September Newsletter

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1332773382_newsWell it’s back to school and another summer is coming to a close.

Below are some interesting real estate news articles over the last month that you may have missed, you can click on the title to read the article from the original source.



My favourites include:


Just a reminder that summer officially ends September 21st.  There’s still time!

Thanks for reading.


August 2013 Sales and Average Price Up Over 2012

September 5, 2013 — Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 7,569 residential transactions through the TorontoMLS system in August 2013. This represented a 21 per cent increase compared to 6,249 sales in August 2012.

“Sales were up strongly this past August for all major home types compared to last year. Many households have accounted for the added costs brought on by stricter mortgage lending guidelines and have reactivated their search for a home. These households have found that a diversity of affordable ownership options exist throughout the GTA,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Dianne Usher.

The average selling price for August 2013 was $503,094 – up by almost 5.5 per cent compared to the average of $477,170 in August 2012. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark was up by 3.7 per cent over the same period.

“Despite an increase in borrowing costs during the spring and summer, an average priced home in the GTA has remained affordable for a household earning an average income. With this in mind, tight market conditions are expected to promote continued price growth through the remainder of 2013,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

Click here to see Full Report [pdf]

Historic Annual Sales and Average Price [pdf]


Toronto real estate prices jump with condos helping rise in sales

It’s been a surprisingly hot summer for real estate across the GTA, with sales up 21 per cent in August over a year earlier, according to figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board Thursday.

Prices have also rebounded, in defiance of naysayers who, for more than a year now, have been anticipating a market crash. The average GTA sale price in August was $503,094, up almost 5.5 per cent from a year ago. 


Why real estate doomsayers continue to be wrong

Mandy Coz needs a lead. She isn’t the first sales rep from a nearby real estate brokerage to cold call my parents’ home in the suburbs on behalf of a family that badly wants to become our neighbours. But she’s the most recent and she’s on the hunt for a new seller. Her clients “lost out” on another property on our street.

This summer has been a bit unusual,” says the RE/MAX Premier Inc. sales representative, who’s located north of Toronto in Vaughan. When warmer weather hits and people start flocking to family barbecues, restaurant patios and cottage docks instead of open houses and showrooms, listings often languish. Not this year, though. More residential homes in Vaughan have been listed and sold in June and July compared to the same two-month period in 2012, according to data compiled by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The homes have sold for more too, with the median sale price up 6.1% year-over-year, translating into better business for local sales reps such as Coz. “Buyers are out in full swing. We’ve been busy during the last two months,” she says. “The market has been quite steady. It’s healthy.” 


A Secret Garden Hiding In Plain Sight

Beneath the Gardiner Expressway is probably the last place you would expect to find a bounty of delicious herbs. But that’s where the Gao family discovered a plant that they’d been picking for years in their native China: broom-grass.

Zhengqi and Huipin Gao recently immigrated to Canada to live with their daughter, Yali, a research scientist at a nano-biotechnology company. They hadn’t seen any broom-grass in Toronto when they arrived here earlier in the year—likely a result of the manicuring of most Toronto parks. But then Yali’s mom spotted it growing on a large tract of land under the Gardiner, right next to Fort York. The Gaos have a theory on how this useful plant ended up underneath one of the city’s main traffic arteries: “It might be they have transported the soil from somewhere else just for the construction, and it contained the seeds,” says Yali, translating for Zhengqi and Huipin. 


New fee for musicians visiting Canada could hurt small concert venues

Small concert promoters are slamming a new government fee for every foreign musician who wants to play in a Canadian bar, pub or restaurant, saying it could keep small American bands out of Canadian venues.

More than 68,000 people have signed an online petitionasking Employment, Social Development and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney to exempt musicians from a new $275 fee that came into effect on July 31.

Every international musician hired to play at a bar, pub or restaurant in Canada must apply for a work permit. That application costs $150 and hasn’t changed.

What has changed is that each “employer,” usually the venue or the promoter depending on the agreement, now must also pay an extra $275 processing fee for each musician. The fee is for a labour market opinion, which looks at whether an employer could be hiring a Canadian instead of a temporary foreign worker. 


Why Real Estate Heats Up As The Sun Sets On Summer

Nobody wants to be the one to trumpet the end of summer, but, alas the end is nigh. The upside is that September means the start of NFL season, the kids get back to school—and out of our hair—and the busy fall real-estate market gets underway.

July and August are certainly slow months: The summer of 2012 saw sales dip from 10,850 and 9,422 in May and June, respectively, to 7,570 and 6,418 in July and August, but the last two weeks of August in particular are an absolute dead zone. A handful of decent properties did hit the market this year—like a bungalow on Athlone Road that recently sold for 113 per cent of its asking price—and, in some cases, the real gems were still able to bring in five or six offers. But, for the most part, the real-estate market has been asleep for a month now.

