful?

As soon as you receive an offer from an interested buyer, thoroughly review the documents. It’s best to work with a real estate lawyer before putting your home on the market, as they charge a one-time fee. This way you have the lawyer on call to review the documents before you sign anything. It’s not their job to comment on whether the price and terms are fair, that research is all on you. 

The majority of buyers will have made the agreement conditional on doing a home inspection. If it’s a condo, they would make it conditional on reviewing a condo status report. As a seller, if you did not do a pre-listing inspection, expect the buyer to have a home inspection. The sole purpose of this is to find the deficiencies within the home, this takes roughly 3 hours. If there are any substantial problems, expect the buyer to renegotiate the terms of the agreement. 

If you and the buyer don’t come to an agreement for whatever reason during the 10 day due-diligence period, you both have the option to cancel the arrangement and return their deposit. The buyer can also use the financing condition to walk away from the deal. The lender of the mortgage will request to do an appraisal of the home to confirm the address and the state of the home. Should this impact the amount or the terms of the mortgage offered to the buyer, they can choose to rescind their offer and you would again be obligated to return the deposit. For a condo, if after reviewing a status report, the buyer, the agent or their lawyer feel it is not satisfactory they can walk away from the deal as well; within the conditional period stated in the agreement. Our advice, if you are presented with an offer which has one or all of the above conditions, counter offer with tightening the time allotted to complete the tasks. The majority of buyers would have tried to negotiate in 5 business days, but we advise minimizing this, therefore lessening the time your home is potentially off the market. Keep in mind that the market for which you are selling in will determine how much power you have in the negotiations. 

Once the conditions are satisfactory to you and the buyer, they will send you a waiver or a notice of fulfillment and your home is now sold. The buyer generally requests in the offer to see the home 2 times in order to take measurements, also to see that the property is clean and vacant.

Team 

A day before closing, you will meet with your lawyer to sign off on the sale. After receiving the funds from the buyer on or just before the closing date, the lawyer will pay off any outstanding mortgage payments, liens and any realtor fees associated with the transaction. Lastly, you will be given a cheque for the remainder. 

We strongly advise enlisting the aid of a mortgage advisor. When selling, you can offer the purchaser discounted financing, special terms or conditions. This is a strong way to entice purchasers and gives you the advantage of potentially having more interested parties. This is something that works very well for us, and something that realtors don’t do. 

 

If you take all of these factors into account, along with researching the necessary information and actively pursuing your goals, you’ll be well on your way to selling your home. If you price it properly, market it well, negotiate smoothly and build a solid team, you have nothing to worry about. Assess how you would do this, then proceed with the transaction. You shouldn’t do this process entirely by yourself, but you can sell the property itself on your own merits.

Written by: Spencer Maxwell

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

The Biggest Mistakes Landlords Make

I recently sat down with the charming Harry Fine, a strongly established Toronto paralegal and ex-owner of the Bowlerama franchise. He was kind of enough to share his years of wisdom as a well-versed ex-adjudicator on the Landlord Tenant Board. He presented a plethora of valuable information about what landlords should avoid and how creating a strong rapport between the owner and the tenant is such an important thing. We specifically went in-depth about the regulations for Ontario. These laws most likely differ from those of other provinces and states. Harry emphasized that when it comes to landlords: “You’re not in a position of power without knowledge.”

One thing that really stuck with me, is his mention of landlords being the only profession where the customers generally know the law more than the owners. Landlords, new and old, need to understand all the regulations if they want to remain safe. The residents will almost always ensure they are legally protected. A landlord should know the laws for rent increase, rent control, any issues with the human rights code, legal/illegal clauses within the agreement and how to be ready for tenancy.

Here’s a list of the common mistakes landlords make:

  1. Your relationship with your tenant is very important. It will definitely ease any issues if you don’t sour the relationship through toxic encounters or attempting to alter the agreement in a way that puts them at odds. Being fair to your client is always the best course of action. Not even just from a morality or ethical position, but from a legal perspective to keep you safe.
  2. Issues of payment from the tenant aren’t uncommon. How you approach this is very important. Don’t just leave a notice for them, have a conversation. Be personable. Let them know that you don’t want to evict them. They need to know that you’re running a business and you’re in a tough spot if you don’t get paid. Give them fair warning that you have no choice to go to the tenant board. Ensure that you supply them the notice on the first of the month to give them the most time possible. Inform them that you will need to file an N4, which states that there tenancy will end early due to lack of payment. Provide them an N8 for persistent failure to compensate, which states they need to vacate the property after the lease agreement ends. If you need to do an eviction, keep your hands clean.
  3. You need to be aware that the Landlord and Tenant Board in Ontario is backed up. It may be in other regions across North America as well. The landlords are in a bad spot as it takes months to have your claim addressed. Your best course of action is to know all the required regulations to streamline your security as best you can.
  4. Be careful with rent increases. Each province and state has their own specific laws, educate yourself on what is specific to your region. Do a proper lease right from day one to avoid any issues that could arise. If you don’t provide proper notice for rent increase of the first year, this would invalidate your lawful rent throughout the entire tenancy in Ontario.
  5. You cannot evict a tenant for no reason without compensation in Ontario. If it is no fault of their own, you are putting yourself at risk. The Residential Tenancies Act protects renters against unlawful increase and unlawful evictions. An N1 form is an official note of rent increase. If you’re even a day late you could possibly have to compensate your tenant.
  6. Be aware of the difference between a fixed term tenancy (lease) and monthly tenancy. Fixed term can be weekly, monthly or yearly, while the latter is obviously a standard month. As the landlord, you can decide which type of agreement you prefer, ensure that this is clear to the tenant before they sign.
  7. In Ontario, there is a mandatory lease agreement that both parties must abide by. There is a large number of clauses that a landlord can add to the agreement. For a list of these appendixes, feel free to contact me: jas@reccanada.com

Landlords need to be more proactive. They need to know that it is a highly regulated business. Know the rules. If you have any concerns get in touch with a professional (a paralegal) before any issues arise so you can solve it ahead of time.

Written by: Spencer Maxwell