All that is about to change. Every year, the day after Labour Day, the Toronto real-estate market explodes like clockwork. Buyers revisit the reality of house-hunting, something they put off during Toronto’s two best weather months. For sellers, it’s time to reap the rewards of readying their properties, inside and out, for sale. The fall boom is very much a chicken-egg situation: Buyers don’t get down to business until the listings are in abundance, but sellers don’t list their properties until the buyers start looking. 


Back Alley Adventures: Behind the scenes in Riverdale and Leslieville

In fiction, back alleys and lanes are dark, sinister places for drug deals and dumpsters, and that may be a reality in some cities, but not in Toronto. Our lanes are so safe that angels sleep there. Hosts to some of the most innovative homes in the city, alleys are also a rich repository of historical buildings, and caretakers of secrets and stories. On these quiet, useful byways savvy cyclists and pedestrians smell roses instead of exhaust fumes. Join me this week as I explore Leslieville and Riverdale’s lanes and alleys to expose a hidden home and swingers in a secluded park.

Where Toronto’s main and residential streets have an image to maintain, alleys are free to be wild, whimsical, outrageous and artistic. Sleeping cherubs, along with other wall art, frame the entrance to a lane home off Jones Avenue, above. 


40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that.

Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head. 


Bidding wars, soaring house prices hit Hamilton real estate

Cathy Thomson always imagined that when she and her husband retired, they would sell their house in Oshawa and move to the big city.

They did. The City of Hamilton.

The former librarians were shocked to discover that for about half the price, $295,000, they could get everything they’d hoped to find in Toronto — a cool condo close to a burgeoning arts scene, thriving cafes, up-and-coming restaurants, and bike paths that meander along a waterfront undergoing a rebirth.

With any luck, all-day GO train service, originally slated for the 2015 PanAm Games, will arrive someday within a 10-minute walk of their new home, a soaring and sunny 1,200-square-foot condo in a beautifully converted, century-old school. 


The Best Places to Live in the City: A (Mostly) Scientific Ranking of All 140 Neighbourhoods in Toronto

In Toronto, we develop stubborn loyalties to where we live. We grow familiar with a couple of blocks and identify as west- or east-enders, or as the sort of person who can only live above or below Bloor. We brag that our neighbourhood has the friendliest people, the biggest backyards, the most coveted French immersion school, the greengrocer with the juiciest peaches. But what if we’re wrong? In a city with so many great pockets, and many more improving faster than you can say gentrification, the competition for the title of Number One is cutthroat.

To end the uncertainty, Toronto Life presents the ultimate ranking of the city’s neighbourhoods. We examined 10 factors for each, assigning them a score out of 100: housing (which considers year-over-year appreciation and the ratio of average price to household income), crime, transit, shopping, health and environment, entertainment, community engagement (which factors in voter turnout and beautification projects), diversity, schools and employment.

A team of researchers at U of T’s Martin Prosperity Institute think tank—who have an abiding interest in the growth of cities—helped crunch the data, pulling from a wealth of sources, including Statistics Canada, the city’s exhaustive statistical research, the Toronto Police Service, the Centre for Research on Inner City Health and the Fraser Institute. The goal was to be thoroughly objective, but we also took into account that some factors will always be subjective when measuring the quality of a neighbourhood. To some of us, a truly great neighbourhood has a dozen nightclubs, while to others it has the cheapest houses. We conducted an online poll of Toronto Life readers, who told us what they prioritize when choosing where to live, and adjusted the rankings accordingly: housing is weighted highest, at 15 per cent, crime at 13 per cent, transit and shopping at 11 each, health and entertainment at 10 each, community and diversity at eight each, and schools and employment at seven each.

The results are bound to be controversial. The top 10 are a surprisingly varied group, ranging across the city, from some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods to some of the most modest. What all 10 share is the right combination of covetable qualities. Here are the best places to live in Toronto today. 


Parking ticket hot spots: Website shows when and where you’re most likely to get nailed

One man’s quest to turn five years of data sets on parking tickets into a searchable database could prove useful for drivers hoping to avoid hefty fines. was announced Sunday via Reddit, and it’s already racked up more than 4,000 hits in 24 hours, according to its creator.

One quick search and you can find out what hours, days of the week and months most parking tickets have been written for any given street in the city. Almost 50,000 tickets, the most in the city, were given at Sunnybrook hospital, according to the data.

You can even check specific addresses and find out whether your chances of a ticket are more likely at 230 Front St. or 171 Front St. 


Blackout 2003: How Ontario went dark

Ten years after the fact, Kim Warren can still tell you to the minute when the lights went out in Ontario.

It was 4:11 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2003, and Warren was the manager of the main control centre for Ontario’s power grid.

He was in the hallway just outside the control room, talking to some co-workers, when the lights flickered.

“It just seemed odd,” he said in an interview. He ducked back into the control room to a scene he won’t forget.

Photo gallery: A look back at the 2003 blackout 


Photos: Innovative homes made from shipping containers are viable – not to mention very cool

It’s rare for social housing to lead the way in innovation for the development industry or for design-savvy homebuyers, but a new project in Vancouver just might be the tipping point that makes container homes a hot commodity.

In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside , a housing project at 502 Alexander St. has used 12 recycled shipping containers to form the base structure for a three-level, 12-unit development for women. It’s got the look you’d find in a Dwell or Azure spread featuring an eco-project in Denmark or Holland, with its corrugated steel walls, painted navy blue and burnt orange. 


Could GTA flooding be used as home sale escape hatch?

The recent flooding in the GTA raised important legal questions about homes that were supposed to close at the time.

I was recently asked whether a buyer could refuse to close a deal when they suspected the home had been damaged by flooding before closing. The seller refused to let them in, since the agreement did not provide any more home visits or inspections.

Here are the questions:

1. Does a buyer have an automatic right to inspect a home before they close their purchase to find out if there have been damages since the date they signed the offer?

2. Does a buyer have the right to cancel the deal if there has been a flood in the home prior to closing? 


TD Meloche raises rates in wake of water damage claims

The flash flooding caused by the huge Toronto thunderstorm a few weeks ago has people taking a closer look at their insurance coverage for sewer backup.

If your policy is up for renewal, you’ll discover if you’re a TD Meloche Monnex customer that your basic coverage has been reduced and you’re paying more.

The bank said Tuesday it is expecting to report a third-quarter loss of nearly $300 million for its insurance business, in part due to claims related to damage caused by severe weather in Ontario and Alberta. While Michael Goldberg of Desjardins Securities said the Royal Bank of Canada may also record similar charges, an agent for Royal Insurance said it has not affected premiums for now.

We recently received our home insurance renewal from TD Meloche Monnex. The renewal said that as of August, basic coverage for the sewer backup coverage will fall from $50,000 to $15,000 while the premium is rising from $129 to $138. You can buy more as needed. 


CONCRETE TORONTO: The Don Valley Parkway and suburban growth

Within the large-scale planning exercises following World War II, expressways were viewed as the key means of interconnecting the Toronto region and controlling its outward growth. Metro Toronto planners developed schemes for an extensive highway network, servicing every corner of the growing metropolis. The Don Valley Parkway was the first north-south portion to be realized.

The expressway went through several iterations before finding its final resting place along the length of the Don Valley. Originally intended to parallel the Don only downtown, north of the city it was to exist as a widened Don Mills Road. Fierce protests from developer E. P. Taylor, protective of his highly successful development of Don Mills, pushed the highway project east toward the ravine. The approval of the massive Flemingdon Park housing development on an undeveloped plateau south of Eglinton Avenue pushed the expressway off course once again, placing it in its current position. As such, it is a project shaped as much by development as by topography. 


Persnickety Property Bylaws Are Making Bad Neighbours Out of Good Fences

Here are a few pretty good signs that a law is bad: when simply enforcing it as it is written is deemed an injustice; when a citizen requesting the law be enforced is deemed “vexatious”; and when the process of defending yourself against prosecution for breaking the law is considered “unreasonable.” City council has such a law—or set of laws—on its hands right now, and we can only hope they take the opportunity to get rid of them.

I’m talking about the Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) department’s bylaws regarding property standards as they apply to regular homeowners (not landlords or business properties open to the public, which are a bit of a different matter). Some of these property standards regulate public safety, which seems entirely reasonable. But there are also a whole bunch of others that essentially enforce aesthetics: If you have a sign on your property, it must be legible and the paint shall not be peeling; if you have a backyard fence, it shall be no higher than six-foot-six (and must not be made of certain materials). Your house painting must conform, too: If there’s graffiti on your property, you must pay to have it removed, even if you put it there yourself. Your grass must be trimmed and your hedge pruned, and you mustn’t allow weeds to grow. 


The TTC once knew how to move people but now we spend more time arguing than building subways

On New Year’s Day, 1946, citizens of Toronto voted on three ballot questions. One asked: “Are you in favour of the TTC proceeding with the construction of a proposed Rapid Transit System, provided the Dominion Government assumes one-fifth of the costs?” Enthusiastically, Toronto said yes: 79,935 citizens supported and just 8,630 opposed the proposal.

Ottawa never did give a nickel for Toronto’s first subway, which cost $50.5-million. The first $10-million came from surpluses the TTC piled up during the Second World War; the City of Toronto financed the rest by floating debentures in New York, paying them back with 6% interest from money the TTC collected in the fare box. No fuss, no problem.

In February, 1954, William C. McBrien, the powerful chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, opened Canada’s first subway: 12 stops from Union Station to Eglinton Avenue. A ride cost 10¢. 


SPACING FILMS: Chester Hill Lookout [VIDEO]

Chester Hill Lookout is one of Toronto’s best hidden gems. Located just north of Danforth and west of Broadview, the lookout presents a majestic view of the downtown skyline and the expanse of the Don Valley.

In this edition of Spacing Films, Nicola Nemy documents the delicate beauty of the Chester Hill Lookout. 


Tax auditors target condo sellers in hunt for ‘flippers’

A Toronto tax lawyer is warning realtors — and people who’ve bought and sold new condos over the past seven years — that they could become unwitting victims of what he calls “abusive audit practices” by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Tax auditors have been targeting the once red-hot Toronto and Vancouver real estate markets, looking primarily for people who bought condos before they were built, intending to flip them for a profit as soon as the project is complete.

But other folks, including some who were forced to sell because their circumstances changed in the years it took for their new condo or home to be built, have been hit with the kind of massive tax bills usually reserved for real estate speculators. 


Don’t let the 401 fool you; from Pickering to Oshawa, living in Durham has plenty of perks — and there’s more on the horizon

Everyone wants to love their neighbourhood. It’s about more than the streets you use to get home after work, more than how far you are from transit or the dentist. It’s about connecting with the place and the people. This multi-part series explores some of the many vibrant neighbourhoods in and around the GTA and what makes them thrive.

If you happen to be driving on Highway 401, through Pickering, keep your eyes peeled for something unusual. Actually, it’s nearly impossible to miss the newly constructed enclosed pedestrian-and-cyclist bridge that spans 250 metres over 12 lanes of traffic and multiple railway tracks.

Like the less elaborate footbridge over Highway 11, in cottage country north of Toronto, which connects southbound travellers to the hallowed roadside burger joint, Webers, the raised pathway at Liverpool Road links folks to a sought-after service: GO transit. 


Selling: To Stage or Not to Stage…

Staging is a dirty word to designers. Whenever I hear the term, I think of stripping out every last shred of personality and warmth in a home — not a house, a home — and replacing it with a pleather-infected, sterile box. I imagine walls being painted in coffee colours, and red being used as an accent to really set off the beige-and-brown room with the chrome accent tables. Every time one of these rooms is born, somewhere, a designer weeps. 


10 Modern Kitchen Chair Ideas [Photos]

Revamp your kitchen (without breaking the bank) with one of these new, modern kitchen chairs. 


Mould, mould everywhere

The weather is a constant source of conversation in Canada and a bone of contention.  Every spring we see flooding occur across the country.  The Prairies encounter flooding frequently during the spring and every fall, Eastern Canada gets hammered with tropical storms and hurricanes.  After all of these events we have to deal with the after-effects: mould.

Mould is everywhere.  The small spores are floating in the air you’re breathing even as you read this.  It’s a ubiquitous part of nature.  These microscopic spores float through the air, landing on surfaces.  If the conditions are not favourable for growth, nothing happens.  But when they land on a surface with the right conditions – dampness and a suitable food source, such as wood or other organic material – a problem will soon occur. 


Decorate Your Bathroom on a Budget [Photos]

10 of the most fantastic bathroom accessories in stores now, all for under $40. 


Get the dirt on Toronto condos using new review site

t could be one of the best, or worst, things to hit the Toronto condo market since websites like Yelp turned the tables on restaurant criticism.

A new crowdsourcing site,, officially launches Monday, with a mobile app for iPhone. It joins a number of other sites, like, that are trying to take word of mouth about condos in the city to an online level, which may be good news for consumers, but not so much for some developers.

So far, the fledgling site has comments on about 400 of the more than 1,300 registered buildings in Toronto — from buyers, renters and the equivalent of condo plane-spotters who just get a kick out of taking a look around and uttering an opinion. 


Why is that house blurred out on Google Street View? [Photos]

Some things, Google Street View hides automatically, and in great numbers: people’s faces, for one, and the licence plates of whatever they drive, for another. (The company, whosemission is to “organize the world’s information,” doesn’t always get it quite right.) But on Brock Avenue, as the street cuts through Little Portugal, there’s something blurred out that usually isn’t: a whole house. That’s it, above.

Here’s another, on Glen Gordon Road, near Keele Street and Bloor Street West: